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Putin Gives Actor Steven Seagal Russian Citizenship



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.

In this photo taken on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. actor Steven Seagal watch the first Russian national championship of mixed martial arts in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia.
In this photo taken on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. actor Steven Seagal watch the first Russian national championship of mixed martial arts in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, southern Russia.

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.

Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly practices judo as a way to stay fit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin regularly practices judo as a way to stay fit.

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

grantv. ​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

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