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PUBLISHED: Jul 30, 2014 12:04am

Steven Seagal’s Estonia gig nixed over pro-Russia stance


Source: AFP Source:

Estonia has cancelled Steven Seagal's performance at Tallinn's 'Augustibluus' summer blues festival over the star's backing for Russian President Vladimir Putin's March annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

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TALLINN, July 29, 2014:

Hollywood tough guy Steven Seagal has had his blues gig cancelled at a festival in Estonia following an uproar in this formerly-Soviet ruled Baltic state over the star’s pro-Russia views, the authorities said today.

Seagal is reported to back Russian President Vladimir Putin’s March annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and regards him as a personal friend.

The blues-singing action movie star was booked to perform next month at Tallinn’s “Augustibluus” summer blues festival, but uproar among Estonians forced organisers to pull the plug, the authorities said.

Estonian rock star Tonis Magi, who headlines the festival, went so far as to call for a boycott of the Tallinn event if Seagal was allowed to perform.

“This situation has been solved. The festival organisers have made changes in the programme,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet told AFP, confirming Seagal’s blues gig was cancelled.

“Steven Seagal has tried to actively participate in politics during the past few months and has done it in a way which is unacceptable to the majority of the world that respects democracy and the rule of law,” he added.

“Just like we can’t accept the partial occupation of our neighbouring country, we also can’t accept mindless praise of it,” Paet said, referring to Estonians’ condemnation of Seagal’s reported praise of Putin’s Ukraine policy.

Seagal dubbed Putin “one of the greatest world leaders” in March after Moscow annexed Crimea, according to Britain’s Guardian daily.

He said Putin’s desire “to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the Russian Black Sea military base in Sevastopol … [was] very reasonable,” the Guardian reported.

Estonia was itself occupied by the Soviet Union for half a century prior to 1991 and the wounds inflicted by that totalitarian period remain unhealed.

A Baltic republic of 1.3 million, Estonia broke free from the crumbling USSR in 1991. Along with fellow Baltic states it joined the EU and Nato in 2004 as a bulwark against Russian influence.

Fellow EU Baltic state Latvia banned three Russian entertainers from a glitzy Eurovision-style pop festival this month over their pro-Kremlin stance on the Ukraine crisis.

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“If there are quarters which say there’s restriction on expression of opinions and views, the RoS can provide empirical evidence that the registered organisations are proof that the government gives such freedom. There is freedom of speech and movement; you can be as vociferous as you want so long as you do not threaten public order. Go on and gather as many members as you want so long as you do not touch on sensitive matters and violate the law, including the Sedition Act.”

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi saying the government has never restricted freedom of speech, pointing out that 116,000 organisations were registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS).


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