WATCH: Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov hosted an extragavant party on October 5, attended by entertainers Jean-Claude Van Damme, Hilary Swank, and Vanessa-Mae. (Reuters video)
A leading human rights group has called on several celebrities who attended a gala in Grozny last week to return money and gifts they received from Chechnya's Moscow-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Hollywood stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Hilary Swank, as well as British violinist Vanessa-Mae, all participated in the festivities, which were officially decreed to be held for the restoration of Grozny.
However, it was widely believed that the gala was a pretext to celebrate Kadyrov's 35th birthday, also on October 5.
Local media said that celebrities were handsomely paid for attending the celebrations.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement today that Kadyrov "is linked to a grim record of abuse," adding that stars who get paid to attend his party "trivialize the suffering of countless victims of human rights abuses."
Human rights activists accuse Kadyrov of running a personal militia that carries out rampant rights abuses, torture, and even murder.