Vladimir Putin Signs Order Making Steven Seagal a Russian Citizen

The action actor and Vladimir Putin have been martial arts pals for a few years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an executive order giving actor Steven Seagal Russian citizenship, the Kremlin announced Thursday.

The action film actor has visited Russia regularly over the last few years, and has been open about his approval for Putin. Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Seagal “has been insistent for a long time” in asking to become a Russian citizen, AP reports. “He is known for his warm feelings to our country, he never made a secret of it, and he’s also a well-known actor, which gave grounds to make him a Russian citizen.” Peskov said

Seagal and Russia have bonded over martial arts—Seagal’s specialty—and through Putin’s push for national athleticism before the Sochi Olympics.

In 2013, Seagal recounted first meeting Putin on Russian television, according to the AP. “The first time I walked into his home I saw a life-sized statue of Kano Jigoro, who is the founder of judo, so I was immediately taken and impressed and sort of wanting to get to know this man deeper and deeper.”

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