Vladimir Putin and Steven Seagal are working on a project

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Vladimir Putin has reached back to Joseph Stalin’s era for a plan to improve Russians’ physical fitness, appearing with the film actor Steven Seagal at an event aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among young people.

In a meeting at a martial arts school on Moscow’s outskirts, Putin called for physical education rooted in a Soviet-era system.

“I think it would be quite appropriate to recall the positive experience of past decades when the so-called GTO, Ready for Labour and Defence, was in use in our country,” he said. The GTO mass physical training programme was introduced in the 1930s under Stalin.

“The revival of this system – in a new, modern format – could bring major benefits,” Putin told government officials, schoolteachers and coaches.

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