Vladimir Putin grants Russian citizenship to U.S. actor Steven Seagal

Russian President Vladimir Putin has awarded Russian citizenship to action film actor Steven Seagal, the Kremlin said on Thursday. The 64-year-old Seagal has been a regular visitor to Russia in recent years and has accompanied Putin to several martial arts events, as well as vocally defending the Russian leader’s policies and criticizing the U.S. government. Seagal is the latest in a string of foreign celebrities to be awarded Russian nationality by the Kremlin in recent years. Others include French actor Gerard Depardieu and U.S. boxer Roy Jones Jr.

At the same time, he is a rather well-known actor, which became the reason for granting him Russian Federation citizenship.

Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman

Seagal did not immediately comment, though he has previously offered fulsome praise of Putin in numerous appearances on Russian state media. Seagal called Putin “one of the greatest world leaders if not the greatest world leader alive today” in a 2013 interview with the Russian state-owned TV channel RT. “He cares more about Russia than anybody I know and he’s not afraid to stand up and do what needs to get done.”