Martial artist and former Hollywood actor Steven Seagal has reportedly helped launch an all-Russian Aikido center in Moscow designed to help prepare young Russians for military service.
The 70-year-old Michigan-born actor presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony as the head instructor of the Russian Akido Federation (FAR), wrestling news outlet Bloody Elbow reported Tuesday, citing Russian state-affiliated media outlet TASS.
The new center intends to “increase the applied nature of aikido, develop various styles and directions of traditional and modern aikido, increase the general motivation of those involved — the opportunity to become a champion, receive a sports category, title, as well as prepare young people for service in the Russian Armed Forces,” according to Bloody Elbow.
Seagal’s relationship with Russia and Russian President Vladmir Putin is well-established, with Seagal once calling Putin “one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader, alive today” in a 2013 interview with Russia Today. Putin granted Seagal Russian citizenship in 2016, and two years later appointed Seagal “special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry … in charge of the [Russia-U.S.] humanitarian ties.”
Steven Seagal @sseagalofficial, who is a Russian citizen, has been appointed as a special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry @mfa_russia in charge of the 🇷🇺#RussiaUS🇺🇸 humanitarian ties
➡️ https://t.co/JxYrEdqoig pic.twitter.com/9Mo6CDxLF7
— Russian Embassy in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) August 4, 2018
“I am very glad to be able to present this center today and that aikido will develop here,” Seagal remarked during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to Bloody Elbow. “These arts can make this world a better place.”