Hilary Swank ‘regrets’ partying with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov
The actor Hilary Swank has reportedly said she “deeply regrets” taking part in a lavish concert for the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, following criticism from human rights groups.
The two-time Oscar winner said she was unaware that Kadyrov had been accused of orchestrating brutal extrajudicial killings and abductions.
Swank, who has built a career playing morally minded characters, joined action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, British violinist Vanessa Mae, and singer Seal to fete Chechnya’s authoritarian leader on 5 October, his 35th birthday.
Despite building a massive personality cult in the mainly Muslim republic, Kadyrov had banned birthday celebrations and fashioned the concert as a city day party instead. After Swank included birthday congratulations in her gushing speech to the feared ruler, the master of ceremonies asked how she knew it was his birthday.
Swank replied: “I read. I do my research.”
Human rights groups criticised the celebrities for attending the event. “Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a litany of horrific human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch said. “It’s inappropriate for stars to get paid to party with him. It bolsters his image and legitimises a brutal leader and his regime.” The group urged the celebrities to return any money or gifts they received.
Actor Eva Mendes and singer Shakira are among those who reportedly declined invitations to appear at the event.
A string of Kadyrov’s critics and political rivals have been murdered in recent years. Kadyrov has consistently denied involvement in any of the killings, saying the accusations are fabricated to blacken his name.
Kadyrov’s rule has reached new levels of eccentricity in recent months. In May, he invited more than a dozen football legends to play a friendly in Grozny’s new stadium, reportedly paying the players huge sums of cash and giving them expensive watches. Grozny, rebuilt after two post-Soviet wars, remains mired in unemployment and poverty.