Hilary Swank got $1.5 million for attending Chechen dictator’s birthday


A few weeks ago, Hilary Swank was flown into Grozny to attend the 35th birthday party of Chechen despot Ramzan Kadyrov. It was a big event in which Kadyrov sat in a box seat, surrounded by thousands of well-wishers, and various celebrities like Swank and Jean Claude Van Damme went on stage to wish him a happy birthday. Kadyrov has been on every human-rights watch list for years – he is a known homicidal, genocidal douche and puppet of the Russian government, and Swank (and other celebrities) gave him legitimacy by attending his party like he was a legit world leader. Anyway, Hilary later apologized and claimed that she had no idea about any of this, that she didn’t realize she had been invited to this dude’s birthday party. Cue video of her standing on stage, wishing Kadyrov a “happy birthday”.

The Human Rights Foundation claims that Swank was forewarned – by them. They sent a warning to Swank more than a week before the event. The HRF’s spokesperson Sarah Wasserman told The Wrap, “After five days of wall-to-wall criticism, [Swank’s apology] is weak, especially since the Human Rights Foundation sent a warning directly to Swank through her manager on Sept. 26. Her claim of ignorance is laughable. Worse, the video of her birthday wishes shows her boasting about her knowledge of Chechnya and how she ‘reads’ and ‘does her research.’ The more important question now is, what is Swank going to do with the blood money paid from Kadyrov’s coffers? She sidesteps the issue completely.”

But Swank’s spokesperson did issue a statement days later, telling The Wrap that Swank “is donating her personal appearance fees from this event to various charitable organizations.” But until now, the amount Hilary Swank got was still unknown. Radar reports that Swank got the biggest payout of all of the celebrity guests – $1.5 million! However, Swank still claims that she only thought she had been invited to the event to attend “the opening of a residential and commercial complex in Grozny City on October 5.” Her rep says she went to the opening “because the construction project was described to her as a symbol of hope for the people of Chechnya, a region that had been devastated by war. Specifically, she was advised that the project was instrumental in the creation of jobs and other opportunities for the people of Chechnya.” So… Hilary thought she was getting paid $1.5 million to go to the opening of a residential complex? And then she just accidentally put on a ball gown and went to the birthday party? I still don’t understand this argument.

This Hilary Swank-debacle has changed one thing, though – two groups are now going to be offering “free, confidential services” to celebrities, advising them on what events to avoid in the cause of human rights. Celebrities can go to the Global Philanthropy Group or the Human Rights Watch if they think a gig is iffy and they want to know more about it. Or, you know, they could just do five minutes of research…?



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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70 Responses to “Hilary Swank got $1.5 million for attending Chechen dictator’s birthday”

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  1. dorothy says:

    That’s called selling your soul for a buck. I no longer respect this woman as an actor or a human being.

  2. len says:

    O man I hate this woman. First that over the top ‘look at me o so casually eating a hamburger after winning an oscar’ thing. And then that article in Vanity Fair where she mentions her husbands addiction, when there was no need. All just to get attention. And now acting all hypocritical when ofcourse she knew what she had been invited to. She just smelled money. Hell, I would smell it too if it were that much..but I still wouldn’t go.

  3. Auds says:

    I hope she gets audited by the IRS.

  4. Cherry says:

    So, so dumb. If I were Hilary, I’d apologize another 1000x, donate 10 million dollars to charity just to be sure, and crawl under the covers and wait for it to be all over. God, this is shameful.

  5. Lucinda says:

    This is disgusting. I’m glad she’s giving the money away but it was only after a lot of uproar about it. She wouldn’t have given it back if she wasn’t called on it. Kadyrov is truly evil a google of his name could have told you that.

  6. brin says:

    Hope the $1.5 million was worth ruining her reputation.

  7. lisa says:


    imagine what would have been paid to an A-lister.

  8. Elleh says:

    Reader’s Digest condensed version:

    She knew EXACTLY who he was and EXACTLY why she was there. She didn’t care because she wanted the $1.5 million in easy money and figured no one would notice.

    Now she’s backpeddling faster than a politician caught publicly tweeting his crotch shots.

    She’s either a liar, a greedy celebriwhore or an ignorant fool. Or all three. Take your pick.

  9. blc says:

    That is so shameful. I will definitely never watch another Hilary Swank movie again. As if she doesn’t already have enough money. Awful.

  10. Addie says:

    This woman is 2 time oscar winner.
    Did she really need the money that badly?
    I’m sure she can get most roles she goes after.

    Does anyone know if this will affect her career negativley, or does Hollywood not really care about these sorts of issues?

  11. Praise St. Angie! says:

    In today’s age of easy access to information, there is NO EXCUSE for any celeb to wind up at a party for a person like this.

    I don’t blame celebs for taking easy paydays, like an appearance fee for a birthday party, but it’s not so hard to discern which parties to go to.

  12. Tanguerita says:

    I think she is one of the most unpleasant and overrated actresses in Hollywood up to date.

  13. Dudette says:

    It’s interesting that she’s won two Oscars and yet still has very little clout in the industry. Hmmm. So $1.5million to open a residential complex eh? Who does she think she’s kidding? She would be better served if she simply apologised for her wilful ignorance and gave away the entirety of the money, preferably to Human Rights Watch itself. Let’s use his money against him.

  14. Dana says:

    Why would a housing project in a war torn area pay anyone 1.5 mil to attend an opening when the money could be going to the refugees in the said war torn area?!? She knew where she was going and what she was going to do there. It’s not like you can just pick up couture gowns in a ravaged area on the fly.

  15. gee says:

    She is stupid trailer trash. She is dumb as a box of rocks. I’ve never liked her.

  16. Beatrix says:

    seriously – it takes less than a second for google to render all of the information anyone could ever ask for about anything.

  17. tapioca says:

    Ramzan Kadyrov would have to kill over 10% of the entire population of his country to equal the number of civilian deaths in Iraq as a result of the illegal war there. How many celebrities attended events with George W. Bush & Tony Blair during that time?

    You can’t pick and choose your war-criminals!

  18. badrockandroll says:

    There has been fallout for Hilary after she tried to put the cookies back in the cookie jar (and let’s face it, that sham donation to unnamed charities is exactly that): she was invited to be a key note speaker at a cancer cure fundraiser (why I don’t know; perhaps she is a research scientist in her spare time), and she pulled out at the last minute saying she was too ill to attend. Bad PR causes upset tummies I guess …
    Let’s hope that there is proper fallout on all these celebrity appearances for cash nonsense (and yeah, Sting, Beyonce, George Michael and Elton John, I’m looking at you!)

  19. Rhiley says:

    I agree it is hard to respect Hilary Swank after this. To appear at the birthday party for money and then to lie about it is really disappointing. I wish too someone on her team would be more specific about which charities are going to be receiving the money and how much they will be receiving.

  20. TrollyDolly says:

    @tapioca, I see your point but to willingly support a man who has does this to your fellow women is outrageous.http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/09/27/chechnya-choked-headscarves

  21. kay says:

    a humble apology, by her and not her team, may help.

    I really liked the post suggesting she donate the money directly to fighting him.

  22. lucy2 says:

    1 – There is no excuse. It’s too easy to research nowadays, plus she was warned. All those who attend knew what they were getting into.
    2 – All those who were paid need to donate every penny to a charity pronto, and make it known. I’m not usually a fan of celebs publicizing all their donations, but they all need to try to fix this immediately.
    3 – Why would anyone pay $1.5 million for Swank to show up?

  23. Leticia says:

    @Tapioca, if you are consistent then you are also displeased with the current administrations’ assassinations by drone attacks plus military action in Libya.

  24. Kloops says:

    Lost all respect for her.

  25. lisa says:

    I think what she did was wrong.. but wow the comments are really ugly.

    She is not the only celebrity doing this kind of stuff. She got caught lying about it. This is how many celebrities make money. Wrong to me.. but I guess they have to live.

    she has learned a lesson.

  26. CloudSailor says:

    She lied. Blatantly. It’s obvious that her team had worked on that trip for at least a few weeks. She didn’t just buy an air ticket to Grozny! In these areas abductions and other harmful activities against high profile people happen very often! So most probably Kadyrov guaranteed protection to her (private security is not enough in such places). It is practically impossible that her team who worked on organizing this trip didn’t know who Kadyrov is and that he is the host for Swank.
    How did she not learn from Mariah Carey and Beyonce’s case with Gaddafi?? Same BS went down.
    And yes, she should at least name the charities.

  27. aenflex says:

    she’s a bitch anyway. i’m not surprised.

  28. CloudSailor says:

    No no no
    Celebrities make money by acting/singing/dancing or whatever talent they have. Yes, I know many of them do these gigs, for private parties, but this is not just their private business. When a world famous person associates themselves with an event or other public figure, then I as a fan feel that I should support her causes, since I’m a fan. That is why they so keenly appear in charity events to raise their profile. Now If I was her fan I would abandon her for sure. ALso, if charitable deeds raise their profile, it should be just reasonable that an appearance like this one does the opposite.

  29. tapioca says:

    @TrollyDolly: Hilary does not get a pass on this from me, my point is that a Western war criminal is no better than a former Soviet one.

    @Leticia: I’m consistently opposed to celebrities mixing with people with dubious human rights records for cash (and Libya is a civil war, not one man with a personal vendetta obliterating another country on a whim).

  30. Amy says:

    Ugh, why would anyone even want her to speak? I can’t imagine that she’s any more relevant in Chechnya than she is here.

  31. serena says:

    Good Lord..I’m so disappointed in her.
    She should stop playing dumb, it’s ridiculous.
    “because the construction project was described to her as a symbol of hope for the people of Chechnya”. My ass! How can a bloody despot show any kind of symbol of hope?
    How dumb does she think we are?

    Still, seems like she’s the kind of person who will do anything for money. And it’s not like she’s poor, she’s an oscar-winning actress and it’s her choice when to work and for who.
    1.5 million were worth for Chechen despot.

    Good job Hilary, really.

  32. serena says:

    @dorothy: I’m with you 100%.

    I’m against all celebrities who did this kind of things (may it be with Gheddafi or another blood assasin despot), not just Hilary. She’s the news today and she lied and played dumb that’s why.

  33. Redd says:

    No excuse for this one, Hilary Swank! Write a big check for a worthwhile charity and hand it over personally and get your publicist to have reputable media there to document. Shame, shame!

  34. Tazina says:

    She knew all right, in fact was sent information as to this individual, but chose to ignore it and show up anyway, thinking she could get away with pocketing the money for herself. She’s backpedaling now only because she got caught. Wow, thought there was something off about her before but didn’t know what a sneaky liar she is.

  35. lin234 says:

    I’ll believe she donated all 1.5 million to charity when I hear a legitimate charity confirm her donation. Otherwise it may be the charity of “I need a nice vacation this summer”.

  36. *Roxy* says:

    As much as I disapprove of Kadyrov I think it is not blood money. Chechnya is receiving huge dotations (millions of dollars) from Russia. These might be Russian taxpayers’ money.

    • shaz says:

      IT IS blood money. Please google and go to official and reliable sites as human watch or the international criminal court and SEE by yourself THE SCALE OF THE HORROR perpetrated by this BLOODY dictator.

      It is an absolute SHAME that she even accepted a penny from him.

      I’m especially heartbroken (for the people not her)and disgusted that she DARED to say in her speech that

      ” I could feel the spirit of the people, and I could see that everyone was so happy” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^^

      The spirits of people who died under atrocious sufferences maybe, idoubt happiness…

      She doesn’t deserve to be called an artist by any means..an artist stand for morals, dignity,freedom, hope,love,not murder, torture,massacres..

      I personaly had the chance to flee from a dictatorship,so i know what it is and how it feels to live in such a place…

  37. Dibba says:

    Bucky tooth has hit on hard times. Needs money. Kind of like prostituting yourself.

  38. Victoria says:

    @Tapica, you are my hero/shero. And I’d eat you, if I could but I don’t like the beads in Tapioca. I said the same thing when this all first broke out. It amazes me how everyone turns a blind eye to our shady government and their dictatorship domestically an abroad but can be so outraged at others who are at least honest about it, or more honest than we are.

    Let’s get real. Hillary was wrong but I’m not coming at her unless I am willing to come at all of the celebrities who participate in Western political functions for money KNOWING that we do some fucked up shit under the guise of democracy and enlightenment.

    Like I said before, Ghadaffi being in power would be a whole lot better than what is about to go down in Libya. Those “civilians” are extreme fundamentalists who did not like Ghadaffi being in Western pockets and he was no matter what anyone says. Now that they are in power guess what is trying to be restored? Sharia law. That’s right. Let freedom ring.

  39. Violet says:

    Kadyrov is known for routinely violating human rights, and I won’t get into all the atrocites he’s committed over the years. Taking money to celebrate this monster’s birthday was a despicable thing to do.

    But you know what? I’d like to see the others get just as much negative backlash for this — Hilary AND Jean-Claude Van Damme AND Seal should apologize and donate DOUBLE the blood money they got to charity, plus volunteer a mimimum of 40 hours in aid of victims of violent crime.

    Ther’s no excuse for any of these celebs, but I am most disappointed in Seal. For shame.

  40. TG says:

    I am suprised that this Chechnin guy would even want Hilary there let alone pay her $1.5 million. I mean who is she really? What kind of influence or legitimacy could she possibly offer this guy? It is so bizzarre how celebs that we think are a nobody can command so much overseas.

  41. pwal says:

    October 26th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    1 – There is no excuse. It’s too easy to research nowadays, plus she was warned. All those who attend knew what they were getting into.
    2 – All those who were paid need to donate every penny to a charity pronto, and make it known. I’m not usually a fan of celebs publicizing all their donations, but they all need to try to fix this immediately.
    3 – Why would anyone pay $1.5 million for Swank to show up?


    #3 should’ve been an even bigger red flag, IMO. I mean, I understand that in order to be in the business you have to have a healthy ego, but come on! Yes, she’s a two-time Oscar winner, but $1.5M just for saying a couple of words at a party?


  42. Kimbob says:

    I was all over this story when it came out here…and I knew she was lieing the whole time.

    She’s not going to give that 1.5 mil to charity…seriously…no. She just said that to appease everyone. She’s just pissed and acting remorseful that she got caught.

    Trailer trash.

  43. Eleonor says:

    Before all: I don’t believe her, she couldn’t know where she was going, and all her publicist is sayin is bullshit.
    But: she has done what Beyonce and Mariah Carey did before her with Gheddafi,so she is not the first one, and will not be the last one.

  44. Bubulle says:

    Shame on Hilary Swank, she knew all along who this guy was, her manager had been warned by the Human Rights Foundation but couldn’t care less.

  45. Smithy says:

    I’ve always thought that Swank came off as a really intelligent woman, and I think in this case ignorance may actually be to blame — completely unacceptable ignorance that she’s too embarassed to admit to. It’s a shame.

  46. bluhare says:

    @Victoria: Yep, I bet Beyonce is really happy Hilary took her off the front burner. Didn’t Beyonce pocket $1 million for singing at Ghaddafi’s birthday party? She claimed she gave it back. But SHE STILL SANG AT HIS PARTY!!!

  47. mia girl says:

    Dont know which is worse, that she took $1.5M to make an appearance at Kadyrov’s birthday or the claim that she thought she was taking $1.5M to appear at the opening of a residential complex that symbolized hope for poor, war ravaged unemployed people. Seriously how the hell do you take money for something like that???!!!!

  48. JaneWonderfalls says:

    She’s dumb I would have kept that genocide money! All people do is talk scrap she’s damned if she do and damned if she don’t at least she would have been 1.5 million richer. If any of you people really cared about genocide and human rights, you would start out helping your neighbors or the people in and around your community! SMDH Celeb Bitchy is starting to be so uppity and judgmental I use to like this site but I think I’m going to be finding another site in a couple of weeks! Cause you are some evil and hateful bitches!!!

  49. Masque says:

    Maybe Hilary should take a page out of Seal’s book. Then she could have kept the cash.

    “For his part, Seal remains defiant. When criticized, he responded on Twitter: “I am a musician and would appreciate (it) if you leave me out of your politics.” “

  50. Mich says:

    JaneWonderfalls – How do you know the people posting their disgust don’t help out people in their own communities? I think you need a refresher on the definition of ‘judgemental’.

  51. Victoria says:


  52. Victoria says:

    @bluhare you know it. As did Mariah and others. More power to them since they’ve performed for western evildoers too.

  53. jen says:

    October 26th, 2011 at 10:31 am
    she has learned a lesson.

    That’s the problem, she hasn’t. All she’s done is try to cover it up & skew the facts; NOTHING she has or hasn’t done since this was reveal shows she’s learned anything.

    Janewonderfalls – um, what? You’d keep the money because hey, more money, but then condemn everyone else for not having a social conscience (which you don’t actually know anything about?) Are you slow? Seriously, is there something wrong with you? And why wait a couple of weeks? Too much volunteer work to do and donations to make before you can leave?

  54. Violet says:


    Thanks for sharing Seal’s callous response. I have lost a great deal of respect for the man.

    Like I said, I really think he and Jean-Claude Van Damme should be getting the same amount of grief as Hilary. All of them should be deeply ashamed of themselves. Especially Seal, who doesn’t even pretend to give a sh*t that he took blood money from a monster.

  55. CloudSailor says:

    @Victoria, Tapioca

    In a Lybian town some years ago, students who dared to oppose to the Ghaddafi regime were hung on lamp posts, about a meter (3ft) off the ground, on the main street and left there dying for the whole town to see. Then an official came to hold on to their knees and pulled them to finish them off. I’m sorry to be so graphic, but until you witness something of a similar magnitude, please don’t say that Lybians want that guy back. Unless you are one of these people. Perhaps western leaders have done the same somewhere far away from you, but you and your family will not be beaten up when admitted to a local hospital for supporting the opposition. And you are fine with that I guess.
    I think she thought it would go under the radar, but she forgot that egomaniac genocidal dictators love this kind of validation of their personal charm (bought for cash, of course). It was all over the news in Europe, especially because of Van Damme’s “I love u” comment.

  56. Mich says:

    @ CloudSailor

    Wow. That is horrific! I can’t say I’m at all sorry that the man is gone.

    RE Seal, I’ve seen his twitter quote a few times now and find it very disturbing. Weird logic that because you are a musician you get to opt out of being a conscientious human being for the sake of making a buck. I’m sure arms traders feel the same way.

    I’m actually quite glad that this story has gotten so much coverage if for no reason other than that I took the five minutes that Swank didn’t to learn more about what is happening in Chechnya.

  57. LittleDeadGrrl says:

    Blood money it is indeed. I don’t get this level of soulesness. As she was driven to the palace did she see the shit hole the place is because of this asshole and thought well “thanks for the 1.5 million”. Everyone who went that party needs to feel like nothing. Van Damme lost what respect I had for him.

    Hope they all enjoy their blood money

  58. Cheyenne says:

    Either she is so hard up that she is in desperate need of the money, or she is so callous that she simply doesn’t give a shit.

    In the former case she is pitiable, in the latter case she is despicable.

  59. Kloops says:

    I’m disappointed in Seal. That’s disheartening. Don’t think much of Van Damme but that’s gross.

    My thoughts are that you try to do the best you can but I recognize that sometimes errors in judgement are made. However, homicidal dictators usually have a lot evidence against them and it’s pretty quick and easy to do a google search. It’s fairly conclusive and abhorrent to profit from genocide. None of them needed the money.

    I agree with the poster above, it’s not redeeming if she thought she was getting paid $1.5M to open a shopping center in an impoverished region!

  60. Sarah says:

    Annette Bening and I hate this woman.

  61. Jilliterate says:

    Wow, bitch should learn how to use Wikipedia. Claiming ignorance on something like this just reveals what a lazy waste of a human being you are.

  62. original kate says:

    lame. she is overrated, IMO.

  63. Jover says:

    Gee she is dumb as rocks she dropped out of high school at 15; Tapioca the majority of civilians in Iraq were killed by sunni extremists, al queda in Iraq, and Shia militias get your facts straight and take off your cheap political blinders I don’t like bush but American troops killed very few civilians compared to the atrocities of the extremists – selective moral indignation is not admirable;
    Cloudsailor your story is correct and has been reported in the Wall Street Journal, NY times and others – I take my guidance on the mideast from scholars like Fouad Ajami that actually know the place not armchair ideologues stateside
    TO the point this is why no one should take the politics of celebrities seriously or even listen to these hollywood cretins – they all have one overriding interest THEMSELVES. Most everything else is window dressing

  64. Flan says:

    Am more shocked about Seal than Swank.

    Had thought he had more brains than that.

    @Jover: thanks for the info about Fouad Ajami, is always good to get more differing view-points.

  65. sosuzy says:


  66. Jover says:

    Americans are ignorrant get off your moral high horse – 80 per cent of libya’s oil goes to Europe we get about 3 per cent – if you can see past your political blindness ghadafy has killed thousands of libyans including 1200 college students in 1996 Did you protest any of this probably not – selective moral indignation is not very becoming; as poet stephen spender said if you don’t care about children being killed everywhere you don’t care about them being killed anywhere – you only care about atrocities when it can be blamed on the US/the west – when it’s done by despots like Ghadafy you’re silent you don’t really care at all. This isn’t a political forum but when nonsense is posted I respond keep your political opinions to yourself no one’s interested. #66 Fouad Ajami publishes pieces in the Wall street Journal all the time; he’s on CNN with Anderson Cooper regularly he’s a scholar affiliated with John Hopkins and Stanford and I believe of the Shia branch of Islam but he knows his stuff; It’s amazing that a real scholar isn’t as well known as the usual cliched talk show hosts; or is it sad and predictable. If you really want to get beyond this armchair yakking read anything by Bernard Lewis maybe the pre-eminent non-arab Arabist.

  67. Megamind says:

    Ah come on, why do some of you give a shit? She was offered 1.5 million to do it and she did it. Big deal.

    I think she should donate what’s in her heart to any charity she likes and then go blow the rest on hats or something….

  68. I am Legend says:

    I agree with all the bad vibes directed at Swank but I can’t help being amused that Van Damme has for the most part been ignored. I guess he’s just acknowledged as a sell his soul for a buck, past his prime creep who has to whore for dictators at large.

    Don’t think these guys are the only ones though — plenty of singers have taken money for entertaining at private events for similiar type scumbags.