Putin gives citizenship to known American boxer and war criminal

Written by Jeppe W

Jan.10 - 2024 9:03 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently signed a decree granting Russian citizenship to 44 foreigners, a diverse group that includes notable public figures, athletes, journalists, and individuals with controversial backgrounds, according to the independant Russian newspaper Novaja Gaseta.

This move by the Kremlin has drawn attention due to the varied profiles of the new Russian citizens.

Among the most notable recipients of Russian citizenship is American boxer Kevin Johnson.

Known for his professional career spanning 60 fights, Johnson's connection with Russia intensified after he wore a T-shirt with President Vladimir Putin's image and adopted the patronymic "Vladimirovich" in honor of the Russian leader. He stated, "Now I'm 100 percent Russian," marking a symbolic commitment to his new nationality.

Canadian hockey player Brendan Leipsic, who has been playing in Russia since 2020, is another sports figure granted citizenship. Leipsic has played for several Russian clubs, including CSKA Moscow and Metallurg Magnitogorsk, and has a history of 187 games in the National Hockey League.

The list also includes former Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Minister of Economy of Moldova, Andrei Cucu, who has had a significant political career in Moldova before acquiring Russian nationality.

Emmanuelle Forest, a former French official and participant in the Russian show "The Voice 60+," is another notable figure. Forest, who has held various positions in French Ministries and leads a major construction company, displayed his affinity for Russian culture by performing "Moscow Nights" in both Russian and French on the show.

Controversially, the list includes Ratko Samac, a former officer of the Yugoslav National Army accused of war crimes during the Bosnian War. Samac has been sought by Bosnia and Herzegovina for extradition but has received protection from Russia.

Two RT journalists, Peter Lavelle and Roman Zyskin, also received citizenship. Lavelle is known for hosting the TV show CrossTalk, while Zyskin has reported from conflict zones, including Mariupol, Ukraine.

Croatian doctor Mirella Jakupanec, who served in the self-proclaimed "DPR" and signed a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense, is another recipient. She faces legal challenges in her native Croatia, where she is considered a mercenary.

Other notable recipients include Andrei Kalageorgi, a claimed descendant of Catherine II from the United States, and Mexican director Sergio Olkhovich Green, known for his films and Russian connections.