Putin gives U.S. actor Seagal top state award for 'humanitarian work'

FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Putin meets U.S. actor Seagal in Moscow

LONDON (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed a top state award on Hollywood actor Steven Seagal to reward him for his international humanitarian and cultural work, a state decree published on Monday showed.

The decree said the 70-year-old star of action films such as "Under Siege" had been given Russia's Order of Friendship. There was no immediate reaction from Seagal.

The decree mentioned Seagal's work as a special representative of Russia's Foreign Ministry for humanitarian ties with the United States and Japan.

The U.S.-born actor and martial arts practitioner has worked in Japan and has long admired Putin, from whom he received a Russian passport in 2016.

Seagal, a frequent visitor to Russia, backed Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 as "very reasonable", joined a pro-Kremlin party in 2021, and visited a Russian-controlled part of eastern Ukraine last summer, where he met with a Russian-backed separatist leader.

Ukraine in 2017 banned Seagal from entering for five years on national security grounds.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Kevin Liffey)