Former UFC fighter Jeff Monson revealed that he plans to support current president Vladimir Putin if he gets his Russian passport in time for the elections.
Despite nation-wide election rallies protesting Vladimir Putin’s regime, Jeff Monson still believes the current president is the Russian Federation’s best hope among the current crop of presidential candidates.
In an interview with sports-express.ru, the former UFC title contender revealed that he is still in the process of obtaining his Russian citizenship, and plans to vote for Putin if he receives the passport ahead of the elections on Sunday, March 18.
“If I have the opportunity, I will definitely go to the polls,” said Monson. “I would support Vladimir Putin because he is a strong leader.”
The 65-year-old Russian leader is seeking his second consecutive term in office and his fourth overall at the helm of the Russian government. After barring Alexei Navalny from the race and sanctioning other candidates, Putin’s victory in the upcoming elections is all but guaranteed. His main opposition in the current race is Ksenia Sobchak, a former reality TV host dubbed the “Paris Hilton of Russia.” She is running on a liberal platform that pushes for LGBTQ rights, and the return of Crimea to Ukraine. She is also one of the few candidates to openly criticize the government but is not expected to gain much momentum in the polls.
With Russia’s youth have been attracted to Navalny’s campaign, Putin remains a popular figurehead, despite the two-year recession that afflicted much of the country’s population. Even Monson, a self-proclaimed anarchist, believes Putin is still the strongest candidate in Russian politics.
“I do not agree with him in all matters, but I think he is the best representative of Russia’s interests,” said Monson. “He has a true vision of the country’s development path.”
While Monson plans to retire in the near future, his transformation from fighter to politician is an ongoing one. Though currently in the process of obtaining Russian citizenship, Monson was also named the sports ambassador for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). The Communist Party sent Monson to Luhansk in 2016 as part of a “sports programme”, which is designed to improve the party’s image both on the international stage and at home.
In 2017, Monson became the first American citizen to accept a passport from the Luhansk People’s Republic, an occupied territory in Eastern Ukraine. In a letter to LPR president Igor Venediktovich Plotnitsky obtained by BloodyElbow, Monson stated that he feels a “sincere and deep kinship with the people of Donbas and wholeheartedly support their fight for independence. I am ready to make an active contribution to the development of youth sport on the territory of the republic and to do my part to inform the world community about the reality on the ground in the LPR.”
Asked what he plans to do next when he receives his Russian passport, Monson stated that his intention is to help develop combat sports.
“I’m going to develop sports in your country. I know that in Russia there are a lot of young athletes who are good at sambo, jiu-jitsu, and mixed martial arts. I want to help them progress and enter the international stage. Even before I started dealing with the Greco-Roman wrestling, I heard that Russia dominates this sport. Young Russian wrestlers inspire me. When I see what they are capable of, I understand that together we could achieve new heights.”