A human rights group on Friday accused pop singer Jennifer Lopez of receiving more than $10 million for “serenading crooks and dictators” from Russia and a number of former Soviet republics.
“J.Lo has repeatedly mingled with and entertained some of the world’s worst thugs and their cronies,” said Human Rights Foundation president Thor Halvorssen in a statement to the press. “The ‘Jenny-from-the-block-who-doesn’t-Google’ clarification may be credible in one instance, but it beggars belief in light of a pattern of repeated behavior.”
A representative for Lopez could not be immediately be reached for comment.
Lopez first stirred up rights activists with a recent performance at the birthday celebration for Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who is accused by the Human Right Foundation of running one of the most repressive governments in the world in his Central Asian nation. Lopez’s publicist Mark Young responded to press reports after the singer’s performance, saying “had there been knowledge of human rights issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended.”
“What those covering this story have missed is that J.Lo and her management have misled her fans and the public,” Halvorssen alleged Friday.
Human Rights Foundation says that its research shows that in July 2011, Lopez was paid $1 million by Uzbek industrialist Azam Aslamov to perform at the wedding of his son. One of the guests at the wedding was Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov. Earlier, Lopez was paid $1.4 million to perform at the birthday celebration in Moscow of allegedly corrupt Russian businessman Telman Ismailov, according to Halvorssen.
In September 2012, according to HRF, Lopez was booked by the dictatorship of Azerbaijan to perform at a FIFA soccer tournament for a reported $2.5 million. While in the capital city of Baku, the foundation alleges, Lopez’s representatives met with the dictator’s wife and began negotiating a contract to put together a music festival in Azerbaijan in partnership with Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency. The event was initially planned for September 2013 but has been rescheduled to 2014.
No comment from CAA was immediately available.
In October 2012, Lopez traveled to Belarus, the only remaining dictatorship in Europe, where she performed a leg of her world tour. Details of her stay in the capitol of Minsk and her engagements are not public record, and the Lopez team has not responded to requests for comment on the matter. In November 2012, Lopez again traveled to Russia, where she was scheduled to sing happy birthday to Alexander Yolkin, a Russian bureaucrat accused of corruption. Yolkin was arrested the day before Lopez’s performance at his birthday party. Russian media claim that the reported $2 million paid to Lopez was the product of kickbacks and bribery. It is not known whether Lopez returned the fee for canceled performance, according to HRF.
The Human Rights Foundation also questioned earlier assertions by Lopez’ spokesmen that her performance in Turkmenistan for the dictator and his family was a “last minute request,” and that the event “was not a government sponsored event or political in nature.” The rights organization alleges that the Lopez camp’s claim is contradicted by both coverage of the event in Turkmenistan itself and the fact that the event’s $2.5 million finance cost was covered in advance by a Chinese company, the China National Petroleum Corporation.
The United States maintains diplomatic relations with all the countries involved. China is one of America’s largest trading partners and Uzbekistan has played a critical role in staging coalition military operations in Afghanistan.
Human Rights Foundation, which has called for Lopez to return the money she was paid to appear in Turkmenistan, also has denounced a visit to Chechnya by Hilary Swank and a concert by Julio Iglesias in Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s most repressive countries.