Russia's President Vladimir Putin and American action movie actor Steven Seagal visit a newly-built sports complex in Moscow.
Credit: AFP

The fact that Steven Seagal is the new face of the Russian weapons industry raises many questions, among them: why is he doing this?

Sure, he's been buddies with Putin for a while now, but this is a whole new level. Does he need the money now that his film career is behind him? Or is it an image thing?

Who is the real Steven Seagal?

For starters he's a big star in Russia. So, it's clear why they would want him. A plethora of his B-grade action flicks from the '90s were dubbed into Russian and became very popular there.

But it's less obvious why he's agreed to appear in ads marketing Russian weapons in the United States.

It doesn't seem to jibe with his religious views (Buddhist) or many of his activist endeavors.

Furry friends

He's worked with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to discourage the fur trade, and was awarded a PETA Humanitarian Award in 1999 for preventing the export of baby elephants from South Africa to Japan.

He cares a lot about baby elephants. In 2003, he wrote to the leadership of Thailand, pushing for legislation that would address the torture of baby elephants. He's also written to the prime minister of India to seek increased legal protection for cows.

He cares about the environment. He's a vegetarian.

New sheriff in town

Well, deputy sheriff.

Seagal has a passion for the US-Mexico border. In 2011, he was sworn in as deputy sheriff in Hudspeth County, Texas.

He supposedly called the sheriff's office himself asking for the job, according to the San Antonio Express.

They said yes, perhaps because they had seen his 1997 film, "Fire Down Below," in which Seagal plays an environmental protection officer who kicks some law enforcement butt:

But that wasn't even his first stint with law enforcement.

He's been a trained peace officer for more than 20 years. You'd be forgiven for not remembering his reality show on A&E, "Steven Seagal: Lawman," but that was about his work with the sheriff's department in Jefferson Parish, La.

Of course, that show didn't end so well for Seagal. He wound up being sued for the death of a puppy whose owner said was shot and killed during a police raid for the show.

Seagal told Forbes earlier this year that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Apparently they also kill puppies.

He's taken up law enforcement posts in other states, including New Mexico, where he patrols the border as deputy sheriff for Doña Ana County.

World tour

And he has visited countries like Costa Rica, where he aimed to train police officers.

That visit, however, didn't go so well. According to local media, he felt "very hurt" that President Laura Chinchilla snubbed him and refused a meeting.

"He leaves the country very hurt," Seagal's lawyer told media. "He said that he doesn't need Costa Rica and there are many other countries where he can invest."

Maybe one of those countries is Russia. That would explain a lot.

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