Russia bans Sean Penn, Ben Stiller in latest sanctions row

Sean Penn was famously in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv at the start of Russia’s invasion, as he was filming a documentary about the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

SEAN PENN in ‘The First’ (photo credit: Courtesy)
SEAN PENN in ‘The First’
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, who have been prominent voices against the Russia-Ukraine War, are among the 25 US citizens Russia banned “on a permanent basis” on Monday, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Members of Congress and government officials, as well as several business executives, comprised the rest of the list, which included Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Kristen Cinema (D-AZ), Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and others linked to the Department of Commerce, NGOs or firms.

Many US officials or other interests linked to sanctions against Russia have been banned by the Kremlin in recent months, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The list of Americans banned from Russia now has 1,073 US citizens, though not all are linked to the latest tensions between Russia and the US.

“The hostile actions of the American authorities, which continue to follow a Russophobic course, destroying bilateral ties and escalating confrontation between Russia and the United States, will continue to be resolutely rebuffed,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony opening the international military-technical forum Army-2022 at Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre in the Moscow region, Russia August 15, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS MAXIM SHEMETOV)Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony opening the international military-technical forum Army-2022 at Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre in the Moscow region, Russia August 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS MAXIM SHEMETOV)

Why are actors being banned?

Penn was famously in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv at the start of Russia’s invasion, filming a documentary about the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine. After leaving shortly after the invasion, Penn returned to Kyiv in late June to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky again.

“[Penn] came to Kyiv to record all the events that are currently happening in Ukraine and to tell the world the truth about Russia’s invasion of our country… Our country is grateful to him for such a show of courage and honesty,” the Office of the President of Ukraine said in a statement regarding Penn’s June visit.

Stiller also traveled to Ukraine in June, meeting with Zelensky in Kyiv in his capacity as a UN goodwill ambassador.

“Seeking safety is a right, and it needs to be upheld for every person,” he said in a video message recorded in Ukraine.