A highly controversial figure sometimes referred to as a dictator, Maduro's legitimacy as Venezuela's leader has been in dispute since 2019
Steven Seagal, Nicolas Maduro
Steven Seagal (left), Nicolas Maduro
| Credit: Miraflores Press Office/AP/Shutterstock

Steven Seagal, best known for roles in '80s and '90s films such as Under Siege and Hard to Kill, seemingly paid homage to the action heroes of his past with an unusual gift in an unusual place: delivering a samurai sword to the disputed Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro.

Reuters reports that the 69-year-old actor was visiting Venezuela as a representative of Russia and could be seen giving Maduro the sword in state television images aired on Tuesday evening.

In a photo from the exchange, Maduro can be seen wearing a face mask, while Seagal is not.

A listed rep for Seagal did not respond to PEOPLE's request for additional information or comment on the trip.

A highly controversial figure sometimes referred to as a dictator, Maduro's legitimacy as Venezuela's leader has been in dispute since 2019, following a presidential election that came amidst a time of political repression, financial mismanagement and corruption.

More than 50 countries (including the United States) do not recognize Maduro as the country's president.

According to the State Department, the United States instead recognizes interim President Juan Guaido and considers the Venezuelan National Assembly, which Guaido currently leads, to be "the only legitimate federal institution."

This is not Seagal's first visit with a polarizing political figure. He met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.

Duterte has presided over a deadly crackdown on narcotics in his country in recent years, and publicly ordered customs officials to shoot and kill drug smugglers.

Seagal also has an unorthodox relationship with Russia, having been granted citizenship there by President Vladimir Putin in 2016. He was later tasked with improving ties between Moscow and Washington.

Putin and Seagal reportedly bonded over their shared passion for the martial arts, according to NPR, which reported in 2016 that Seagal (an expert in aikido) and Putin (an expert in judo) have appeared together at martial arts demonstrations and events.

While the actor made a name for himself in high-action films, others have called into question his talent when it comes to fighting.

In an appearance on Howard Stern's radio show in 2020, Charlize Theron questioned whether Seagal truly had the prowess to earn his purported black belt in martial arts.

"At night I'll go online to watch fighters or watch people fight and you always come across that odd Seagal video of him 'fighting' in Japan, but he really isn't," Theron, 45, said.

She continued: "He's just incredibly overweight and pushing people. He's overweight and can barely fight … look it up, it's ridiculous. He's shoving people by the face. It's a whole setup."

Theron added that she had no problem criticizing the actor because "he's not very nice to women."

In recent years, the actor has been accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct by several women, including Portia de RossiJulianna MarguliesJenny McCarthy and Inside Edition correspondent Lisa Guerrero.

In 2018, Seagal was accused of rape by an extra who appeared in his 1994 film On Deadly Ground, who told The Wrap that she was 18 at the time of the alleged incident, which she claimed happened after the actor invited her to a wrap party at his home in Beverly Hills, California, 1993.

Seagal has denied the accusations against him.