American actor Steven Seagal received his Russian passport, personally presented to him by President Putin at the Kremlin today—in a televised event.
Sitting at a round table at the Kremlin, Putin said that this should be seen as absolutely “depoliticized” decision. Yet he humbly noted in his statement that this is a gesture on his part towards the “normalization” of strained relationship with the U.S.
It is unlikely that Americans will see giving Seagal a passport as a conciliatory gesture. Donald Trump has said that sending back the spy Edward Snowden would show him and America respect.
All I can say is that if I were President, Snowden would have already been returned to the U.S. (by their fastest jet) and with an apology!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2013
“I would like to congratulate you on this occasion and express the hope that this is yet another gesture, probably a small one, but still a gesture, and may indicate a gradual normalization of our interstate relations,” he said.
Putin then showed American star where to sign explaining that “the passport is not valid without your signature” and stated that this document will make it easier for Seagal to carry out his “professional plans.”
“You have many friends in this country and you have professional plans as well. Naturally, Russian citizenship and a Russian passport will make it easier for you to meet your friends and carry out your plans.”
Indeed Seagal who arrived in Moscow last week has since already offered to invest in Russian IT company Galaktika and even starred in an add for Russian communications firm Megafon.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the actor “was renowned for his quite warm feelings” towards Russia.
Hollywood action blockbuster star and martial arts fan Putin have also reportedly previously hung out together and have struck up a bromance, with Seagal calling Putin “one of the great living world leaders.”
The actor also previously supported Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and even performed with his blues band in the invaded Black Sea peninsula.