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Hollywood Stars Help Chechen Leader Celebrate Birthday


WATCH: Chechnya's Ramzan Kadyrov pulls out all the stops in celebrating his birthday in Grozny. (Reuters video)

A number of Hollywood film stars have attended celebrations in honor of the 35th birthday of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Russia's North Caucasus republic of Chechnya.

Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank and action-movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme were among the Hollywood notables who attended the party on October 5 in the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Noted violinist Vanessa-Mae also performed at the gala, which included Kadyrov taking part in folk dances on stage.

Swank appeared on stage to thank Kadyrov for the invitation to visit the formerly war-wracked Chechen capital.

"This is my first time in Grozny," she said. "I love to travel. I love to see the world. I love to see different cultures. So really, truly, for me, this is a great honor to learn more about you and your country and what you're building."

Russian movie stars, celebrities, and politicians also attended the celebrations, which ended with fireworks over downtown Grozny.

No clear details were available on how much money the stars may have received in exchange for attending the party.

Kadyrov has come under heavy criticism from rights groups for alleged abuses and corruption under his regime, but he has repeatedly denied any involvement in abductions or torture.

compiled from agency reports

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