Russia imposes sanctions on U.S. actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn over Ukraine support

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Russia hit Hollywood stars Ben Stiller and Sean Penn with sanctions on Monday in response to their public criticism of Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

The foreign ministry included the actors on a new list of 25 U.S. citizens – mostly politicians, trade officials and industrial executives – that it was placing under sanctions and banning from entering Russia.

Stiller and Penn have been vocal supporters of Ukraine in the conflict and have met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in high-profile shows of support.

In a televised meeting in Kyiv in June, Stiller, star of “Zoolander”, “Meet the Parents” and “Dodgeball”, told Zelenskiy: “You’re my hero.”

Two-time Oscar winner Penn was in Ukraine recording a documentary when Russia invaded on February 24. He was forced to flee on foot, joining the millions of Ukrainians crossing into Poland in the first days of the war.

He has been a vocal backer of Zelenskiy since, returning to Ukraine in June to meet the Ukrainian leader. Penn also visited Bucha and Irpin near Kyiv, the sites of alleged atrocities against civilians by Russian forces, and Zelenskiy has publicly thanked Penn for his support.

Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” to protect Ukraine’s Russian-speakers from persecution and defuse a Western threat to its security. Kyiv and the West say these are baseless pretexts for a war of aggression.

The sanctions freeze any Russian assets that those on the list have, prohibit Russian citizens from doing business with them, and ban them from travelling to Russia.

The list also included U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, four deputy commerce secretaries and six U.S. senators.

The West has imposed an unprecedented barrage of economic and personal sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow has retaliated with tit-for-tat sanctions on politicians, business leaders and cultural figures who it says are hostile to Russia.

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