Updated at 14:52,24-02-2021

Steven Seagal continues tour of post-Soviet leaders in name of world peace

Shaun Walker in Bishkek, The Guardian

Actor and friend of Vladimir Putin met Kyrgyzstan president and opened World Nomad Games clad in medieval armour and on horseback

The Hollywood actor, who in recent months has been given the red-carpet treatment by various post-Soviet leaders, said on a visit to Kyrgyzstan he wanted “to bring all people together, to live in harmony”.

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Last month, Seagal met with Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus and regarded as “Europe’s last dictator”. Lukashenko fed the actor a carrot, and the pair discussed the weather and the harvest.

Seagal has formed a warm friendship with Vladimir Putin and even been given a rare invitation to the Russian president’s residence. He has also paid a visit to Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed ruler of Chechnya who is accused of widespread human rights abuses.

Seagal is currently in Kyrgyzstan, where he opened the World Nomad Games by trotting across the stadium clad in medieval armour atop a horse. He also met with Kyrgyzstan’s president, Almazbek Atambayev, who has been accused by critics of possessing an increasingly authoritarian streak.

“You guys are lucky because you have in my opinion a great president,” Seagal told local journalists in Bishkek on Monday, ahead of playing guitar at a charity dinner at which tickets sold for $1,000 per head. “He treated me not as a distinguished guest but more like a friend. We discussed a lot of very important matters. Personal matters, philosophical matters, spiritual matters.”

Steven Seagal continues tour of post-Soviet leaders in name of world peace

Steven Seagal and people in traditional dress at a specially built village, Kyrchin, at the Nomad Games. Photograph: Tass/Barcroft Images

Asked by the Guardian why he had embarked on this unusual tour of meetings with post-Soviet leaders, Seagal said he believed Putin, Lukashenko and Atambayev to be great men.

“You don’t have to be a great man or a good man or an ethical man to be the president of a country, but the fact of the matter is in my humble opinion these presidents that God has blessed me with the honour to know are all really, really great men,” the actor said.

“Along with the blessings that God has given me to know these great people, it is my deepest desire to transcend any kind of politics, particularly those that are divisive and manipulative and untrue.” He criticised western media for their coverage of the region, saying western countries “are jockeying to say things that are not true”.

Seagal also said he planned to shoot films in Kyrgyzstan in the future, and was looking for “tough men, fighters, people who can do stunts on horses and beautiful women” to star in them. The actor said it was “probably – not for sure – but probably my first time in Kyrgyzstan”. He was given a hero’s welcome in the central Asian nation, and his press conference ended with applause, followed by journalists gathering with the actor for a group photograph.