AVAZA, TURKMENISTAN – U.S. pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” on Sunday to Turkmenistan leader Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov in a lavish celebration at a $2 billion Caspian Sea resort.
J-Lo is believed to be the first major Western star to visit the isolated former Soviet republic in Central Asia, known primarily for its vast gas reserves and a dismal human rights record.
Dressed in a clingy outfit, the singer performed with half-naked backing dancers and shook her famous derriere in a rare performance in the Muslim country, applauded enthusiastically by ministers, ambassadors and chief executives of state-owned companies.
She later appeared in a traditional Turkmen dress to sing “Happy birthday, Mr. President” together with stars from Russia, Ukraine, China and Turkey.
A report by Human Rights Watch in January described Turkmenistan as “one of the world’s most repressive” regimes.