At the beginning of the week, I saw that some major news outlets were reporting that Hilary Swank and Jean Claude Can Damme had done a bad, bad thing. They were invited to a public (televised) birthday party for a Chechen leader named Ramzan Kadyrov in Grozny. As it turns out, Kadyrov is a something of an infamous genocidal bastard, and human rights groups were really pissed off that celebrities were flown in to give the dude legitimacy. I didn’t write about it earlier because… it’s Hilary Swank. I didn’t think people would care what she did, and in her (sort of) defense, I think it’s pretty likely she was just offered a million-dollar check and a private plane to come to the event, and she had no idea who this guy was, or why she should have refused. Anyway, she’s apologizing:
Hollywood celebrity Hilary Swank said she “deeply regrets” visiting a concert held on the birthday of the Kremlin-backed Chechen leader, who is accused of torture, abductions and killings by human rights groups.
The two-time Oscar winner said that she was unaware of the disappearances, house torchings and extra-judicial killings reportedly orchestrated by Ramzan Kadyrov in the southern Russian republic.
“I deeply regret attending this event,” Swank said in a written message to The Associated Press. “If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone.”
Swank issued the message after the Human Rights Watch criticized her — along with Belgian actor Jean Claude Van Damme and British violinist Vanessa Mae — for attending a show that, it says, “trivializes the suffering of countless victims of human rights abuses.”
On Kadyrov’s 35th birthday on Oct. 5, his government organized a lavish concert in Chechnya’s provincial capital, Grozny, that has been restored after being flattened during two wars between Chechen separatists and Moscow since 1994.
The celebrities — as well as dozens of Russian politicians and pop stars — showed up to congratulate Kadyrov from a stage arranged between a gigantic mosque and a newly built business center.
During the birthday show, Swank said that she had been taken by the Chechen government’s “passion to make peace and to make something beautiful.” She claimed in her apology that her invitation to the concert made no mention of Kadyrov’s birthday.
Under Kadyrov’s leadership, Chechnya has become relatively quiet, and the insurgent violence has largely migrated to neighboring republics of the volatile Caucasus region. Kadyrov is a former separatist rebel who has boasted of killing his first Russian soldier at age 15. He went over to the federal side at the start of the second Chechen war in 1999. A string of Kadyrov’s critics and political rivals have been brutally murdered in recent years in Russia, Austria and Dubai.
Kadyrov has consistently denied involvement in any of the killings, saying the accusations are fabricated to blacken his name.
[From The Associated Press]
“If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone” = They gave me a lot of money to show up and I didn’t want to ask questions, and I figured no one would notice. I mean… I buy her apology, I buy that she regrets it, and she probably hates whoever talked her into it. BUT! I would like to know how much she was paid to show up at the event, and if she also “deeply regrets” taking the money, or if she plans to return the money.
Here’s some video of Hilary on stage wishing Kadyrov a happy birthday:
Photos courtesy of WENN.
Written by Kaiser
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