Actor Steven Seagal appointed Russian ministry’s ‘special representative’

Actor Steven Seagal attends the SMASH Global V pre Oscar fight at Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles California

The actor has been a very public supporter of Putin, going on television to defend the Russian president over accusations of meddling in the 2016 United States elections.

Back in 2016, Steven Seagal was awarded Russian citizenship, likely because he was making so many trips to visit his friend Vladimir Putin.

Moscow has appointed USA actor Steven Seagal as a special envoy, dealing with humanitarian links with the United States, the Russian foreign ministry announced on Saturday. "In worldwide practice it is possible to draw Parallels with the functions of the goodwill ambassadors of the United Nations", - said the press service of the foreign Ministry in its statement.

In a Facebook post, the Russian Foreign Ministry said his role is to facilitate relations between the two countries "in the humanitarian field, including cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges". The two countries are also at odds over Syria and Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy in the United States also confirmed the appointment on Twitter.

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"I've always had a very strong desire to do all I can to help improve Russian-American relations", Seagal said. In his first big role in the 1988 movie Above the Law, Seagal played a former Central Intelligence Agency agent, and in one of his latest films, Mercenary: Absolution, he played a contract killer.

Seagal's grandmother was born in Vladivostok, and the actor and Putin share a passion for martial arts.

A Kremlin spokesperson cited Seagal's "warm feelings toward Russia" and his celebrity status as reasons for the gesture, according to Reuters.

The Independent says that Seagal has "faced some criticism for some comments he has made about the controversial Russian leader", including describing Putin as "one of the greatest world leaders" during a 2013 interview.

In a video of the event, Putin and Seagal shake hands.

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