Former action movie star Steven Seagal, an ardent supporter of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and his war on Ukraine, on Tuesday launched an “international movement of Russophiles” with support from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Seagal’s project is built from a pro-Russia group established by former Bulgarian presidential candidate Nikolay Malinov, a close ally of Putin.
Malinov claims Putin personally encouraged him to develop his club into an international movement. The name of the operation used to be “Russophiles for the Revival of the Fatherland,” but someone apparently decided to give it a marginally less creepy name before taking it worldwide.
Malinov is wanted on espionage charges in Bulgaria, which he was forbidden to leave after he was charged in 2019 with spying for Russia. In February, he was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for bribing a Bulgarian judge to let him travel to Russia so he could collect a friendship medal and $30,000 payoff from Putin. It is not clear if Malinov ever returned to Bulgaria from that trip, as there is photographic evidence he was still in Russia as of early March.
The Treasury also designated Malinov’s pro-Russia group for sanctions, which raises the possibility that Seagal and his “international movement of Russophiles” will be sanctioned as well.
Malinov said in a Russian TV interview that Segal’s group will create a “European Citizen’s Initiative” whose objectives will include lifting European sanctions against Russia, which is the sort of political meddling from Russia that is frowned upon in Western capitals these days. In February, he did a TV interview with a backdrop of people stomping on the European Union flag, which certainly will not make his and Seagal’s operation any more welcome on the continent.
Seagal kept the charm offensive going by declaring his eternal allegiance to Russia at an event in Moscow on Monday.
The actor, who was born in Michigan but obtained Russian citizenship in 2016 and became a “special humanitarian envoy” for the Russian Foreign Ministry in 2018, said he became “one million percent” Russian after Putin gave him the Order of Friendship medal in February.
Seagal railed against the U.S. government allegedly spending “billions of dollars on disinformation” to “discredit, demoralize, and destroy the emerging morale of Russia.”
“Over half of the people in America actually love Russia and love Russians and know that they’re being lied to,” he claimed.
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