On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded Hollywood actor Steven Seagal the prestigious Order of Friendship. The presidential decree stated that the actor was being recognized for his "great contribution to the development of international cultural and humanitarian cooperation."
Seagal's Appointment as Russian Foreign Ministry Envoy
In 2018, Seagal was appointed as a special envoy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tasked with improving Russian-American humanitarian relations.
The actor, who became a Russian citizen in 2016, is known for his strong political views and support for Putin. As per the Russian Embassy's Facebook post, Seagal was appointed as the "Russian Foreign Ministry's special representative for Russian-US humanitarian ties." The actor's role includes facilitating cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges, among other fields, to improve bilateral ties between Russia and the United States.
"Celebrated actor Steven Seagal, who is a Russian citizen, has been appointed as a special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in charge of the Russian-US humanitarian ties, the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote on Facebook.
Steven Seagal was appointed as the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for Russian-US humanitarian ties," the ministry said. "The task is to facilitate relations between Russia and the United States in the humanitarian field, including cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges, and so on.
The Russian foreign ministry has explained that the position is public and is not expected to be paid. It is the case when people’s diplomacy meets halfway traditional diplomacy," the ministry said. As for international practice, you can draw a parallel with the functions of United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors." the post said.
Controversial Visit to Eastern Ukraine
Last year, Seagal made a highly publicized visit to eastern Ukraine as part of his work on a documentary. While the visit was widely praised by pro-Kremlin commentators, it sparked criticism from other observers.
Seagal's visit included a stop at the Olenivka prison, where at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war are believed to have been killed, leading to outrage from many who saw it as inappropriate.