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Robbie Williams selling his soul for World Cup gig – Kremlin critic

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A protracted-time Kremlin critic lambasted Robbie Williams for deciding to sing on the World Cup opening ceremony in Moscow on Thursday, whereas a marketing campaign group supplied to transient the British pop star on Russia’s human rights file.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Soccer Aid 2018 – England v Soccer Aid World XI – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – June 10, 2018 Robbie Williams earlier than the match Action Images by way of Reuters/Andrew Boyers -/File Photo

British businessman Bill Browder, who accuses President Vladimir Putin of conducting a private vendetta towards him, took to Twitter to query why Williams was performing whereas Russia was underneath western sanctions.

“There’s lots of ways to make money @robbiewilliams, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn’t be one of them. Shame on you,” Browder wrote.

Russia is eager to make use of the soccer event to sign that regardless of the sanctions, imposed over its 2014 annexation of Crimea and function in a riot in jap Ukraine, it stays a high participant on the worldwide stage.

The singer’s PR group declined remark. However, Williams, who has beforehand sung at personal events organized by rich Russians, instructed Reuters he appreciated visiting the nation and performing on the opening ceremony was an honor.

U.S.-born Browder was as soon as a serious investor in Russia. He has led a marketing campaign to reveal corruption and punish officers he blames for the 2009 loss of life of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer he employed, in a Moscow jail.

The U.S. Treasury Department subsequently imposed its personal sanctions underneath a 2012 regulation generally known as the Magnitsky Act.

Last yr a Russian courtroom sentenced Browder to 9 years in jail in absentia for deliberate chapter and tax evasion. Browder, who heads funding fund Hermitage Capital Management, has dismissed the allegations.

Human Rights Watch stated it had known as on world leaders to avoid the occasion, pointing to Russia’s rights file and its function within the Syrian struggle.

“We certainly see the way the Russian government and President Putin is using the World Cup and in particular the opening ceremony as a way of legitimizing his power and his authority,” the group’s director for Europe and Central Asia, Hugh Williamson, stated.

“We’d be happy to brief (Williams) on the human rights situation in Russia … so that he’s well informed when he gets there. He could also make a positive contribution if he speaks out during his visit,” he added.

The event kicks off on Thursday with a match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Reporting by Polina Ivanova; Editing by David Stamp

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