Steven Seagal visits prison holding Ukrainian detainees days after dozens killed in attack

·3-min read

Steven Seagal has visited a prison camp run by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine which was hit by a deadly attack days earlier.

The Hollywood action star, 70, was photographed looking through the bars of the complex at the prisoners of war inside.

He was later pictured inside the ruined building in the frontline town of Olenivka in Donetsk Oblast.

Among the detainees were reportedly members of the far-right Azov battalion who had been captured in Mariupol where Ukrainian forces held out against Russian troops for months during the war.

Seagal's visit comes after more than 50 people were killed and dozens of others were injured in a 29 July incident at the jail.

Russia claimed Ukraine's military used US-supplied HIMARS rockets to strike the prison in an area controlled by the Moscow-backed Donetsk People's Republic.

However, Ukraine's armed forces denied responsibility, saying Russian artillery had targeted the jail to hide the mistreatment of those held there.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia a "terrorist state" and said its neighbour had committed a war crime.

Also, the US said its intelligence had established Russia was looking to plant false evidence to make it appear that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the attack.

Seagal has a close relationship with Russia and has previously hailed President Vladimir Putin as "one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader, alive today".

The On Deadly Ground star is an accomplished martial artist, just like Mr Putin. He was granted Russian citizenship in 2016.

In a new video posted on Telegram, the Under Siege actor, who is reportedly in Ukraine to film a documentary about the invasion, gave his view on what he thought happened in the prison.

He said: "If you look at the structure from the outside and the inside, it sure looks like a rocket or a missile to me.

"If you look at the beds and all of the stuff like that, this is certainly not a bomb. Not to mention that the Russian government now does have a lot of artefacts from the HIMARS."

The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Denis Pushilin, has been pictured with Seagal and said the actor "wants to change the way people view the war".

Mr Pushilin said on Telegram: "Steven noted that 98% of those who talk about the conflict in the media have never been here. Therefore the world does not know the truth."

Reuters footage showed the remains of a burned-out building filled with metal beds, some with charred bodies lying on them while other bodies were lined up on military stretchers or on the ground outside.

In 2018, Russia handed Seagal the task of keeping relations cordial with the US.

At the time, the Russian foreign minister announced on Facebook that the actor would be its special envoy for humanitarian ties with America

A year earlier, Ukraine banned Seagal from entering the country for five years, citing national security reasons.

Celebrities who have visited Ukraine to meet and support President Zelenskyy include Hollywood actors Ben Stiller, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain as well as U2 singer Bono.