London: Actors Hilary Swank and Jean-claude Van Damme have come under fire from human rights groups for attending the birthday celebrations of Chechnya’s controversial President Ramzan Kadyrov.
The politician, who turned 35 on October 5, closed off central Grozny – the country’s capital – to host a lavish bash which saw a number of skyscrapers illuminated as fireworks were simultaneously set off, Contactmusic reported. He also invited Oscar-winner Swank and action man Van Damme to watch violinist Vanessa Mae perform as part of his birthday party, and both wished him many happy returns.
However, the stars’ attendance has infuriated activists who accuse Kadyrov of acts of brutality and torture against his own people.
“Ramzan Kadyrov is linked to a litany of horrific human rights abuses. It’s inappropriate for stars to get paid to party with him. It bolsters his image and legitimises a brutal leader and his regime. And getting paid to be part of such a lavish show in Chechnya trivialises the suffering of countless victims of human rights abuses there,” a spokesperson for the Human Rights Watch organisation said. (PTI)