Actors Jean-Claude Van Damme and Hilary Swank have been on the receiving end of a barrage of criticisms following there choice to attend Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s lavish October 5th birthday celebration in exchange for money.
“Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a litany of horrific human rights abuses. It’s inappropriate for stars to get paid to party with him,” said Jane Buchanan, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, a New York based organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. “By attending this kind of event, it really legitimizies and bolsters the image of someone that’s linked to human rights abuses.”
According to a report the group published in 2010, Kadyrov, 35, and his forces were linked to a slew of abductions, tortures and deaths of Chechen insurgents in the rebellious republic.
The foundation also claims that it warned Swank about Kadyrov’s alleged offenses before she attended the event.
Although exact figures have not been published, The Hollywood Reporter estimated that Swank and Van Damme were probably paid six-figure sums for their presences at the lavish bash, which saw a number of skyscrapers illuminated as fireworks were simultaneously set off.
Besides Swank and Van Damme, the Christian Post reports that other celebs such as Shakira, Eva Mendez and Kevin Costner were invited to attend the affair, but turned the organizers down. The Colombian singer, in fact, issued a denial via Twitter days before the event to refute that she was ever booked for it.
Update: EW reports Hilary Swank has issued an apology for attending the event saying:
“I deeply regret attending this event, which has thrown into question my long and deeply-held commitment to the protection of human rights,” Swank said in the statement. “I would never intentionally do anything that raised doubts about such commitment.”
Swank’s full statement can be read here.