By Jeff Labrecque
Updated December 07, 2011 at 07:04 PM EST
Credit: Musa Sadulayev/AP Images

Hilary Swank has already paid a public price for appearing at a Chechen gala — for a fee — that ended up celebrating the birthday of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-back president who’s been suspected of human-rights violations. She subsequently parted ways with her management and publicity teams after her appearance became public, and Swank offered a public mea culpa on The Tonight Show. But she has a big movie coming out Dec. 9, the star-studded romantic-comedy, New Year’s Eve, and the questions aren’t going away anytime soon.

In the most recent issue of Gotham magazine, Swank opted to tell her side of the story to actress and guest-journalist Mariska Hargitay.

MARISKA HARGITAY: I want to ask you about something more serious concerning your travels. Much has been said about your recent trip to Chechnya. Can you share what happened?

HILARY SWANK: Invitations to make appearances come up all the time. In this case, a Turkish real estate company invited me to help promote peace by celebrating the rebuilding of a war-torn city and meeting people who were rebuilding their lives. That’s how it was presented to me, and I thought, Absolutely, yes. When I was there, I was asked to wish the president a happy birthday, and I did. Shame on me for not having researched the trip more fully, but I didn’t know President Kadyrov’s record. Human rights organizations had tried to warn me, but those warnings weren’t shared with me. The things that have been written about me in the press are totally contradictory to who I am. It’s on me for having gone, and I regret it. Believe me, I’m never again accepting an invitation before I have all the information I need.

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