Jennifer Lopez, the performer
who reportedly accepted $1.5 million to
sing for Turkmenistan's autocratic leader
June 29, has a track record of performing
for "crooks and dictators," according to
the Human Rights Foundation.
The organization released information
Friday undermining Lopez's claim that her
recent trip, organized by the China
National Petroleum Corp., was a one-time
accident, Human Rights Foundation
president Thor Halvorssen told U.S. News.
"There's no way they didn't know after
repeatedly receiving millions of dollars
from dictatorships or friends of dictators,"
he said, scoffing at Lopez's "mealy
mouthed non-apology" for the
Turmenistan's president, Gurbanguly
Berdimuhamedov, took office in 2006 after
the death of "president for life"
Saparmurat Niyazov, the country's first
post-Soviet leader. He was re-elected
with more than 97 percent of the vote in a
2012 election widely considered a sham.
[READ: The Dangers of Neglecting Central
After Lopez's trip to Turkmenistan
attracted media attention, her publicist
Mark Young released a statement saying,
"Had there been knowledge of human
rights issues of any kind, Jennifer would
not have attended." The singer did not
publicly commit to donating the money to
The gigs noted Friday by the rights group
included some paid for by post-Soviet
businessmen, often referred to as
oligarchs, including the Uzbek businessman
Azam Aslamov, who paid her $1
million according to New Zealand
entertainment publication The Edge, and
the Russian Telman Ismailov,
who according to the European Union
Times paid $1.4 for a birthday
performance in 2009. Russian bureaucrat
Alexander Yolkin, arrested a day before
Lopez's planned November 2012
appearance for his birthday, paid her $2
million, according to the Russian news
The Human Rights Foundation also alleged
that Lopez representatives negotiated a
$2.5 million fee for a September 2012
performance in Azerbaijan, which is ruled
by a pro-western autocrat. Another deal is
allegedly being negotiated with the wife
of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.
Lopez's fee for the 2012 event was not
Aliyev assumed office in 2003 upon the
death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, the
country's first post-Soviet leader. Aliyev
won 90 percent of the vote in 2008,
AFP reported , amid a boycott by opposition
parties that alleged the vote was fixed.
[READ: The (Mostly) Sober History of
Young, Lopez's spokesperson, declined to
comment when reached by U.S. News on
The rights group said it still doesn't know
how much Lopez earned from an October
2012 concert in Belarus, a country
commonly dubbed the "last dictatorship in
"The likelihood that J.Lo will forfeit some
of this dictatorship or cronyship cash is
entirely dependent on the reaction of her
fan base and her critics," Halvorssen said.
"She certainly doesn't need the money."
Jamie Hancock, media relations
coordinator for the Human Rights
Foundation, told U.S. News the group is
"more than happy to put together a list if
she needs help" deciding where to donate
the money. Ideally, she said, the money
would assist people affected by the
leaders who paid Lopez.
"What those covering this story have
missed is that J.Lo and her management
have misled her fans and the public,"
Halvorssen said in a Friday press release.
"J.Lo has repeatedly mingled with and
entertained some of the world's worst
thugs and their cronies. This is not about
ignorance, it's about greed."