October 5th marked the 35th birthday of Chechnya's president, Ramzan Kadyrov, who was installed into office at age 30, three years after his father's assassination. Ramzan wanted celebrities at his party, and what Ramzan wants, Ramzan gets. So Hilary Swank, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Seal collected their checks, hopped a flight to Grozny, and got cozy with Ramzy!
Which would all be delightful and a great use of their time and resources—except for the fact that Kadyrov has been implicated in the kidnapping, torture and murder of scores of Chechen countrymen considered enemies to his regime, whose names were placed on a 300-person "Murder List." In a 2006 briefing, Human Rights Watch called the actions of Kadyrov's regime to be so brutal as to constitute "crimes against humanity."
Human Rights Watch released a statement on last Wednesday's event, in which they say they had warned Swank about Kadryov's activities, and she had initially told them she had declined the invitation. (Other invitees, like Shakira, Eva Mendes and Kevin Costner, had also declined.) But then Swank had a change of heart.
"We must remember the disgrace Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado, Beyoncé and 50 Cent were exposed to after singing for the Gadhafi family and earning millions of dollars for it," said Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation.
"Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a litany of horrific human rights abuses. It's inappropriate for stars to get paid to party with him," reads the statement. "[It's] disheartening and shameful."