Steven Seagal receives Russian passport direct from Putin's hands

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U.S. action star Steven Seagal today received a Russian passport, handed to him by President Vladimir Putin. (AP)

U.S. action star Steven Seagal received a Russian passport, handed to him by President Vladimir Putin.

"The passport won't be valid without your signature," Putin told Seagal, according to remarks carried by state news agency Tass. "Thank you very much," the actor reportedly replied before signing it at an unusual ceremony at the Kremlin.

The aging movie star was granted Russian citizenship in early November.

The 64-year old actor has been a regular visitor to Russia in recent years. He has also vocally defended the Russian leader's policies and criticized the U.S. government.

The Kremlin has taken a similar liking to Seagal, it appears. Putin has hosted the actor and martial arts specialist at his residence outside Moscow, with Putin's spokesman saying the two are longtime friends.

Putin hosted the actor at the Kremlin on Friday and handed him the passport.

Putin told Seagal he hopes the ceremony, which was shown on Russian state television, is "also a sign of a gradual normalization of the relations between the countries."

Seagal is the latest in a menagerie of aging male film and sports stars to be recently granted Russian citizenship, seemingly on the basis of their public expressions of friendship with Putin. The French actor Gerard Depardieu, U.S. boxer Roy Jones Jr. and the American mixed-martial arts fighter Jeff "the Snowman" Monson were recently given citizenship. Monson received his after opening a fighting school in war-torn eastern Ukraine.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Related Topics:
entertainmentu.s. & worldvladimir putinentertainmentrussiaactorpassportcitizenship
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