Hollywood star ‘regrets’ attending party for Chechen leader Kadyrov

Hollywood actress Hilary Swank has said she “deeply regrets” taking part in a glitzy event in Grozny to mark the birthday of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

The two-time Oscar-winning actress said she would give the fee she received for attending the October 5 extravaganza “to various charitable organizations,” the Hollywood Reporter quoted her spokesperson as saying.

Martial arts movie actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, British violinist Vanessa Mae and singer Seal also attended.

“I deeply regret attending this event,” Swank said in a statement. “If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone.”

Kadyrov, accused of presiding over widespread human rights abuses and fostering a cult of personality, said the concert in the Chechen capital was a city day party, not a celebration of his 35th birthday.

Swank acted after human rights groups criticized the celebrities for taking part.

“Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a grim record of abuse,” Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “When stars get paid to turn up to party with him, it trivializes the suffering of countless victims of human rights abuses.”

The group called on the celebrities to return “any money or gift they might have received.”

“Celebrities should do better to avoid legitimizing people like Kadyrov and embarrassing themselves,” Williamson said.

In March, Kadyrov invited former Brazilian football stars to play a friendly match in Grozny against the team led by the Chechen leader. The Brazilian all-stars, including Romario, Dunga and Cafu, were reportedly paid hefty sums to appear.

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