Putin grants citizenship to Steven Seagal
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order to give citizenship to American action star Steven Seagal.
The 64-year old has been a vocal supporter of President Putin and a regular visitor to the country - where he has attended several martial arts events with the Russian leader.
"He has been insistent for a long time in asking to be granted Russian citizenship," said Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Perkov.
"He is known for his warm feelings to our country, he never made a secret of it."
Seagal is known for his love of martial arts, his Buddhist faith and his Under Siege films - where he played a former special forces member turned cook.
Russia's deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, tweeted on Wednesday: "I congratulate my friend Steve on the fact that now he has become our compatriot!"
In the 1990s, the actor - who has Russian heritage - opened a branch of the restaurant chain Planet Hollywood in Moscow, and has since participated in a number of publicity campaigns for Russian companies.
"The first time I walked into his home I saw a life-sized statue of Kano Jigoro, who is the founder of judo," the actor told of his first contact with President Putin.
"So I was immediately taken and impressed and sort of wanting to get to know this man deeper and deeper."
Steven Seagal is not the first celebrity to be awarded citizenship by the Kremlin.
French actor Gerard Depardieu got his in 2013 and was offered an apartment in a small town.
Depardieu said at the time he was leaving France to avoid proposed tax increases.
US boxer Roy Jones Jr got his Russian passport last year, shortly after writing in his website "this is the happiest day of my life".
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