Actor Steven Seagal, star of more than 50 films seems to have lost his mind. He is now a Russian citizen and a propaganda asset for Vladimir Putin. Seagal moved to Russia in 2015.
In a 2020 court settlement in New York, Segal agreed to cough up some $330,000 to the SEC for a failure to disclose that he was a paid spokesman for a cryptocurrency he promoted. Seagal paid just $75,000 of the amount and then skipped out on the rest.
As related in the settlement, “These investors were entitled to know about payments Seagal received or was promised to endorse this investment so they could decide whether he may be biased,” by Kristina Littman, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit. “Celebrities are not allowed to use their social media influence to tout securities without appropriately disclosing their compensation.”
He has also been the target of numerous lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and even rape of female costars and staffers.
Seagal received Russian citizenship personally from Putin in a special ceremony in 2016. This resulted in him being banned from Ukraine by its government in 2017 for a period of five years. Making Seagal a Russian citizen was hyped in Moscow as a move towards normalizing relations between Russia and the US. In 2018, Seagal was appointed as a special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry to help improve relations with the US.
Putin seems to have wasted no time in using Seagal as a propaganda asset. Prior to his grant of citizenship Seagal, who is now 69 years old was tasked with training Serbian special forces, presumably in Akito and other martial arts. Prior to being granted Russian citizenship in 2017, Seagal also accepted a passport from Serbia as a citizen of that country in 2016. He has been a vocal supporter of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while also dismissing allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections saying, “For anyone to think that Vladimir Putin had anything to do with fixing the elections, or even that the Russians have that kind of technology, is stupid.”
In 2021, Seagal joined the Just Russia party as a spokesman to promote its platform of environmental justice against companies ruining the environment in Russia(I know, it’s hard to wrap our heads around that one too).
Seagal and Putin are said to be great friends with the actor and the Russian president attending martial arts exhibitions together and Seagal being present the last time Putin was sworn in as president.
Now Putin has put Seagal to use in the war in Ukraine as a propaganda asset, giving the Kremlin line on things like the bombing of the “Penal Colony” that Russia claims was bombed by Ukraine, killing as many as 200 POWs.
There's more: pic.twitter.com/CKcaQOHqMm
— KT "Special Intelligence Operation" (@KremlinTrolls) August 9, 2022
Seagal, who has told various stories about his upbringing now claims to be a Russia by heritage from a Buddhist region of Russia including family in St Petersburg, Belarus, and Vladivostok in Syberia. The odd thing about his claims of Russian-Buddhist ancestry is that his name, Seagal is a derivation of Siegel which is an Ashkenazi Jewish name.
It is also of interest to point out that Russians were frequently portrayed as the bad guys in Seagal’s movies as drug lords and gansters, while Seagal’s own characters were often ex-CIA agents who were of course the nemesis of Russia’s own KGB for half a century.
Seagal has not denounced his US citizenship as of yet, perhaps hedging his bets against an eventual falling out with Putin. The question would be whether Seagal would be able to reenter the US without being considered a security threat himself given his close ties to the Russian government. His skipping out on the settlement with the SEC could result in his arrest as well.