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Posted at 08:23 AM ET, 10/13/2011

Hilary Swank expresses deep regret about Chechen event


Hilary Swank at the birthday party and concert in the new "Grozny City" residential and commercial complex. (Musa Sadulayev - AP)

Hilary Swank has released a statement in the wake of criticism about her attendance of a birthday celebration for controversial Chechen Republic President Ramzan Kadyrov.

The Oscar winner’s rep e-mailed a lengthy explanation and comments from Swank that explained her reasons for showing up at the event alongside other celebrities like Jean Claude Van Damme. The statement says the actress attended primarily to celebrate the opening of a new residential and commercial complex in Grozny City, and that she wished the Chechen Republic president — who has faced allegations of torturing and causing the disappearances of numerous individuals — a happy birthday upon request.

“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.”

The statement did not address claims by the Human Rights Foundation that a letter was sent to Swank prior to the event in an attempt to explain concerns about Kadyrov’s track record of human rights abuses.

Read the full explanation and statement from Swank after the jump.

“On Wednesday, October 5th, 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.’”

By  |  08:23 AM ET, 10/13/2011

Categories:  Political Statement, Celebrities

 
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