Russian President Vladimir Putin, the country’s strongman, has decided he wants the Russian people to be strong, too; he has joined with Hollywood action hero Steven Seagal in opening a new martial arts center outside Moscow.
Putin said of his revival of Joseph Stalin’s GTO system, “Children should become strong, they should be healthy, love sports and have an opportunity to practice them, should know how to defend themselves, their loved ones, their family. Ultimately, they should be able to defend their motherland.”
GTO means “Ready for Work and Defense.”
Seagal and Putin even devised a Hollywood moment. The event marking the opening of the center included a band and the students of the school, who clamored to pose with Putin. When they did, Seagal barreled through the children to “save” Putin, as an announcer intoned, “Kids, remain calm, it’s a great honor to take pictures with the president of Russia.”
Putin is apparently enamored with film stars; last month the French acting legend Gerard Depardieu received Russian citizenship. And a Putin spokesman confirmed that he genuinely likes Seagal, saying: “Putin and Seagal have long been friends, and they regularly meet each other.”