Sean Penn, Ben Stiller Permanently Banned From Entering Russia

by Alex Falls

Actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller are among 25 U.S. citizens now banned from visiting Russia, the Kremlin announced Monday. This news comes following both award-winning actors’ advocacy for Ukraine amid the country’s ongoing war with Russia.

Penn traveled to Ukraine earlier this year, where he met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. He was there to film footage for an upcoming documentary about the conflict for an upcoming episode of Vice. Penn issued the following statement after his time in Ukraine.

“Already a brutal mistake of lives taken and hearts broken. And if he doesn’t relent, I believe Mr. Putin will have made a most horrible mistake for all of humankind,” Penn said. “President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people have risen as historic symbols of courage and principle. Ukraine is the tip of the spear for the democratic embrace of dreams. If we allow it to fight alone, our soul as America is lost.”

Stiller took a chance in June to visit Ukrainian refugees in Poland. He also traveled to Kyiv and visited with President Zelensky on World Refugee Day as a representative of the UN Refugee Agency. At the time, Stiller marveled at Zelensky’s unique path that led him from comedic actor to leader of an entire country.

“I was really taken by the resilience of the people of Ukraine, and of the President,” Stiller said. “His incredible sense of how he has risen to the moment and offered his people leadership and true resolve to get through this awful situation.”

Russia Bans More Than Two Dozen Americans From Entering Their Country

In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry prohibited 25 “high-ranking officials, representatives of the business and expert communities, as well as cultural figures” from entering Russia “on a permanent basis.” Also, the move comes in retaliation for President Joe Biden’s recent sanctions against Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted they chose people based on a “principle of reciprocity.” Additionally saying, “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.”

The actors join 23 other United States citizens newly barred from the country. Including Senators Kirsten Cinema, Richard Scott, Patrick Toomey Jr. and Mark Kelly. As well as Deputy Ministers of Trade Matthew S. Alexrod, Don Graves, Thea Kandler and Jeremy Pelter, and Minister of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

“I’m meeting people who have been impacted by the war, and hearing how it’s changed their lives. But war and violence are devastating people all over the world,” Stiller said in a video posted to Instagram. “Nobody chooses to flee their homes. Seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person.”