Hilary Swank, the Oscar-winning actress who has come in for sharp criticism from human rights groups for attending a party in the Chechen capital Grozny hosted by Ramzan Kadyrov the country's authoritarian leader, says that she 'deeply regrets' attending the celebrations, describing the party as 'pure torture' and Kadyrov as a 'party host with a lot to learn'.
"If I had known then what I know now about Kadyrov's so-called 'parties', I would never have agreed to go. The food was terribly gauche, and there was no alcohol, because apparently they don't drink over there - something to do with religion? And don't get me started on the fashions! I don't know what Human Rights Watch says, but I can tell you they were nothing short of crimes against humanity!" quipped the actress.
Kadyrov is widely accused by rights groups of ordering the extrajudicial killings and abductions of all political opposition, as well as lavish spending on vanity projects while most of the population lives in grinding poverty.
"Well, I can assure you that no one was killed while I was at the party, although I was beginning to wish that someone would abduct me during some of the ghastly song and dance routines!" said Swank with a wink.
Kadyrov's rule has been cemented with a personality cult that rivals that of North Korea's Kim Jong Il. Portraits and statues of the leader are everywhere, and public dissent has been ruthlessly stamped out.
"It's so true! There was a red carpet when we celebrities arrived, but no sooner had we set foot on it than we were shooed away by a terrified-looking man. Well, you can imagine how insulted we were! The wretched man was escorted away by two men in dark suits and sunglasses - never to be seen again! Turns out that the red carpet was only for Rammy! So vain!" recounted Swank with customary good humour.
Human Rights Watch has condemned Swank, as well as action star Jean-Claude Van Damme and violinist Vanessa Mae, for attending the party and has urged the celebrities to return any money and gifts they received.
"Honestly, that party was so bad, I'm more sorry than anyone that I went! I remember setting next to Vanessa during some tedious fireworks and turning to her and saying, 'Ramazan-a-ding-dong should be paying us to sit through this!'. And Vanessa said, 'He is! Six figures!' It was the only bright moment in an otherwise interminable party."