Hilary Swank says sorry for wishing warlord a happy birthday

Actress apologises for performing for Kadyrov, but fails to say whether she will keep her fee


Hollywood actress Hilary Swank said yesterday she "regrets" attending a party held in honour of Chechnya's leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, but stopped short of agreeing to part with the fee she earned for her appearance. Ms Swank and others have come under fire for attending Mr Kadyrov's birthday celebrations in Grozny last week.

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

She was far less circumspect at the celebration itself, where, after a tour of the city, she announced that she could "see that everyone was so happy" in Chechnya, before offering a sultry "Happy birthday, Mr President" to Mr Kadyrov.

Ms Swank was joined on stage by actor Jean Claude van Damme, who said, "I love you, Mr Kadyrov", and there were performances from the violinist Vanessa Mae and the British singer Seal. All of them are believed to have received substantial fees.

Video footage of Ms Swank gushing over Chechnya's ruthless leader has surfaced on the internet, and cynics will suggest the main reason for the "regret" that Ms Swank is now feeling is that the negative publicity is threatening to damage her reputation as one of Hollywood's more intelligent and discerning stars. Her publicist had been well aware of who Mr Kadyrov is: he was contacted by a human rights group five days before the event, to ask if his client was attending, and to detail the nature of Mr Kadyrov's rule. He replied, denying Ms Swank would attend.

"All the way up to the concert, rights groups were warning these celebrities and their publicists about what kind of regime this is," said Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch yesterday. "We told them about the torture, the abuses and the extrajudicial executions perpetrated by Mr Kadyrov's security forces." There is a whole litany of similar allegations against Mr Kadyrov, who denies them all.

Ms Lokshina said she welcomed Ms Swank's statement and was aiting to see whether the actress would either return the money she earned to Chechen authorities or donate it to a good cause. She said that she hoped the scandal will act as a warning to other stars.

But the British singer Seal tried to take the moral high ground with those on Twitter who alerted him to the unsavoury regime. "By going there, I played MUSIC for the Chechenyan [sic] people," wrote the singer on Twitter, apparently unaware that the only people at the concert were Mr Kadyrov's inner circle and high-ranking officials and dignitaries. "I'm a MUSICIAN and would appreciate if you leave me out of your politics." He accused another critic of being a "hypocrite", writing: "You sit there under your umbrella of democracy and never once stop to think how it keeps you dry."

It was not immediately clear how this justified the singer banking a cheque for his performance for Mr Kadyrov.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas