Russia names Steven Seagal special envoy to US

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday (August 4) it had made US actor Steven Seagal its special representative for Russian-US humanitarian ties, a role it said was meant to deepen cultural, art and youth ties between the two countries.

NEW YORK • Maybe Russia feels like it is under siege.

On Saturday, it named American action star Steven Seagal, 66, as an unpaid special envoy to the United States.

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".

Ties between the two nations are in a rocky phase, with American intelligence agencies accusing Moscow of interfering in then presidential candidate Donald Trump's White House run.

Russia is like a second "home" to Seagal. In 2016, he met Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin to receive an unusual gift - his very own Russian passport.

Seagal's grandmother was born in Vladivostok, Russia, and the two men share a passion for martial arts.

But Seagal has faced some criticism for his bromance with Mr Putin. He has praised Russia's annexation of Crimea, for example.

Russia is not the only country "knocked out" by Seagal's action-man status.

In 2016, state media reported that Serbia had offered him citizenship for offering to open a martial-arts academy in Belgrade.

The actor's fame peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s with films such as Under Siege and Above The Law, but he remains popular in eastern Europe.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2018, with the headline 'Russia names Steven Seagal special envoy to US'. Print Edition | Subscribe