7 Celebrities Who Hang Out With Dictators


Jennifer Lopez

The actress performed for Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov in 2013, reportedly for a $10 million paycheck. The Human Rights Foundation has accused Berdymukhammedov of running one of the most repressive governments in the world.



Dennis Rodman

The former basketball player has said on record several times that he considers North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un a friend. The North Korean leader, of course, presides over what is likely the most oppressed nation in the world.

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Sting performed at an event for Uzbekistan’s Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of President Islam Karimov. The international community has routinely criticized Karimov for his human rights abuses and Uzbekistan’s press freedom. Sting defended his performance, saying, “I am well aware of the Uzbek president's appalling reputation in the field of human rights, as well as the environment. I made the decision to play there in spite of that.”



Hilary Swank

The two-time Oscar winner attended the birthday party of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of torture and abductions. Swank later apologized, saying that she didn’t know the event she attended was in honor of Kadyrov. “Shame on me. The bottom line is I should know where I’m going and I should do better research,” Swank said.

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The R&B singer performed for Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and members of his family during a 2009 New Year’s Eve party in St. Barts. Once word broke that he had performed for the dictator, Usher reportedly said he was “troubled” and promised to donate all of the proceedings from the event to various human rights organizations.

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Kanye West

The rapper was allegedly paid $3 million to perform at the wedding for the grandson of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen has called Kazakhstan a “human rights wasteland” where Nazarbayev suppresses the media and political rights of this people.



Bill Withers, Celia Cruz, etc.

Celebrities hanging with dictators is nothing new. In 1974, the president of Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) invited celebrities to his nation for a boxing match dubbed “Rumble in the Jungle” between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. For a concert preceding the event, Mobutu Sese Seko invited several stars to perform, including James Brown, Celia Cruz, and Bill Withers. Seko formed an authoritarian regime and reigned over his nation for nearly 30 years, amassing great wealth as his nation suffered.

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