Yes, That’s Steven Seagal and Vladimir Putin: BFFs Promote Fitness In Moscow

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Here's a new celebrity bromance for the tabloids to follow: action film star Steven Seagal and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Seagal is one busy guy -- he's marketing an energy drink, promoting Buddhism as a reincarnated lama, heading up an armed volunteer posse to guard schools in Arizona, protecting the safety of the good people of Louisiana as a peace officer on his reality show "Steven Seagal: Lawman," rocking the nation with his blues band, and even making a movie every once in a while. But Seagal is never too busy to lend a hand to his best buddy, Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Seagal and Putin were spotted spending some quality time together on Wednesday. Putin has been facing the matter of Russia's declining population by encouraging a healthier lifestyle among his citizens. And as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of fitness and exercise, Putin showed up for a photo op at a newly opened martial arts academy near Moscow with the star of "Marked For Death" (1990) "Under Siege" (1992), and "Out For Justice" (1991) at his side.

Putin has called for a renewal of the GTO, a physical training program introduced by Joseph Stalin in the 1950s (in Russian, GTO stands for "Ready for Labor and Defense"). As Putin watched Russian athletes go through martial arts exercises, Seagal sat by his side, looking on approvingly. Seagal also briefly got into the act, showing off a few simple moves with a student while his remarks were translated for those in attendance. (Seagal later told a reporter that he was of Russian heritage and could speak the language, but when asked to share a few thoughts in Russian, he modestly replied, "Nyet.") The star's jet-black hair and naturally orange complexion served as an example of the healthy benefits of a regular program of martial arts training.

Seagal's films are still quite popular in Russia, and in addition to stoking his fan base there, Seagal stops by to hang with his friend Vladimir, who has been photographed with Steven on several occasions. While it’s not known if they train together, Putin does have background in martial arts himself – he holds a black belt in Judo, and is said to be proficient in Sambo, a fighting style used in Russian military training.

While Seagal was on hand to help support Putin's health initiatives, he also lent a hand to the president when Putin found himself surrounded by a pack of small children hoping to meet the leader. The noted lawman stepped in and led Putin to safety. One can only hope Dennis Rodman is as concerned about the safety of his new best friend, Kim Jong Un.