Russian president Vladimir Putin has granted Russian citizenship to Roy Jones Jr, a prominent US professional boxer who had asked for it last month when he met Putin in the disputed region of Crimea, the Kremlin said at the weekend.
The move is the latest example of the Kremlin publicising cases of prominent Westerners who praise Russia or offer symbolic support for Putin’s policies, at a time when Putin is at odds with Western governments over the Ukraine crisis.
A short presidential decree on the Kremlin website said Jones’ request had been granted under an article of the constitution giving the president power to solve questions of Russian citizenship questions.
Jones, a former Olympic silver medalist and winner of multiple world championship titles, met Putin in August in Crimea, the region that Russia annexed from Ukraine last year, where Jones appeared as a guest on a boxing television show.
In televised comments, the boxer had told Putin that a Russian passport would make it easier for him to travel to Russia and that he hoped he could “build a bridge” between Russia and the US. Jones is not the first Russophile Western celebrity to have been granted citizenship by Putin.
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