Nov 8 (Reuters) – Hollywood actor and director Sean Penn, sanctioned by Russia for criticizing its war in Ukraine, lent his Oscar statuette to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a visit to Kyiv on Tuesday.
“It’s just a symbolic, silly thing,” he said, sitting next to the Ukrainian leader at a ceremonial table and pressing his hand to his arm to emphasize his words as those in attendance smiled and laughed. “When you win, take it back to Malibu.”
Zelenskiy presented Penn, who is making a documentary in Ukraine and marks his third wartime visit, with the honor of the Order of Merit for strengthening relations, supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and helping to popularize the country, the president’s office said.
Video showed the pair en route to view a plaque bearing Penn’s signature, dated February 24, the date of the Russian invasion, and placed in the cobblestones of a Zelenskiy “alley of courage” opened in August to honor the friends from Ukraine.
Zelenskiy, a former comedian and actor, later said in his nightly video address that Penn had “done everything to help us garner international support” since he visited the Ukrainian capital on the day of the invasion. .
The walkway, he said, was a sign of gratitude to prominent figures who stand up for freedom with Ukrainians, but also “a reminder to all future generations of our people that different people, forces and industries have stood together. united for our victory”.
Other winners named by Zelenskiy included the presidents of the European Commission, Latvia and Poland, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia and Boris Johnson, the former British prime minister.
Reporting by Elaine Monaghan in Washington, DC; Editing by Lincoln Feast
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