Russia's President Vladimir Putin issued a presidential decree Thursday that grants Russian citizenship to action-movie star Steven Seagal, fulfilling a desire that Seagal spoke about as recently as September. Putin and Seagal are longtime friends.
Putin and Seagal share a passion for martial arts: Seagal is an expert in aikido, and Putin is an expert in judo. They've appeared together at martial arts demonstrations and official events, including last year's Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
In recent years, Seagal has emerged as an unlikely conduit between U.S. and Russian officials. Back in 2013, members of a U.S. congressional delegation said Seagal "opened some doors" for them as they researched anti-terrorism issues and it later emerged that in the same year, Putin suggested making Seagal an honorary consul in California and Arizona, a position that could have allowed him to work as a go-between for Putin and President Obama.