Action star Steven Seagal named Russia’s special envoy to US

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The martial arts experts and the owner of a 7th-dan black belt in aikido is often credited as "Vladimir Putin's good friend" in the Western media after he signed his newly received Russian passport in the presence of the President in 2016.

According to the statement, the action star's role will be to promote US-Russia relations "in the humanitarian sphere", adding that the role will include collaboration "in the sphere of culture, public and youth exchanges".

The Russian foreign minister announced on Facebook that the actor will be its special envoy for humanitarian ties with the US.

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In 2013, BuzzFeed reported that Putin suggested to President Barack Obama that Seagal serve as an honorary envoy of Russian Federation to help improve relations between the two countries.

The actor, who was granted Russian citizenship in 2016, has robustly defended the Russian leader's policies and once told Piers Morgan on ITV's Good Morning Britain that anyone who thought Putin had attempted to rig the USA elections was "stupid".

"It is the case when people's diplomacy meets halfway traditional diplomacy", the ministry said.

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He has defended Putin's policies, including the 2014 annexation of Crimea, and has criticized the U.S. government. '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'. Last year, be was banned from Ukraine for five years, apparently because of his support for Putin's policies. His movies, including such titles as "Under Siege" and 'Sniper: Special Ops, ' are popular with Russian audiences.

Seagal's grandmother was born in Vladivostok, and the actor and Putin share a passion for martial arts.

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