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Hollywood actor Steven Seagal joins pro-Kremlin party

Steven Seagal attends celebrations for 110th anniversary of the first basketball tournament in Russia on Dec. 17, 2016 at the Dynamo Sports Palace in Krylatskoye, Russia. (Mikhail Japaridze/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Hollywood actor Steven Seagal, who has Russian citizenship, has joined a pro-Kremlin political party.

The A Just Russia party backs almost all Kremlin initiatives and supports President Vladimir Putin but is a rival of the ruling United Russia party.

At a ceremony on May 29, Seagal posed for pictures next to one of the party leaders, Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin, who is associated with Russia-backed separatists that are fighting against Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Seagal, who has personal ties with Putin, was given Russian citizenship in 2016.

The 69-year-old actor has starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His films were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.

One of several Western actors and athletes who have been granted Russian citizenship under Putin, he was appointed by the Foreign Ministry as a special envoy for cultural ties with the United States in 2018.

The U.S.-born martial artist has retained his American citizenship.