MOSCOW—Actor Steven Seagal has been granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin.
The 64-year-old film star was issued a presidential decree on Thursday, November 3 following a longtime friendship with Putin, according to a National Public Radio report.
Seagal has regularly visited Russia and has attended several martial arts events with Putin in recent years. He has a black belt in aikido, while Putin has a black belt in judo, the NPR reported. According to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Seagal has expressed a desire to be granted Russian citizenship for a long time.
“He is known for his warm feelings to our country, he has never made a secret of it, and he’s also a well-known actor, which gave grounds to make him a Russian citizen,” Peskov stated.
The actor previously expressed his acclaim for Russia and Putin.
In a 2013 interview with “Russia Today,” Seagal stated: “I know him well enough to know that he is one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader, alive today. He cares more about Russia than anybody I know and he’s not afraid to stand up and do what needs to get done.”
Seagal joins U.S. boxer Roy Jones Jr. as being several celebrities to be granted Russian citizenship by Putin.