Belarus leader forces Hollywood's Seagal to eat his carrot

Minsk (AFP) - Green-fingered Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko forced US action star Steven Seagal to eat one of his homegrown carrots in an awkward encounter that prompted much mockery on Thursday in the ex-Soviet state.

Footage posted by the presidential press service showed the authoritarian leader picking up a long carrot, quickly peeling it and handing it to the black-clad martial arts star who was visiting his country residence.

"Here you are: eat it for your health, it's very good for you," said Lukashenko, wearing a tracksuit top and baseball cap, as Seagal chewed politely.

Lukashenko, a former collective farm manager, has ruled ex-Soviet Belarus since 1994 and was once called "Europe's last dictator" by Washington.

He enjoys showing off his farming skills and last year persuaded French actor Gerard Depardieu -- now a Russian citizen -- to scythe grass with him.

The images prompted much online merriment in Belarus. "Today the whole of Twitter is made up of three parts: Lukashenko, Seagal and the carrot," the Daily Minsk tweeted.

Seagal was in Belarus for talks with games developer Wargaming, famed for its World of Tanks video game.

Seagal's fame peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s with films such as "Under Siege" and "Above the Law", but he remains hugely popular in eastern Europe and was granted Serbian citizenship in January.

Like Depardieu, he has previously hung out with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a fellow martial arts fan, and muscle-bound pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

After Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, Seagal called Putin "one of the great living world leaders" and even performed with his blues band in the annexed Black Sea peninsula.

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