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Russia has granted citizenship to Steven Seagal via a decree from President Vladimir Putin, published on the Kremlin’s official website on Thursday.
“He has made requests about citizenship for a long time and quite persistently,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by news agency RIA Novosti.
Under the Russian constitution, the president has authority over “issues of citizenship of the Russian Federation and the granting of asylum.”
That means that Seagal automatically became a Russian citizen as soon as the decree was published, and he doesn’t have to officially accept it. There was no immediate known reaction from Seagal.
During his most recent Russia visit two months ago, he went to the Northeast regions of Kamchatka and Sakhalin and said that he “didn’t rule out” obtaining Russian citizenship, adding that he would like to spend several months a year in Russia.
In January 2013, French actor Gerard Depardieu was also granted citizenship by Putin’s decree. Since then, several Western show business figures, including French actor Samy Naceri and Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst, have reportedly spoken about their desire to obtain Russian citizenship.
A year ago, Crimea, the region annexed by Russia from Ukraine, called on Western celebrities to obtain residence in the territory, promising to create “the new Beverly Hills,” but no one is known to have responded to that call.
Over the last few years, Seagal has maintained close ties with Russia. Three years ago, he was reportedly going to become the international face of Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov, but the project was canceled as Western sanctions were slapped on Russia over Crimea in 2014. Seagal is also known to be friendly with Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Two year’s ago, a Seagal music gig was canceled in Estonia over the actor’s support for the Kremlin’s policies in Ukraine.
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