Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved Russian citizenship for American actor Steven Seagal.
Putin signed a presidential order granting citizenship to Seagal, a presidential spokesman told reporters on Thursday.
The 64-year-old Seagal had repeatedly requested Russian citizenship, the spokesman added. “He is well known for his warm feelings towards our country and has never hidden them.”
The Russian official, Dmitry Peskov, said the fact that Seagal is a famous actor also was a major reason the president decided to award him citizenship.
The actor has become friendly with Putin during several visits to Russia in recent years. The two men have been photographed together while attending events in Russia.
Seagal’s acting career was based on movies showcasing his martial arts skills. Putin has also trained in the martial arts. The two men appeared together three years ago at a school near Moscow to launch a campaign to publicize physical fitness.
The actor has praised Putin in earlier comments to reporters. Seagal has said he supported Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. At the time, he called Putin “one of the great living world leaders.”
Many nations have condemned Russia’s takeover of Crimea.
Putin has approved Russian citizenship to other famous people. In 2013, he awarded citizenship to the French actor Gerard Depardieu. In 2015, he approved citizenship for American boxer Roy Jones Jr., who held several of his fights in Russia.
In January, Serbia also reportedly granted citizenship to Seagal, after he offered to set up a martial arts school in the country.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His report was based on information from Reuters and Agence France-Presse. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
grant – v. to give or allow someone to have something
martial arts – n. traditional Japanese or Chinese methods of fighting, practiced as sport in many countries
annexation – n. the taking over of another country’s territory
boxer – n. person who engages in the sport of boxing, which involved people fighting with their fists