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‘My Country Does Terrible Things’: MMA Fighter Jeff Monson On Why He Renounced US Citizenship

© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich / Go to the mediabankAmerican fighter mixed martial arts Jeff Monson
American fighter mixed martial arts Jeff Monson  - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.05.2023
American-born athlete Jeff Monson, known for his skill in a variety of martial arts, renounced his US citizenship earlier this week, having obtained his Russian citizenship in 2018. Sputnik spoke with Monson about the changes in himself and his life through the process of changing from a US citizen to a Russian.
“I felt Russian for a long time in my heart and my soul, even before I got a Russian passport. I'd been coming to Russia for maybe 12, 13 years now, and I felt Russian for a long time. And when I got the passport, it just made it official. You know, it obviously made it easier for me to have jobs here, to do work here, to have family here,” Monsoon told Sputnik.
"But now the American citizenship... It was a difficult decision because I need an American passport to freely go to the USA because I have three children in America. And now, without a visa, it's impossible to go to America. The United States is angry with me, of course. So they're not going to likely give me a visa. So when I meet my kids, it's going to have to be in some other country. So this was a problem with this decision.”

“But I can't support a country that's attacking my country where I live with my family. They're attacking the people of Donbass. They've killed thousands and thousands by supporting Ukraine. They've killed three of my friends in Donbass already. When I went to Donetsk, they had a big bomb that landed in the middle of the city, where people would park, and it didn't explode. They left it there, though. And I went and saw it said "Lockheed Martin". It's the American company that made this bomb. It's from an American company. So, we know this already, but it's just a reminder that America is supporting this war.”

Monson told Sputnik that traveling to Russia in 2011 changed his perception of what kind of people Russians are, helping him realize they’re not the perpetual villains always seen in Western films. However, his friends who haven’t shared his experiences have had trouble with that revelation.
“Luckily, I had a pretty open mind when I came to Russia. Like Red Square, some of the sites of St. Petersburg are exactly how I saw, how I envisioned it. But the people were much different. In America, I thought the Russians were very cold and did not have a big heart and did not care about other people and were very angry, and that was shocking to me, to find out this was absolutely not true, that Russians are very supportive, very oriented towards family, very oriented towards community. And they cared very much about other people.”
“But it's the American movies, American media, Western media, and the American government that portrays this picture. You watch an American movie, if there's a Russian guy in it, he's always, always a bad guy. He's never a good guy, always a bad guy, like - ‘Vladimir - He wants to kill people. He does this.’ He's always bad. Americans don't have any idea about how Russians really are, about how patriotic they are, how they love their country, how they love their community.”
“And when I’ve had American friends, my best friend Shane came from America to Russia and spent one week here and he was shocked. He said the same thing. He was like, ‘Man, I thought Russians were like, this and that’. And my team, American Top Team, my fighting team in Miami, they have now maybe 20 Russians that are part of this team that came from Russia. And all my friends on this team, my American friends said, ‘Man, these Russians are so good guys. They work hard, they're polite, they're respectful, they're funny, they're our friends, that's nothing like we expected.’

“My real friends, especially from the American Top Team, support me because they actually see Russians. So they support me. My friends who've come here, I have like three friends who come to Russia, and they support me because they see what I see. Some family members - not so much my children, but some of my cousins, aunts, uncles - they don't support this at all and they don't understand Russia. And so I've unfortunately lost communication with some people from my family and some people who I kind of kept in contact with don't talk to me anymore not just because I'm in Russia, but because I support Russia.”

“My true friends who I communicate with all the time, my children who I communicate with, they want me home, of course. They want me to be there next to them so they don't like me being away. But they support what I believe in. They believe what I see and what I tell them. So in this way I have their support.”
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