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“This is an illegal war,” said Schwarzenegger in a rousing nine-minute video posted Thursday that has already been viewed almost 22 million times on Twitter. “Your lives, your limbs, your futures are being sacrificed for a senseless war condemned by the entire world.”

Subtitled in Russian, the video has also been posted on YouTube and Instagram, which are currently blocked in Russia, but also on the Telegram messaging app that can still be accessed.

The former world bodybuilding champion spoke of his “affection and respect for the people of Russia” — with whom he is very popular through a long association with the country. But he warned that “there are things going on in the world that have been kept from you, terrible things that you should know about.”

A great Russian inspiration

Schwarzenegger also spoke of how as a young bodybuilder he was inspired by a Russian: world weightlifting championship, Yury Petrovich Vlasov, who he met as a 14-year-old boy in Vienna.

“I went home and put his photo above my bed,” Schwarzenegger recalled. “It inspired me when I started lifting weights, but it angered my father. He didn’t like Russians, because of his experience in the Second World War.”

Having fought for the Nazi army during the failed Siege of Leningrad (current day Saint Petersburg), Schwarzenegger’s father believed German propaganda about the Russians, although the Germans “did vicious harm to that great city and to its brave people.”

But the young teenager refused his father’s order to take down Petrovich’s picture. “It didn’t matter to me what flag he carried,” he said.

‘Spread the truth’

Warning Russian troops currently fighting in Ukraine for a lie — they have been sent to “de-Nazify” a country with a Jewish president, whose three uncles were murdered in the Holocaust — Schwarzenegger said his father was “broken physically and mentally” when he returned from fighting in Leningrad.

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As the video shows bombed-out streets in Ukraine and the shelling of civilians, the former governor of California called on the Russian people to “spread the truth,” so that fellow citizens “know the human catastrophe that is happening in Ukraine.”

He also appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin — the “Terminator” star is one of only 22 people the leader’s official account follows on Twitter: “You started this war. You’re leading this war. You can stop this war now.”

Schwarzenegger also made special mention of Russians protesting the war in the face of police brutality and arrests.

“The world has seen your bravery,” he said. “You are my new heroes. You have the strength of Yury Petrovich Vlasov. You have the true heart of Russia.”

“This came from Arnold’s heart, not the government,” said Schwarzenegger spokesman, Daniel Ketchel, when quizzed by the New York Times about the motivation for the post.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to the address in a Tweet also pitched to Russian citizens.

“As @Schwarzenegger explains,” Blinken wrote, “we do not blame the people of Russia, and we need you to know what your government is hiding from you.”

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  • ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    Conan the Barbarian (1982)

    “Conan” was the movie that turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into an international film star. He played a slave who had to navigate various adventures after his liberation. His incredible strength helped him overcome all the hurdles that came his way. In many scenes, the fantasy film shot in Spain did without dialogue – and used expressive music instead.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, 1984 (picture-alliance/United Archives/IFTN)

    ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    The Terminator (1984)

    “Arnie” had even fewer lines in “The Terminator.” Throughout the entire movie, the killing machine from the future spoke a total of only 70 words. However, his short sentence “I’ll be back” became one of the most famous quotes in film history. The low-budget production with director James Cameron (“Titanic”) quickly achieved cult status and became a milestone in the history of action films.

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  • Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins (imago)

    ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    Twins (1988)

    Schwarzenegger didn’t limit himself to action. He shifted genres in 1988 to star in the hit comedy “Twins” opposite Danny DeVito (left). The film was a box office success and the bodybuilder from Austria became one of Hollywood’s highest-paid stars in the late 1980s.

  • Film still from Terminator 2 Judgement Day with Edward Furlong and Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1991 (Imago/EntertainmentPictures)

    ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    The Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

    James Cameron’s “T2” was the first Hollywood production to cost more than $100 million – and it grossed five times the amount of its production budget. This time, the Terminator is programmed to save humanity. He manages to do that – until the next challenge from the future strikes. The most memorable line from the film was: “Hasta la vista, baby.”

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies, 1994 (picture alliance/United Archives)

    ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    True Lies (1994)

    After so much success with both action films and comedies, what could come next? An action-comedy, of course. “True Lies” was Schwarzenegger’s third collaboration with director James Cameron. Here, he plays a counter-terrorism special agent who keeps his job secret from his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) – at least as long as he can. Critics and fans alike enjoyed the comedy.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman in Batman and Robin, 1997 (picture-alliance/dpa)

    ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    Batman and Robin (1997)

    Critics and fans weren’t quite as impressed with “Arnie’s” performance as the villain Mr. Freeze in “Batman and Robin” in 1997 (pictured with Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy). He was nominated for a Golden Raspberry, but didn’t win the award for the worst performance. Nevertheless, the film by Tim Burton bombed and Hollywood distanced itself from Batman for a while.

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  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines, 2012 (picture-alliance/dpa)

    ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    The Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2012)

    Following a few more flops, Schwarzenegger became the Terminator once again, bringing his heavy Austrian accent to the now cult role. Schwarzenegger claims that he kept up his accent on purpose in order to please his fans. After “T3,” he retired from the film world for a while to serve as the governor of California for two terms from 2003 to 2011.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator: Genisys, 2015 (picture-alliance/dpa/M. S. Gordon/2015 Paramount Pictures)

    ‘I’ll be back’: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles

    Terminator: Genisys (2015)

    Three Terminator films weren’t quite enough, so a fourth was made in 2015. However, the character had changed a bit over the years and stopped taking himself so seriously. Here, T-800 played by Schwarzenegger at age 67, is even allowed to have a few gray hairs – but still manages to rescue heroine Sarah Connor and the rest of humanity from imminent downfall.

    Author: Katharina Abel (ad)


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    Edited by: Elizabeth Grenier

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