Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank apologized for attending a birthday party for Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader suspected of terror and murder in the southern Russian republic. Human Rights Watch criticized Swank, as well as Jean Claude Van Damme and British violinist Vanessa Mae, for lending their celebrity to the event in Grozny on Oct. 5. “If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone,” Swank said. For her complete statement, click below:
On Wednesday, October 5, Hilary Swank attended the opening of a new residential and commercial complex in Grozny City, including the largest sports complex in southern Russia. There were various guests from all over the world in attendance at that event, including Chechnya’s president. Ms. Swank decided to attend 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. Ms. Swank very much wanted to attend to be a proponent of those things and, most importantly, she wanted be an advocate for peace in Chechnya. When she arrived at the event, its organizers requested that she wish the President a happy birthday, which happened to coincide with the opening. Not wanting to be rude, she obliged. She was unaware, at the time, of the allegations against President Kadyrov that have been made by various human rights groups. She had never met Kadyrov before that evening, and has no personal or professional ties to him.
Ms. Swank commented, “I deeply regret attending this event, which has thrown into question my long and deeply-held commitment to the protection of human rights. I would never intentionally do anything that raised doubts about such commitment. I will continue to donate my time and my financial resources not only to the charities with which I am currently affiliated, but also those dedicated to the preservation of human rights. If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone.”