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Russian Separatists Boast of Steven Seagal Visit to Ukraine

Hollywood actor Steven Seagal visited eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region on Tuesday to film a documentary about the current war taking place there between Moscow and Kyiv, the Moscow Times reported, citing a Telegram statement issued by Denis Pushilin, the leader of the “Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR),” a Russian separatist group operating in Donbass.

“Steven said that 98% of people who are talking about the conflict in media have never been here [in Donbass]. That’s why the world doesn’t know the truth. He wants to change the perception of this war,” Pushilin wrote in a statement posted on his Telegram channel on August 9.

The Moscow Times detailed the actor’s visit to Donbass this week, observing that he visited the site of Ukraine’s Olenivka prison on Tuesday.

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“Pro-Kremlin television host Vladimir Solovyov said Seagal ‘personally examined the evidence — including the pieces of American rockets — that confirm Kyiv’s links to the mass murder of their own soldiers,’” the online newspaper relayed, citing a Telegram post by Soloviev.

The Russian news site TVZVEZDA published video footage of Seagal at the site of Olenivka prison on August 9 in which he is identified as a “special representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation for Humanitarian Relations between Russia and the U.S.”

Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with Steven Seagal after presenting him with a Russian passport during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, on November 25, 2016. (Alexey Druzhinin/AFP via Sputnik)

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The Olenivka penitentiary exploded under unclear circumstances on July 29 killing an estimated 50 prisoners inside the facility at the time. Moscow and Kyiv have disputed the manner in which the prison exploded, with Russia claiming that “Ukrainian forces used U.S.-made ordnance—a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS—to bring the building down,” the Military Times relayed on August 9 citing the Washington Post.

“The Post, however, indicated that the images from the attack on Olenivka prison are not consistent with HIMARS,” the Miltary Times noted on Tuesday.

“The experts could not definitively say what caused the damage, but they pointed to a lack of shrapnel marks and craters and only minimal damage to internal walls in the available visuals of the aftermath,” the Washington Post reported on August 6. “Instead, there were visible signs of an intense fire, which is at odds with damage caused by the most common HIMARS warhead.”

Seagal, 70, is an American actor known for his decades-long action film career. Russia’s government granted Seagal Russian citizenship in 2016, making him a dual U.S. and Russian citizen. Seagal, who descends from Russian Jews on his father’s side, has demonstrated public support for the Kremlin in recent years. Moscow has responded to Seagal’s support by assigning him honorary roles, including that of “special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in charge of the Russian-US humanitarian ties” in 2018.

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Russia launched its latest war with neighboring Ukraine on February 24. The action occurred three days after the Kremlin announced plans to formally recognize the independence of two Russian-backed separatist states in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region: the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR).

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