Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it had made U.S. actor Steven Seagal its special representative for Russian-U.S. humanitarian ties, a role it said was meant to deepen cultural, art and youth ties between the two countries.
President Vladimir Putin presented a Russian passport to U.S. actor Steven Seagal in 2016, saying he hoped it would serve as a symbol of how fractious ties between Moscow and Washington were starting to improve.
The Russian Foreign Ministry likened Seagal’s new role to that of a U.N. goodwill ambassador and said that the actor, who is known for his martial arts prowess, would receive no salary.
“It’s a case of people’s diplomacy intersecting with traditional diplomacy,” the ministry said.
Seagal, who sometimes appears on Russian state TV to talk about his views and career, was cited by Kremlin-backed TV station RT as welcoming the appointment.
“I’ve always had a very strong desire to do all I can to help improve Russian-American relations,” RT cited Seagal as saying. “I have worked tirelessly in this direction for many years unofficially and I am now very grateful for the opportunity to do the same thing officially.”
For more than a decade Seagal, who according to his own website is 66, has been a regular visitor to Russia. His movies, including such titles as “Under Siege” and “Sniper: Special Ops,” are popular with Russian audiences.
President Putin is also a fan of the kind of martial arts that Seagal often practiced in his Hollywood action movies.