Pro-Russia Seagal's Estonia gig canned

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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 on Tuesday.

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, said the authorities.

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.

Confirming Seagal's gig was cancelled, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said: "This situation has been solved. The festival organisers have made changes in the programme. Seagal has tried to actively participate in politics ... and has done it in a way which is unacceptable to the majority of the world that respects democracy and the rule of law.

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

Seagal dubbed Mr Putin "one of the greatest world leaders" in March after Moscow annexed Crimea, according to Britain's Guardian broadsheet daily. He said Mr 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 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 European Union and Nato in 2004 as a bulwark against Russian influence.

 
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