Violinist Vanessa Mae, the singer Seal, and actors Hilary Swank and Jean-Claude Van Damme have been criticised by human rights organisations for taking part in a lavish concert for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on his 35th birthday. Vanessa Mae reportedly received a fee of $500,000 for performing in front of Kadyrov, who has been accused by the human rights foundation Memorial of using torture, causing disappearances and authorising extrajudicial executions since he was appointed president by Vladimir Putin in 2007.

The New York-based Human Rights Foundation said that it sent letters to the celebrities in advance of the concert, outlining Kadyrov's track record on human rights and asking them not to attend. Swank has since expressed regret over her appearance, and said she will donate her fee to charity.