US MMA fighter elected to Russia local council

Moscow (AFP) –


The American professional mixed martial arts fighter Jeff Monson, who was granted Russian citizenship this year, has been elected to the local council of a small town near Moscow.

Elena Prochakovskaya, an official for the ruling United Russia party in the Krasnogorsk district, confirmed the MMA star's win to Russian news agencies Tuesday.

Despite not being a member of the Kremlin-aligned party, local United Russia members chose him as a candidate through an internal election.

"Actually I was invited to run by United Russia but I ran as an independent," he wrote on his Twitter account following nationwide local elections at the weekend.

The 47-year-old heavyweight fighter, who describes himself as an "anarcho-communist" and has anti-capitalist tattoos, was once drawn to the Russian Communist Party but has since distanced himself.

"Unfortunately I learned there are no communists in communist party in Russia," wrote Monson, who has fought under the nickname 'The Snowman'.

President Vladimir Putin officially bestowed Russian nationality on Monson this summer.

Monson's relationship with Russia began in 2011 when he came to Moscow to fight Russian Fedor Emelianenko.

The event was famously visited by Putin who congratulated the victorious Emelianenko and was booed by the 20,000-strong audience.

Monson is also a citizen of the self-proclaimed republic of Lugansk in the east of Ukraine, which is held by Russia-backed rebels.

"I have big plans for working with children, I have come up with various projects, including projects connected to a healthy lifestyle," the sportsman was quoted as saying in a Russian-language post to local United Russia social media pages.

"Everything I do in Krasnogorsk, I do because I love Russia," he said.

Monson has told the Russian press his political ambitions are not limited to the local council and in time he would consider a seat in the Russian parliament.