In the last month, boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. and UFC veteran Jeff Monson officially became Russian citizens. The decision was one that surprised Russian fans and fighters, including former Bellator champion Alexander Shlemenko, who called the government's decision "embarrassing."
"I consider this to be a very bad attitude," Shlemenko told lenta.ru. "I think it's just embarrassing. What is the nationality of our country, if it is so easily scattered? Shame, Russia."
Shlemenko's main argument is that several of his students were members of the former Soviet Union bloc yet were still denied Russian citizenship. However, it seemed the government had no issues handing passports out to American celebrities with few ties to the nation.
On Monday morning, Monson released a statement in response to Shlemenko's concerns.
"I would like to express my sincerest thanks once more to President Vladimir Putin for granting me Russian citizenship," Monson told sovsports.ru. "Much like its people, Russia has the true spirit of a warrior and defends principles of justice in the world in the face of the most arrogant, fiercest enemies. I am proud to be a citizen of this great country and plan to build my life here .
"The problems expressed by Mr. Shlemenko are indeed important and the Russian government, as far as I know, is working very hard and doing its best to protect, support and ensure the repatriation of ethnic Russians worldwide and from across the former Soviet Union. As for Mr. Shlemenko, he is a great fighter and I wish him and his team all the best. "