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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 August 2018

Russia names Steven Seagal as humanitarian envoy for US

The 1990s action movie star remains hugely popular in Russia and was granted citizenship in 2016

Russia has appointed action movie star Steven Seagal as a special envoy for humanitarian ties with the United States. AP
Russia has appointed action movie star Steven Seagal as a special envoy for humanitarian ties with the United States. AP

Moscow has appointed US actor Steven Seagal as a special envoy, dealing with humanitarian links to the US, the Russian foreign ministry announced on Saturday.

"Stephen Seagal has been appointed special representative of the ministry of foreign affairs of Russia on Russian-American Humanitarian Ties," the foreign ministry said.

"The task is to promote the further development of Russian-American relations in the humanitarian sphere, including interaction in the field of culture, art, public and youth exchanges and more," it said.

Seagal's fame peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the US with films such as Under Siege and Above the Law but he remains hugely popular in Eastern Europe and was granted Russian and Serbian citizenships in 2016.

He has met Russian President Vladimir Putin, a fellow martial arts fan.

After Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Seagal called Mr Putin "one of the great living world leaders" and even performed with his blues band in the annexed Black Sea peninsula.

Seagal was seen at the World Cup in Russia last month and was also among the guests when Mr Putin was sworn in for a fourth term in May.

The 66-year-old actor is also among the Hollywood figures accused of sexual misconduct during the "Me Too" campaign.

The Russian ministry said he would not be paid for his envoy role.

The announcement comes as Russia-US ties are at a low ebb over long-standing conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, which Moscow rejects.

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