Continuing its open courting of Mexican immigrant-hating, jingoistic simpletons who flirted with movie appearances in the early ’90s before settling into an august bloat of reality TV stardom, treating women like sex toys, slapping their name on cheap shit, and thoroughly misguided political ambition, Russia has granted Steven Seagal citizenship, the Kremlin announced. It’s the culmination of a long mutual flirtation between the two warily regarded sovereignties, with Seagal having been a friend and open admirer of Vladimir Putin’s ever since the two bonded over their love of martial arts and being photographed looking fucking ridiculous.
According to Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Seagal is “a well-known actor, which gave grounds to make him a Russian citizen.” But beyond the same justification given for the six or seven straight-to-video action movies Seagal makes every year, Russia had other reasons. The Michigan-born actor, Peskov says, “has been insistent for a long time” in his asking to become an official Russian, and “is known for his warm feelings to our country, he never made a secret of it.”
And it’s true: Seagal’s relationship with Russia goes beyond mere palling around with Putin at MMA fights. Seagal has called Putin “one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader, alive today,” vocally defended Putin’s forcible annexation of Crimea as “very reasonable,” and served as Putin’s celebrity spokesman/cautionary tale in his push to make Russians exercise. Their friendship has also long given credence to our suspicion that Seagal’s IMDB bio was written by Russian hackers.
As a testament to the glasnost with which the country greets him, in 2014, Seagal performed with his blues-rock band at a Ukraine concert for pro-Russian separatists. According to reports, this was intended to encourage them.
Seagal’s loyalty to Putin is so unflappable, Putin once even proposed that Seagal become Russia’s “honorary consul” in the U.S. during a 2013 summit with Obama—a suggestion that was met, according to Buzzfeed, with a “You’ve got to be kidding.” Nevertheless, Seagal did serve as a diplomatic envoy between Russian leaders and American lawmakers during the latter’s investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing. And as the goateed face of Russia’s weapons industry, he’s been called upon to lobby easily impressed U.S. legislators to end restrictions on the sale of Russian weapons. In short, Steven Seagal has long put himself squarely in the middle of American-Russian relations, a role that Seagal said in a statement he hopes to continue to play “despite the unfortunate propaganda going on,” in this bizarre, late-’80s fever dream that is our current political existence.
As of now, Seagal has not been granted any further official role in Russia’s government, though Russia Beyond The Headlines notes that he is eligible to receive a standard Russian pension of 5,000 rubles—or roughly $80. Unfortunately, to collect it he’ll need to spend more time in Russia than America, so Seagal will be forced to make a tough decision between that $80 and his movie career.