The Seagal. An everyday tale of Russian political life

A while back I wrote that new political parties were being formed in order to contest the Duma elections in Russia next year. The idea being that a few of them might camapaign in the genuine expectation of winning some seats and forming Kremlin-loyalist factions just as United Russia is declining in popularity. Others have no hope of winning seats, but they will draw attention and a few votes away from opposition forces or help to boost turnout.

The plan has now moved on to the next stage as the new parties are rolling out lists of celebrity endorsements and even a few who say they will be putting their name on the ballot paper for their chosen parties. Most of these names don’t mean much outside Russia but one jumps out – Hollywood stuntman turned actor Steven Seagal.

Seagal has appeared in support of Vladimir Putin in the past, having described him as ‘one of the greatest living world leaders’ and was granted Russian citizenship in 2016.

Now he is backing the ‘For Truth’ political party of Zakhar Prilepin. He is on the political council of the party and has apparently expressed a desire to stand for the Duma next year. Whether this latest move turns out to be great drama, or a comedy, may depend on the interpretation given to his role by the Hollywood actor/producer.

For Truth, just like all the other new parties, needs to set up 43 regional branches and win a seat in the regional elections to avoid the requirement to collect 200,000 signatures from across the country – a task which is habitually used in Russia to deny a place on the ballot to genuine opposition parties such as that of Alexei Navalny.