Moscow - Legendary U.S. boxer Roy Jones Jr. has filed for Russian citizenship,
state TV reported on Thursday, a day after the multiple champion met
President Vladimir Putin and said he wanted to build bridges between
Russia and the United States.
Putin, at odds with the West over
the Ukraine crisis, responded positively.
"If you plan to commit a large
part of your live to activity in Russia, then we will naturally be
pleased and satisfy your request to get a Russian passport, Russian
citizenship," he told Jones in footage shown online.
received the American boxer in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula Russia
annexed from Ukraine last year in a move that drove relations between
Moscow and the West, including Washington, to a post-Cold War low.
to prove wrong those saying Russia has faced international isolation
over its role in the Ukraine crisis, Moscow has relentlessly publicised
cases of popular Westerners praising Russia and sometimes even seeking
"I want to ask you about maybe having a passport to
go back and forth so that I can do business here because all the people
here seem to love Roy Jones Jr., and I love when people love me," the
former boxer told Putin on Wednesday evening.
would also help build a bridge between the two countries. Which is what I
want to do," Jones, looking relaxed in a grey shirt, was shown saying
in footage from the meeting posted on the Kremlin website.
welcomed the U.S. boxer by saying "nice to meet you" in English and
Jones complimented him on his knowledge of the language. The two went on
to discuss sports. Putin is famously a sports buff and an avid judoist
The next day Russian state TV broadcaster Rossiya 24 showed Jones filling in an application for Russian citizenship.
dealt the United States a political poke in the eye in 2013 by granting
asylum to Edward Snowden, a former U.S. spy agency contractor who had
leaked details of mass state surveillance and is wanted by Washington.
in 2013, French actor Gerard Depardieu made headlines when Putin
granted him Russian citizenship. Ukraine banned Depardieu from the
country for five years for his stance on Crimea and his defence of
Russia's foreign policy.
American actors Steven Seagal and Mickey
Rourke are also among Western celebrities who have socialised with Putin
and praised him, as well as Russia, despite the deep chill in
diplomatic relations between Moscow and the West.
States, along with the European Union, slapped sanctions on Russia for
annexing Crimea. It has since stepped them up, blaming Moscow for
driving a pro-Russian separatist rebellion that erupted in east Ukraine
in April 2014, killing more than 6 500 people to date. Moscow denies the
The conflict in Syria, human rights, defence and
security, as well as trade issues are among other disputes between
Moscow and Washington.