Russian state TV fires back at Arnold Schwarzenegger for message of ‘truth’ to Russian people

It’s a safe bet that Arnold Schwarzenegger, beloved star of some of the most famous action flicks of the 1980s, won’t be welcome in Russia anytime soon.

It all stems from a recent video the actor and former California governor posted to Twitter and Telegram (a messaging app that is popular in Russia,) in which he spoke directly to the people of Russia in hopes of turning them against the war in Ukraine. The video is professionally done, with Schwarzenegger seated in what is apparently his home office.

He opens the video by speaking of his admiration for the Soviet weightlifter Yuri Petrovich Vlasov, whom he saw compete at the World Weightlifting Championships in Vienna in 1961. Schwarzenegger also mentions getting into an argument with his father over a photograph he had of Vlasov. His father, who fought in the German army during the Siege of Leningrad in 1941, hated the Russians and wanted his son to have a poster of an Austrian or German bodybuilder instead. But Schwarzenegger kept the photograph, and his admiration for Vlasov never dimmed.

He also spoke of his great love for the Russian people, which only deepened during visits to the country to make such films as Red Heat (1988).

The Daily Beast reports that Schwarzenegger’s direct appeal to the Russian people has been surprisingly effective. The Russian media tried to ignore the video for as long as possible—but the millions of views it’s racked up in Russia alone made that difficult. That probably has a lot to do with the actor’s popularity in the country, as well as his decision to post the video to the Telegram app.

Finally, on Sunday, a host on Russian state TV addressed Arnold’s message. On a program called “Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovyov,” TV host Vadim Gigin blasted Schwarzenegger with a colorful string of invectives.

“That face is the cover page of American imperialism and colonialism,” Gigin declared. “Not the caricature image of Uncle Sam, but this Schwarz, in a Hollywood production.”

According to the Beast’s reporting, Gigin wasn’t buying Schwarzenegger’s professions of admiration for the Russian people, either. “He, in California, will tell us, who live here…the truth?! That is their approach towards us.”

On the same program, Gigin had as a guest a well-known Russian writer, Zakhar Prilepin. The author of such novels as “The Abode” and “Sankya,” Prilepin is wanted by Ukraine’s Security Service for “taking part in the activity of a terrorist organization” during the war in Donbas. Prilepin has called Schwarzenegger “a predator and an enemy,” and closed out his appearance on Gigin’s show with a chilling message to the West: “If they’re seriously afraid of the conflict with Russia, of WWIII, of nuclear war or the escalation of the conflict, we should be convincing them that we’re ready for it, that we love it, that we like to make war.”

Schwarzenegger’s video must have touched a nerve to elicit such strong reactions from Russian TV and literary personalities.


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Todd Jaquith


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