Executive Decision: Putin Grants His Friend Steven Seagal Russian Citizenship

In the culmination of an almost decade and a half-long bromance, the Russian leader has finally made his favorite actor a citizen of his country.

by Sarah Kurchak
Nov 4 2016, 6:53pm

Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/KRE

It's been a while since we've seen the UFC's favorite weird uncle, "Sensei" Steven Seagal, checking in on his favorite MMA pupils. In The Glimmer Man's defense, though, it's not like he's been slacking off when he's not teaching the likes of Anderson Silva and Daniel Cormier kicks and the secrets of the universe.

Seagal has completed and/or released eight films this year (including Sniper: Special Ops, The Asian Connection, and End of a Gun) and announced two more (including Above The Law 2!). He's set up and eventually verified a Twitter account where he retweets political opinions that he agrees with, hints that Under Siege 3 might be in the works, and promotes his new signature knife and weapon line. He has a signature knife and weapon line. And, somewhere along the lines, he seems to have at least somewhat rekindled his epic bromance with Russian leader and instructional judo video star Vladimir Putin.

When we last checked in on this martial arts and martial law-loving duo in June 2015—which sparked over the admiration of a statue of Judo founder Kanō Jigorō in the blossoming days of the millennium—had gone lukewarm. Although Seagal appeared at a V Day parade and an Aikido seminar in Russia in May of that year, his public outings with his once constant chum Vladimir had all but dried up at that point. And Putin's movie star-courting favor seemed to have turned to super serious boxer and t-shirt model Mickey Rourke.

But Rourke's flirtation with a pugilism career was fleeting and self-centered. Seagal's dedication to his grandmother's homeland (she was originally from Vladivostok) remained as hard to kill as Mason Storm.

This past summer, the star and Aikido master, who was already tight with Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov thanks to a 2013 playdate, went on an extensive tour to befriend even more post-Soviet leaders in an effort "to bring all people together, to live in harmony," as The Guardian reported. In August, he met with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. The man known as "Europe's last dictator," even fed Seagal a carrot during the encounter.

Yes, that is exactly what happened. No, it doesn't look any less absurd in context and on video.

Do you ever get the impression that Seagal is slowly metamorphosing into the kind of villain that he used to fight in his early movies?

Then he moved on to Kyrgyzstan to open the World Nomad Games in September. "He also met with Kyrgyzstan's president, Almazbek Atambayev, who has been accused by critics of possessing an increasingly authoritarian streak," The Guardian's Shaun Walker wrote. "'You guys are lucky because you have in my my opinion a great president,' Seagal told local journalists in Bishkek on Monday, ahead of playing guitar at a charity dinner at which tickets sold for $1,000 per head. 'He treated me not as a distinguished guest but more like a friend. We discussed a lot of very important matters. Personal matters, philosophical matters, spiritual matters.'"

And now Seagal has finally been fully embraced by his beloved Mother Russia. As the Kremlin announced earlier this week, the star has been given Russian citizenship. "President Putin signed a decree to make the award to the martial arts expert, who starred in Hollywood action thriller during the 1990s," the BBC reported on November 3. "Seagal is friends with Mr. Putin, who he has described as 'one of the greatest world leaders.' Mr. Putin's spokesman said Seagal was known for his warm feelings toward Russia and his status as a famous actor was a reason to make him a citizen."

Seagal joins French film star Gerard Depardieu, MMA fighter Jeff Monson, and boxer Roy Jones on the increasingly long list of famous people who have been granted Russian citizenship recently.

Russia joins Serbia, who granted the star citizenship status after he offered to open a martial arts school there, on the increasingly long list of countries who are willing to make Steven Seagal a citizen for the act of being Steven Seagal and paying attention to them.

And, if Donald Trump happens to win the election next week, maybe he'll finally get that special honorary consul of Russia status that he and Putin wanted so badly in 2013, too.

At which point we would all be Under Siege in Dark Territory, indeed.

VICE Sports
Steven Seagal
vladamir putin