Kanye West Performed for Kazakh Strongman's Family

Rapper entertained at the wedding of president's grandson

September 3, 2013 11:30 AM ET
Kanye West
Kanye West performs in Basel, Switzerland.
The Image Gate/Getty Images

Kanye West gave a private performance last weekend at the wedding of the grandson of Kazakhstan's longtime authoritarian president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, The New York Times reports.

Saturday night, photographs appeared showing West stepping out of a black Mercedes and onto the red carpet at the Royal Tulip hotel in the city of Almaty, where Nazarbayev's grandson, Aisultan Nazarbayev, married Alima Boranbayeva, the daughter of a top executive at Kazakh state energy firm.

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An Instagram video also surfaced, showing young wedding guests posing in front of the stage while West performed Graduation cut, "Can't Tell Me Nothing." A guest named Alyona Gadjilova took the video; he did not comment on the clip or the wedding when reached for comment by the Times.

West was reportedly the personal guest of President Nazarbayev, according to the Kazakh news agency Tengrinews. The Kazakh leader has been accused of human rights abuses during his 23-year rule, drawing criticism as recently as 2011 for a crackdown on striking oil workers in the city of Zhanaozen that left more than a dozen dead. The strike led Sting to cancel a concert in the Kazakh capital city of Astana.

Earlier this summer, Jennifer Lopez drew criticism after she gave a private concert in Turkmenistan, where she sang "Happy Birthday" to President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. The pop star and her publicist later claimed that neither had any idea about the country's record of human rights violations. In recent years, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Usher performed for former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, though Bey ultimately donated her fee to charity.

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