Russian President and judo enthusiast Vladimir Putin is relaunching a Soviet-era fitness regimen in order to make his citizens more fit and fierce like Steven Seagal, the U.S. action star who's the unofficial spokesman and supporter of the program.
Putin first announced the program last year and framed it as a way to "pay homage to our national and historical traditions." He also invited Seagal to Moscow to tour a newly built sports complex and help promote the program to the country's youth.
Now, the Russian president is in the process of actually implementing the fitness program, according to The Washington Post.
The "Ready for Labor and Defense" workout was originally launched in 1931 by dictator Joseph Stalin. It prescribes courses of "Strength and Courage," "Cheerfulness and Health," and "Physical Perfection," for Russia's schoolchildren ages six and up as well as university students.
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The original plan was to have the program up and running by 2016, but it appears that deadline has been bumped up, thanks to leftover funds from the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi last month.
"The Olympics and Paralympics have demonstrated that we are again becoming one of the leaders in global sports," Putin said after his country's first-place finish with 33 gold medals. "We’re discussing what is necessary to . . . attract the vast majority of our citizens to take part in regular physical training."
Although some expected him to, Seagal certainly hasn't distanced himself from Putin since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In fact, according to The Moscow Times, he did a 2,000-word interview with state-run newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta
published Wednesday in which he said Putin's "desire to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the Russian Black Sea military base in Sevastopol . . . is very reasonable."
Furthermore, Seagal called U.S. policy regarding the Ukraine situation "idiotic" and praised Putin as "one of the great living world leaders" — even going so far as saying he "would like to consider him as a brother."
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