Russia names Steven Seagal ‘special representative’ to improve U.S. relations

epaselect epa05647257 Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with US actor Steven Seagal (R) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 25 November 2016. The Russian President handed a Russian passport to Seagal and congratulated him on receiving Russian citizenship. EPA/ALEXEI DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL/POOL

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MOSCOW, Russia

Michigan-born actor Steven Seagal, 66 named “special representative” for improving Russian-U.S. relations, said Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

According to the ministry, the position was created to deepen humanitarian ties, as well as cultural, art and youth ties between the two countries. The ministry announced the move on its Facebook page on Saturday evening, local time.

The announcement gives a nod to 2016, when Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a Russian passport to the American actor, saying that he hoped it could be symbolic of how Moscow’s historically contentious relationship with Washington was beginning to improve.

Seagal was also granted Serbian citizenship in 2016 after several visits to the Balkan country

In addition, Russian officials have been accused of attempting to interfere with the current operations of the Trump administration, which Moscow has repeatedly denied.

“It’s a case of people’s diplomacy intersecting with traditional diplomacy,” the ministry said of the appointment, likening Seagal’s role to that of a U.N. goodwill ambassador. Seagal, who is known for his affinity for martial arts, will receive no salary in his new role.