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Vanessa-Mae shamed for playing for Chechen president

Features - Classical Music | Opera

Vanessa-Mae shamed for playing for Chechen president

by Melissa Lesnie on October 19, 2011 (October 19, 2011) filed under Classical Music | Opera | Comment Now
The violinist has been criticised by human rights groups for performing at Kadyrov's birthday gala.

Vanessa-Mae has come under fire for her part in the 35th birthday celebrations of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of human rights abuses including sanctioning torture and extrajudicial executions.

Several celebrity entertainers and Hollywood heavyweights were invited to the lavish Kremlin-funded event in the city of Grozny, with Vanessa-Mae paid a reported US$500,000 to take the stage. The disgraced former wet T-shirt pinup performed excerpts from Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

American actress Hilary Swank has apologised publicly for wishing Kadyrov a happy birthday onstage and has vowed to donate her fee to charity. The singer Seal and actor Jean-Claude Van Damme have also faced the outrage of human rights activists for their involvement. 

Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, stated that Vanessa-Mae, "born under the regime of Singapore, should be particularly sensitive to human rights concerns."

The New York-based organisation sent letters to the celebrities in advance of the concert, explaining the human rights violations in Chechnya and asking them not to attend.