- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Steven Seagal suggested Wednesday one of his next roles may involve playing a Russian citizen, but not necessarily for any movie. The Michigan-born martial artist best known for his action films told reporters in Russia’s far east that he’s considering applying for citizenship.

The 64-year-old “Under Siege” star weighed in on the possibility of becoming a citizen during an appearance at the “Edge of the World” Film Festival in Sakhalin, Russian media reported Wednesday.

“I think a Russian citizenship is somewhere on the horizon,” the actor told reporters. “I would love to spend a few months a year with my friends in Russia, with people who love me and await me here.”

Mr. Seagal added that he’s particularly fond of Sakhalin on account of its proximity to Japan and “rich business potential,” Kremlin-owned media reported. The actor previously lived in Japan and married his first wife there in 1975.

While allegations concerning Moscow’s alleged use of cyberattacks to interference in the U.S. presidential election have spurred concerns of a new Cold War as of late, Mr. Seagal has publicly praised Russia in the past and has been pursuing the possibility of citizenship since at least 2014.

“I’m not in any way intend to give up U.S. citizenship, because I love my country and believe in it,” he told Rossiyskaya Gazeta at the time. “Maybe someday, [Russian citizenship] will happen.”

Mr. Seagal hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin as “one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader” during a 2013 interview with state-owned media.

“He cares more about Russia than anybody I know, and he’s not afraid to stand up and do what needs to get done,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr. Putin told BuzzFeed News that the president and Mr. Seagal have “a totally normal friendship.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s a huge fan, but he’s definitely seen some of his movies,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Seagal was granted Serbian citizenship earlier this year after several visits to the country and meeting with President Tomislav Nikolic and his top officials. He was in Moscow this week prior to traveling east to Sakhalin, according to his official Twitter account.

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