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Robbie Williams selling soul to dictator
Robbie Williams has been accused of selling his soul to the “dictator” Vladimir Putin after it emerged he will be performing in Russia for the football World Cup.
The singer will headline Thursday’s opening ceremony, which will be attended by the Russian president prior to the tournament’s first game, between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Politicians and campaigners criticised the move and urged him to follow the lead of the royal family, as well as government ministers, and refrain from attending the event in protest against Russia’s alleged involvement in the .
The head of the global Magnitsky justice campaign, Bill Browder, a former client of the anti-corruption lawyer who was in Moscow in 2009, tweeted: “There’s lots of ways to make money Robbie Williams, but selling your soul to a dictator shouldn’t be one of them. Shame on
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“This message is on behalf of Sergei Magnitsky, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estimirova, victims of MH17, 10,000 dead Ukrainian soldiers.”
The Labour MP Stephen Doughty said: “It is surprising and disappointing to hear that such a great British artist as Robbie Williams, who has been an ally of human rights campaigns and the LGBT+
community, has apparently agreed to be paid by Russia and Fifa to sing at the World Cup opener.”
“At a time when Russian jets are bombing civilians in Syria, the Russian state is poisoning people on the streets of Britain, as well as persecuting LGBT+
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people in Chechnya and elsewhere – let alone attempting to undermine our democracies – I can only assume Robbie will be speaking out on these issues alongside his performance?”
John Woodcock MP, who sits on the home affairs committee, also condemned the former Take That member, who will be paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for the brief appearance.
“We all want to support the England team but Robbie Williams is handing Vladimir Putin a PR coup by performing at the thuggish pariah’s opening ceremony just months after Russia carried out a chemical weapons attack on English soil,” he said.
“I understand why the national team felt they should go and compete but no patriotic public figure should be giving
a thumbs up to Russia by acting in this way. Even at this late stage, I really hope Robbie will reconsider and pull out.”
In a statement released by Fifa, the world governing body of football, Williams invited football and music fans to “party with us in Russia … for an unforgettable show.
“I’m so happy and excited to be going back to Russia for such a unique performance. I’ve done a lot in my career, and opening the Fifa World Cup to 80,000 football fans in the stadium and many millions all over the world is a boyhood dream.”
Williams will be accompanied by the Russian soprano Aida Garifullina for the the musical extravaganza. The two-time World Cup winner with Brazil, Ronaldo, will also take part in the ceremony, in an as-yet unspecified role.
A spokesman for Williams said the celebrity did not wish to offer comment. According to the Sunday Times rich list, Williams is worth £165m.
This will not be his first Russian performance. Earlier this year, the singer performed at a St Petersburg party to celebrate 25 years of MegaFon, a Russian mobile phone company controlled by Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek-born Russian
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billionaire and Arsenal shareholder.
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