Steven Seagal banned by Ukraine as a threat
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.