- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Kremlin on Thursday announced President Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to Steven Seagal, the American-born martial artist who has starred in dozens of action movies following his breakthrough role in 1992’s “Under Siege.”

“In compliance with Item A of Article 89 of the Russian Federation Constitution, the President issued the order to accord Russian Federation citizenship to Steven Frederic Seagal, born April 10, 1952, in the United States of America,” reads an official decree posted on the Kremlin website.

Mr. Seagal, 64, “was asking for citizenship persistently and for quite a long time,” said Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, The Guardian reported Thursday. “He is known for his warm feelings to our country, which he has never hidden.”

The movie star has made frequent trips to Russia over the years and has praised Mr. Putin in the past in spite of icy relations between Washington and Moscow.

Mr. Seagal was “tremendously grateful for this opportunity,” his agent said in a statement provided Thursday to TASS, a Russian newswire.

“I always felt that USA and Russia should be best friends and allies. Despite the unfortunate propaganda going on I remain fully committed to work tirelessly towards this end and I am tremendously grateful for this opportunity,” Mr. Seagal said in the statement. “I have a tremendous amount of friends and family in Russia and former Soviet regions. I have huge respect and affection for Russia. As well as my own country.”

In a 2013 interview, the actor called Mr. Putin “one of the greatest world leaders if not the greatest world leader alive today.” More recently, he told reporters in September that he believed applying for Russian citizenship was “somewhere on the horizon.”

“I would love to spend a few months a year with my friends in Russia, with people who love me and await me here,” he said during an appearance at the “Edge of the World” Film Festival in Sakhalin.

Mr. Seagal may be eligible for an annual pension worth roughly $80 when he turns 65 if he maintains a residence in Russia, a government representative told TASS.

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