Steven Sea­gal banned by Ukraine as a threat

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY AMY B WANG More at wash­ing­ton­ news/world­views

Steven Sea­gal, the Amer­i­can ac­tor best known for his role in ’90s ac­tion movies such as “Hard to Kill” and “Un­der Siege,” has been black­listed from Ukraine as a na­tional se­cu­rity threat.

Sea­gal is banned from en­ter­ing the coun­try for five years on grounds that he has “com­mit­ted so­cially dan­ger­ous ac­tions . . . that con­tra­dict the in­ter­ests of main­tain­ing Ukraine’s se­cu­rity,” ac­cord­ing to a Ukrainian se­cu­rity ser­vice let­ter pub­lished by the news site Apos­tro­phe and re­ported by the Guardian.

The 65-year-old ac­tor has for years cul­ti­vated a friend­ship with Rus­sian President Vladimir Putin, bond­ing over their love of mar­tial arts and shared ma­cho images.

Al­though the Ukrainian se­cu­rity let­ter does not out­line spe­cific state­ments that got the ac­tor banned, Sea­gal once par­tic­i­pated in a pro-Putin mo­tor­cy­cle rally in Crimea, a dis­puted penin­sula that Rus­sia an­nexed in 2014 after Ukrainian President Vik­tor Yanukovych was over­thrown in a revo­lu­tion.

In an in­ter­view then, Sea­gal de­fended Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea, say­ing that Putin’s “de­sire to pro­tect the Rus­sianspeak­ing peo­ple of Crimea, his as­sets, and the Rus­sian Black Sea mil­i­tary base in Sev­astopol . . . is very rea­son­able,” the Moscow Times re­ported.

Sea­gal’s Crimea com­ments also made him per­sona non grata in Es­to­nia: Or­ga­niz­ers of a 2014 mu­sic fes­ti­val there canceled his set after a back­lash from the Es­to­nian pub­lic.

Dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, Sea­gal of­ten praised the Krem­lin while crit­i­ciz­ing U.S. for­eign pol­icy. In a 2013 in­ter­view with the Rus­sian news chan­nel RT, Sea­gal called Putin “one of the great­est world lead­ers, if not the great­est world leader alive to­day.”

The feel­ing seemed mu­tual. Putin would later pro­pose that Sea­gal be­come an hon­orary Rus­sian en­voy to the United States.

In Novem­ber, Putin granted Rus­sian ci­ti­zen­ship to Sea­gal, pre­sent­ing him with a Rus­sian pass­port in a for­mal cer­e­mony.

It was “an end­ing fit for Hol­ly­wood,” The Washington Post’s An­drew Roth re­ported then, one that con­sum­mated “an odd­cou­ple bro­mance that has blos­somed de­spite years of dark re­la­tions be­tween the two men’s re­spec­tive coun­tries.”

Sea­gal, who openly sup­ported Don­ald Trump dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race, has ap­peared in nu­mer­ous di­rect-to-video films since breaking out as an ac­tion star in the 1990s. He also starred in his own re­al­ity show, “Steven Sea­gal: Law­man,” which showed him team­ing up with law en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions in Louisiana and Ari­zona.

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