Sting’s Defence

by craig on February 21, 2010 10:18 am in Uzbekistan


Sting and the Glamorous Dictator’s Daughter Gulnara Karimova

Sting has come out with a spirited defence of his visit to Tashkent as the guest of Karimov’s daughter:

‘I supported wholeheartedly the cultural boycott of South Africa under the apartheid regime because it was a special case and specifically targeted the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class.

‘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.

‘I have come to believe that cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular.

‘I seriously doubt whether the President of Uzbekistan cares in the slightest whether artists like myself come to play in his

But this really is transparent bollocks. He did not take a guitar and jam around the parks of Tashkent. He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?

Why does he think it was worth over a million quid to the regime to hear him warble a few notes?

I agree with him that cultural isolation does not help. I am often asked about the morality of going to Uzbekistan, and I always answer – go, mix with ordinary people, tell them about other ways of life, avoid state owned establishments and official tours. What Sting did was the opposite. To invoke Unicef as a cover, sat next to a woman who has made hundreds of millions from state forced child labour in the cotton fields, is pretty sick.

Next time you see Sumner on television warbling on about his love for the rain forest, switch him off.


A commenter suggested a boycott of Sting’s music. I was going to agree, but on reflection it would take an enormous effort to track down someone who listens to it, before we could ask them to stop.

Evidently Sting could do with listening to David Tennant in Murder in Samarkand:

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  1. I wonder if he could put right this mistake by funding some jamming sessions in the parks of Tashkent – out of the fee he has already been paid?

  2. "For the restless, not the true believers, this one's for you.."

    21 Feb, 2010 - 10:59 am

    “In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria”

  3. Jon: if he did that he’d probably get arrested.

  4. I thought ‘artists’ of his stature waived the fee or donated it to a suitable local charity. I wouldn’t have thought he needs the cash. What was it ‘don’t stand so close to me’ – good advice Gordon.

  5. Craig, you spelt dictator wrong in the photo caption.


  6. Do you think Gulnara would become less evil if I gave her one?… thought not.

    It’s a pity, because she’s a good looking bitch.

  7. “Next time you see Sumner on television warbling on about his love for the rain forest, switch him off.”

    I always do, can’t stand the self righteous hypocrite.

  8. Sting’s and Trudy’ personal spiritual adviser Paul Lowe can be contacted on his website via :

    ,where u can advise with your thoughts on how Tantra and Torture are different.

    Tantra, Trudy, Torture and Tyrants. What a Sting in the tail. What a headline.

  9. What a load of bollocks he’s spouting out. He’s given legitamacy to a barbaric regime.

  10. Sting’s and Trudy’s personal spiritual adviser Paul Lowe can be contacted on his website via :

    ,where u can advise with your thoughts on how Tantra and Torture are different.

    Tantra, Trudy, Torture and Tyrants. What a Sting in the tail. What a headline.

  11. or post on Stings Facebook page…

    kisses from the dead….

    thanks for coming to Uzbekhistan, sorry couldn’t come to the concert Stinngyy…too busy being tortured in jail.Can’t write ,no fingers left. Love to Trudes.

  12. Sting blew it for me when he did that gas-guzzling car ad ages ago. The Guardian’s has been hilarious about his and Trudy’s enormous carbon footprint while “being green”. It’s astonishing that such tossers can get any cultural cred. But legitimising a vicious regime is a new low. I suggest a boycott of Stings music might be in order.

  13. Craig,

    You have made the point in this sentence:-

    “He got paid over a million pounds to play an event specifically designed to glorify a barbarous regime. Is the man completely mad?”

    In answer to you question:-

    “Is the man completely mad?”

    Answer: ” NO! – not completely made – just substantially rich”

    Indeed he knew that he was doing it for the lolly and not for reasons of any principled cultural exchange.

  14. This “Daily Mail” comment, puts events in better focus:-

    “A European diplomat said: ‘This is a strategy to give credibility to a government with blood on its hands. It’s a personal initiative of Ms Karimova, presumably linked to her ambitions to succed her father.’ ”

  15. “I suggest a boycott of Stings music might be in order”.

    I’ve been implementing one for decades, along with pot noodles, pork scratchings and Mills & Boon fiction. Totally painless.

  16. “Sting, 58, accepted up to £2million to sing for Gulnara Karimova” the sheer greed when he knows where the money comes from.

    Oh, I blogged on the Anderson advocating torture here:

  17. Dear Craig

    Principles are good but sometimes for some people, it is all about the pounds and the pence.

    I listen to Sting, so you have found someone who listens to his songs.

    I won’t be stopping.

    As for his concert, he was turning a fast buck.

    I don’t think the moral case would take precedent over the financial one.

    People make choices then they have to live with them.

    We live in difficult times.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Righhts at Glasgow University

  18. I thought Sting had finished with music in the early nineties along with Phil Collins and that similar 80’s crowd, certainly he’s not said anything musically since then, seems he’s now found another market. No doubt there will be some songs against torture released when the cheque has been safely banked from this little outing.

  19. The biography of a celebrity asshole, in three short chapters. Excerpts below all come from news stories published in October of 2009.

    From the Associated Press, on Sting’s deep thoughts on Obama:

    The former Police frontman said that he spent some time with Obama and “found him to be very genuine, very present, clearly super-smart, and exactly what we need in the world.” Sting, 58, said he’s hopeful that the world’s problems can be dealt with, but is frustrated that “we seem to be living in a currency of medieval ideas.” “My hope is that we can start talking about real issues and not caring about whether God cares about your hemline or your color,” he said. “We are here to evolve as one family, and we can’t be separate anymore.”

    From EurasiaNet, on Sting’s visit with the daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, whose regime killed one prisoner by immersion in boiling water:

    Tickets to see British singer Sting perform in Tashkent will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 dollars, organizers say. The former Police front man will play at the Alisher Navoi Theater on October 18 as part of Art Week Style, a fashion and art event masterminded by Gulnara Karimova, President Islam Karimov’s daughter. Even the cheapest ticket will cost more than 45 times the average monthly salary in Uzbekistan, the report notes. Previous entertainers at Karimova’s showcase include Rod Stewart and Julio Iglesias.

    From Fashion Week Daily:

    Sting made it all way to Uzbekistan for the event, where he joined beautiful Dr. Gulnara Karimova at fashion shows and beyond. The superstar closed the week with a concert at the Tashkent Sate Opera and two giant screens were positioned in the square outside the State Theater to accommodate all of those who couldn’t get tickets to the charity performance. And believe it or not, the entire city knew every word to nearly all the songs in the set.

    Courtesy: Harpers

  20. Paul Johnston

    21 Feb, 2010 - 5:52 pm

    Sting and Bono!!!

    Paid to see both back in the 70’s and early 80’s but not again. As to visiting Uzbekistan, I did last year and while it was most interesting, it’s difficult to meet ‘ordinary people’. Then as a salve to my conscience I set up a direct debit to MSF.

  21. “I played in Uzbekistan a few months ago. The concert was organized by the president’s daughter and I believe sponsored by Unicef.”

    Unicef again! I wonder why all the crooks in Uzbekistan tend to shelter themselves under this umbrella. From our report on forced child labour in Uzbekistan:

    As I searched through the Unicef website, apart from a few cursory mentions of child labour here and there, I could not find anything substantial. Unicef maintains an odd silence on the problem of state-sanctioned child labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector. Why? Maybe, this is a hint. Excerpts from an Unicef press release, issued in December 2007: “The Unicef representative in Uzbekistan, Mr. Reza Hossaini, has been awarded the order Do’stlik (National Friendship). ‘It is a mark of the highest contribution in strengthening the cooperation between Unicef and Uzbekistan in developing the young generation,’ said the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, in a statement… In receiving the presidential order, Mr. Hossaini thanked government, ministries, civil society and partners at national and local level for their commitment and hard work and said: ‘Together we have achieved a great deal and this order will further inspire us to do even more for women and children in the country.'”

    When I asked Umida Niyazova about this, she did not mince her words, “Unicef has an office in Uzbekistan. They hold ineffective formal meetings and events, they never publicly criticise the government and never demand that the government admit and address the problem of child labour. You will not find much information about child labour from their reports or their website. So, the national friendship award from the brutal Uzbek regime is the price for such kind of loyalty.”

  22. Thanks Tasneem that’s very revealing. UNESCO also play an active part on the regime glorification activities.

  23. Actually Craig its not one, but four excuses:

    1. The only repressive dictatorships worth opposing are those special cases run by “the younger demographic of the ruling white middle class”. All those other repressive regimes in human history dont count.

    2. By playing for the daughter of the bloodthirsty dictator who paid me lots of money to make his regime look good I am taking a principled stand against being seen in public with the bloodthirsty dictator who paid me lots of money to make his regime look good.

    3. I have come to believe that the way to promote better human rights and the open commerce of art, culture and ideas in closed and repressive societies is to accept large amounts of money from the people responsible for that repression and those abuses of human rights.

    4. The leaders of places like Uzbekistan dont buy my records and t-shirts or go to my concerts, so why should I be concerned about how they treat their citizens?


    …from The Daily Mash

    TOYOTA was last night urged to fix the brakes on more than 250,000 Prius hybrids as quickly as possible, except Sting’s.

    More than 800,000 people have now contacted the Japanese car giant pledging to buy a Prius if they could just see their way clear to overlooking the particular car owned by the former Police frontman and medieval folk bassist.

    [continues at…'s-prius-alone-201002052443/ ]

  25. “the Glamorous Dictator”… ?

    Nice one.

  26. Sting, Bono, Geldorf et al are all vile self-publicizing hypocrites who love the sound of their own voices and who crave publicity so much they will be photographed with mass murderers and seek to hang around in their company, viz Bono at Gleneagles with Bush and Bliar. Ditto Sting and Geldorf. All has-beens anyway.

    btw Craig adjective ‘glamorous’ in wrong place in title. Suggest

    Sting and the Brutal Dictator’s Glamourous Daughter Gulnara Karimova

  27. I see from the photograph that Sting has bits of sting around his wrists. Careful Craig – that’s powerful ju-ju.


    Which, is worth understanding. Nato would be better serviced protecting human rights. Elections and the chavs elected are a bygone concept. Rid the world of these morons. That comes from the represented, they can detain, murder and harass so many, cohesion knowing and understanding the enemy within is critical. Who are you intending to vote for ? Are you positive?

  29. What is striking in this photo is the face of a man behind Gulnara. Probably he is a bodyguard and looks so scared turning to the photograph. He is probably thinking “is he gonna blow her up?”.

  30. Charles

    You stopped your quotation from Murder in Samarkand short of the immediately following:

    “Was she really behind the corrupt acquisition of all those businesses, the closing down of rival businesses, the massive bribes from energy deals?”

  31. Theophrastus

    22 Feb, 2010 - 2:16 pm

    Doesn’t look like anyone has posted this yet – an excellent article from the Guardian, which quotes your blog.

  32. I came across this post via the article in the Guardian. I’d like to just say that it refreshing to hear someone talking sense again. Thanks very much!

  33. George,

    Look at this:-

    “George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Righhts at Glasgow University”

    And then this:

    “I don’t think the moral case would take precedent over the financial one.”

    However, with a person like Sting, isn’t the point that he is so financially well off that it is precisely someone in his position, best placed, and popularly positioned, to make the case for standing up for human rights – isn’t that the point George?

  34. This is surprising and disappointing news, Craig, not about Sting, any semi-competent person knows what he’s like, no I am disappointed by UNICEF’s attitude towards Uzbekistan. Their website on this country is totally silent on the issue of child labour in the cotton fields, or on the use of torture: if a child’s dad was tortured that would affect the child, yes? What is more disturbing is that UNICEF’s parent organisation, the UN, does publicise the barbaric nature of the Karimov regime, yet UNICEF is silent.

    I am thinking about making a monthly direct debit donation to UNICEF, but first I will have to send an email to UNICEF about this issue – blimey: is no organisation clean today?

  35. Dear Courtney

    I am not saying that I would do it, just trying to put myself in his mindset.

    He wanted the money.

    I don’t think his position has anything to do with further human rights.

    More like furthering himself.

    Sting isn’t a Clive Stafford Smith.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird

    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  36. Thank you for bringing this situation to light.

  37. sting aka simple simon.

    just another male escort fer hired !

    he bang that bitch googosha hard !

    she giv away all daddy state secrets-

    fer a piece of meat.

  38. These types of regimes – and a number of other types, less obviously oppressive but still with fossilised mindsets – are only interested in ‘art and culture’ when it serves as straight propaganda for their purposes. They like vacuous glamorous events such as fashion shows/ folk tableaux because they are non-threatening. Ideas are their enemy.

    Stalin stated that he banned Dostoevsky because (as a former published and acknwoledged poet) Stalin knew how powerful Dostoevsky’s work was in exploring the human mind.

    Clearly, Sting is not Dostoevsky.

  39. GM Vancouver

    23 Feb, 2010 - 3:34 pm

    One has to wonder, where are the artists boycotting paid appearances in the torture-friendly USA?

  40. I remember seeing a photograph – a mug-shot – of one of the leaders of the Camorra (or perhaps it was the N’Drangheta, or the Mafia, I can’t recall now)in a book – perhaps it was Roberto Saviano’s ‘Gomorrah’ or maybe Alexander Stille’s excellent book on the Sicilian Mafia.

    He was very young, had well-groomed shoulder-length hair and had the face of an angel, such a beautiful young man, with ‘1960s Antonioni’ film-star features. He had murdered countless people and had ordered scores more.

    The gulf b/w external beauty and internal putrefaction was immense.

    I was reminded of this now, looking at the face of the Heir Apparent of Uzbekistan. Gulnar(a): Pomegranate Flower. Gul means flower and is often a prefix or suffix: Shirin Gul, Mahgul, etc. In fact, in Afghan families, it’s almost ubiquitous. Gulnar is a very common name for girls in Muslim families with Persian language antecedents.

    Why have I run off on this etymological tangent? Because when you’re constructing a fictional character, you think very long and hard about their name. The name is crucial. But of course, in real life, names are random; they tell us nothing whatsoever about the person, though perhaps, in the UK at any rate, in some cases more about their parents and social class. This does not apply in all societies.

    A thought-form or two for today:

    How many thousands of other ‘pomegranate flowers’ work themselves into bone and earth in her fields, one wonders? How much blood does she have in her body, and is it less than the amount she has on her hands?

  41. Well done Mr Murray: Sting’s incoherence has also been commented here in Switzerland, where the man has many fans -as on the rest of the planet probably, which explains a personal wealth evaluated approx £185 million.

    Since gaining a few extra quid does not seem to be such an issue, such event further illustrates if needed the discrepancy between an artist’s art and their personality. What a disappointment though.

    They burned the Beatles’ records for the “more famous than Jesus” thing. We should now burn our I-pods, or better: recycle them!

  42. The interaction b/w pop/ rock musicians and politics has always been an uneasy one. It may have to do with the essential nature of the cult of the icon.

    On the ‘Jesus’ point, of course there is a central difference of which I’m sure everyone’s aware; I realise Swiss Anon was not saying they were the same but it’s an interesting jumping-off point. Lennon was pointing out the decline of religion in UK society to a journalist friend at a party and its replacement with the cult of celebrity. In the UK this was self-evident; it was not a big story. The hysterical Religious Right in the USA picked it up and turned it into ‘The Crucible’, late C20th-style. The burning of Beatles’ records, effigies, etc. was an intensely regressive act. Ultimately, 14 years on, this celebrity cult/ religion interface (later explored and expanded by Lennon/ Harrison themselves) contributed to Lennon’s murder. Iain MacDonald’s superlative Introduction to ‘Revolution in the Head’ analyses this particular dynamic very well.

    Cosying-up to a bloody dictator’s heinous heir apparent is something rather different and is itself a regressive act supportive of the forces of repression.

  43. Plenty of hate, uninformed ranting, Daily Mail quotations and self-righteousness. Did anyone stop to think of a constructive way to find out why a man with an active history in human rights and more money than he needs should do such a thing as this. Dig deeper and stop relying on newspapers for ‘facts’.

  44. What is it with these actors/actresses/singers and dictatorship envy? Now it’s hit our government in Washington DC. Obama certainly is itchin to be one!

  45. In regards to Sting….His message is loud and clear….I beleive they are definitely putting something in that Malibu drinking water. Sting has Stung the USA really good this time all the way to he bank. Or has he? Who gets some of that money on April 15? Ouch!!!

    It’s sick…

  46. i guess i’m one of the few in here, who was in uzbekistan whne mr. sting came to give a concert. i’ve heard that the ticket for the concert was costing 4 million uzbek soums for the 3-7th rows, and 2 million uzbek soums for the other places. which is 2000 and 1000 USD by black market rate… TO COMPARE: 400 USd salary is considered to be very good in here…

  47. Mr. Shea Brown

    11 Mar, 2011 - 1:31 am

    It is like one of those third world oil empires buying a tennis tournament to show how lovely and civilized they are,
    while they import Philippinos to work as virtual slaves for them, and while it is against all religious laws to even wear short pants in their country, or for women to leave the house without wearing a mask,, and they only have three tennis courts in the whole country anyway . Sting plays in Uzbekistan,,,, what a whore he is,, is this a surprise ? Almost everyone has a price,, and now he can live with being a whore . Is it not so very easy to see the folks who are quite in love with themselves ? Hard to believe this is the first post,, this article appeared in Feb of 2010 ? I would love to meet the man of conscience,Craig Murray sometime. I have always considered him a most wonderful chap .

  48. love of money,, above other clearly deserving considerations ( which you succintly manage to express spot on as usual ), is always a disaster. I don´t know how Sting was say fifteen years aqgo, his most activist days. I saw him in conceret in Spain a few years ago and I can tell you he disappointed a lot of the audience with his soulless, removed, withrawn performance, There was no connection with the public- I really think his mansion ( s?) have got the best of him, poor little rich man–

  49. Yes I should say Sting is mad.

    Sting is also a major proponent of the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming, which is based on very dubious science, however despite his belief in this bad science it doesn't stop him flying around the world in a private jet.

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