Row over Uzbekistan clouds Cannes celebrity AIDS gig
A row over Uzbekistan's stand on HIV-AIDS erupted Thursday hours ahead of a celebrity fund-raising gala held at the Cannes film festival each year.
In an open letter, French media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) denounced the scheduled attendance at the dinner of Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the Uzbek president and an ambassador for the country.
It pointed out that the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmfAR) headed by Liz Taylor, recently signed a petition calling for the release of HIV-AIDS activist Maksim Popov, 27, sentenced to seven years in jail in Uzbekistan for writing a brochure that authorities said would promote antisocial behaviour.
Commenting on the RSF statement, Amfar chief executive officer Kevin Robert Frost, said the foundation had met with Karimova "who has agreed to take steps to clarify the situation and to work with Amfar on the matter."
Karimova is on a list of VIPs for the evening mega gala along with Italian fashion king Giorgio Armani and US movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
One of the top AIDS fundraising events on the world calendar, the gala last year, headed by Sharon Stone and Bill Clinton, raised 4.5 million dollars (3.23 million euros) in 2009, less than half of the 10 million collected in 2008.
Fund-raising offers this year include spending a day with Clinton, a dream weekend in Hollywood and a role in a comedy with Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts.
© 2010 AFP