Jeff Monson returns to Russia’s political arena 

Jeff Monson, the US-born MMA fighter, has registered as a candidate in the regional parliamentary elections in Bashkortostan, a federal subject of Russia.

By: Karim Zidan | 1 month ago
Jeff Monson returns to Russia’s political arena 
Credit: IMAGO / Russian Look

After proclaiming his intention to renounce his U.S. citizenship, Jeff Monson is diving back into the political fray. 

According to Russian state-owned news agency TASS, Monson has registered as a candidate in the regional parliamentary elections in Bashjortostan, Russia’s most populous republic. 

“The famous MMA fighter, the first vice president of the Bashkortostan Wrestling Federation, Jeff Monson, applied for registration as a participant in the preliminary vote,” read the official statement. 

Monson, who was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin in May 2018, is planning to participate in the upcoming elections as a member of the United Russia political party—the country’s largest party that maintains a longstanding majority in parliament and supports the policies of the incumbent Putin. 

This is not the first time that Monson has pivoted to politics during his professional career. In 2018, the American fighter was elected to the council of deputies in Krasnogorsk, a small city just outside Moscow. At the time, Monson ran as an independent, even though he had cultivated ties with Russia’s Communist Party. 

“Everything I do in Krasnogorsk – it’s because I love Russia,” Monson was cited as saying at the time.

Jeff Monson’s popularity in Russia was due to his staunch criticism of U.S. foreign policy, which he reiterated in regular interviews. In 2016, he penned a column for Newsweek explaining why he became a Russian citizen.

“Amid Russia’s clash with America on Ukraine and Syria, the country’s taken a real pummeling in the media. But after spending a lot of time there, which I recommend anyone do, it’s clear to me that Russia isn’t consumed with expanding threads of power or capitalism. It’s concerned with the well-being of its people. And I respect its ability to focus on itself, to address its own issues,” he explained. “So when people ask me why I sought Russian citizenship, it’s hard to give a concise answer. I guess it’s because I just feel Russian”

However, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Monson’s politics have aligned with the Kremlin. In April, the All-Russia People’s Front—a political coalition started by Russian President Vladimir Putin—posted several videos featuring Monson parroting Kremlin talking points. These included claims that Russia was not interested in occupying Ukraine and that its only intention was to rid the country of fascism.

In September 2022, Monson announced that he was working on a documentary about the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which was recently annexed by the Russian Federation.

“Everybody six months ago was saying, ‘Oh, Russia’s so bad, Russia’s invading Ukraine.’ “No, Russia came to save the people of Donbass. And people are like, ‘Where’s Donbass, where’s Donetsk?’ Nobody in the world, expect perhaps Russia, understood what was happening,” Monson said in a clip promoting the documentary at the time.

Monson later announced his decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship in an interview with RT, adding that part of his motivation to do so was because the US “provoked” the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

“America started this war by instigating the coup in 2014,” Jeff Monson said in reference to Euromaidan before pushing a series of unverified conspiracy theories. “Since then, they have been supplying Ukraine with weapons to destabilize the country. Ukraine is going to become a colony of corporate America.”

It remains unclear whether Jeff Monson has officially surrendered his U.S. passport yet. He continues to be referred to as an “American MMA fighter” in Russian media. 

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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