Hilary Swank Donating Fees From Chechen Leader's Birthday Party to Charity
First she apologized; now her publicists say she is donating the money.
In response to a query from The Hollywood Reporter, Hilary Swank's rep says the Oscar-winning actress will give fees that she received for attending a controversial celebration in Chechnya "to various charitable organizations."
Swank has drawn criticism for attending the Oct. 5 government-organized 35th birthday bash for Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who according to human rights groups has been linked to torture, abductions and killings.
Earlier Thursday, Swank said she had not been aware of the accusations against Kadyrov. "I deeply regret attending this event," Swank said in a statement."If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone."
Swank issued the message after the Human Rights Watch and other groups criticized her -- along with actor Jean Claude Van Damme, singer Seal and British violinist Vanessa Mae -- for attending the show. All the performers were paid to appear at the event.
Soon after Swank made her apology, the Human Rights Foundation questioned her intentions with respect to the money she had received.
“After five days of wall-to-wall criticism, this is weak, especially given that the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a warning directly to Swank through her manager on Sept. 26 -- a full 10 days before the party,” HRF’s Sarah Wasserman said in a statement. “We offered to brief her, but her manager cut us short and responded that Hilary had no plans to attend. ... Worse, the video of her birthday wishes shows her boasting about her knowledge of Chechnya and how she ‘reads’ and ‘does her research.’ The more important question now is what is Swank going to do with the blood money paid from Kadyrov’s coffers? She sidesteps the issue completely.”
The celebrities -- as well as dozens of Russian politicians and pop stars -- showed up to congratulate Kadyrov from a stage arranged between a gigantic mosque and a newly built business center.
During the birthday show, Swank said that she had been taken by the Chechen government's "passion to make peace and to make something beautiful." She claimed in her apology that her invitation to the concert made no mention of Kadyrov's birthday.
Kadyrov has consistently denied wrongdoing, saying accusations against him were fabricated.
Swank won Oscars for her roles in Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby. Her screen credits also include Freedom Writers, P.S. I Love You and Amelia.
Kimberly Nordyke and the Associated Press contributed to this report.