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Governor Seagal? Putin's Favorite Action-Film Actor Says He Would Like To Head Russian Region

Steven Seagal on horseback at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan in 2016
Steven Seagal on horseback at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan in 2016

Action-movie actor Steven Seagal has an answer to the Kremlin's political problems in the Primorye region: himself.

Seagal, who has personal ties with President Vladimir Putin and was given Russian citizenship in 2016, told an audience in Vladivostok that he "would like" to be Primorye's governor, the Interfax news agency reported on September 26.

His remarks came amid controversy over the gubernatorial election in Primorye, where the results of a September 16 runoff were thrown out after the Communist Party cried foul when the Kremlin favorite overtook its candidate in the final stages of the vote count.

The head of the Central Election Commission said the runoff was marred by "serious violations," including machinations with the ballot count, and a new vote is to be held in December.

The runoff was one of three this month that failed to produce a win for United Russia, the ruling party that is loyal to Putin.

A scheduled runoff in a fourth region was postponed after the United Russia candidate withdrew at the last minute, citing health concerns.

Speaking at a film festival in Vladivostok, the regional capital, Seagal said he had ancestors from the area.

"I want to study Primorsky Krai, to see more. And become your governor," Interfax quoted him as saying.

The report did not indicate whether Seagal, who received an ovation after the remark, may have been joking.

Seagal, 66, starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992).

His films were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.

One of several Western actors and athletes who have been granted Russian citizenship under Putin, he was appointed by the Foreign Ministry as a special envoy for cultural ties with the United States in August.

In Vladivostok, Seagal noted that the appointment was recent and said he is "still in the stage of talks with the Foreign Ministry," Interfax reported.

"While I have not held the post for long, I continue to do what I have always done: strengthen links between the countries," it quoted him as saying.

He was quoted as saying he does "the same thing for Japan -- I discuss issues in diplomatic relations."

With reporting by Interfax
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