Putin gives Russian citizenship to action film actor Steven Seagal

In this Sept. 4, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. actor Steven Seagal shake hands after visiting an oceanarium built on Russky Island, in the Russian Far Eastern port of Vladivostok. Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, that Russia has awarded Russian citizenship to Seagal. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Government Press Service Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this Sept. 4, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. actor Steven Seagal shake hands after visiting an oceanarium built on Russky Island, in the Russian Far Eastern port of Vladivostok. Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, that Russia has awarded Russian citizenship to Seagal. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Government Press Service Pool Photo via AP, File)

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has awarded Russian citizenship to action film actor Steven Seagal.

The 64-year-old Seagal has been a regular visitor to Russia in recent years and has accompanied Putin to several martial arts events, as well as vocally defending the Russian leader’s policies.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday that Seagal “has been insistent for a long time in asking to be granted Russian citizenship,” adding that “he is known for his warm feelings to our country, he never made a secret of it, and he’s also a well-known actor, which gave grounds to make him a Russian citizen.”

Other foreign celebrities to be awarded Russian nationality by the Kremlin in recent years are French actor Gerard Depardieu and U.S. boxer Roy Jones Jr.