STING, the British rock star and environmentalist, has serenaded businessmen and politicians at a lavish party honouring Gazprom, the Russian state gas monopoly.
An outspoken advocate of rainforest conservation, Sting performed hits such as 'Roxanne', 'Englishman In New York' and, appropriately, 'Russians', to an audience that included Gazprom heads, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, and the head of the Communist party.
His appearance at Thursday's extravaganza, which cost an estimated €1.4m and marked the company's 20th anniversary, may have delighted elite spectators, but it seemed to rub ecologists and members of the public the wrong way.
Vladimir Chuprov, the head of Greenpeace Russia's energy unit, said it "didn't look pretty" for anybody to work with big energy companies such as Gazprom, which he accused of environmental irresponsibility.
"They say he's a progressive advocate, but I don't believe it," Twitter user Vladimir Razhev wrote.
"He dances and sings and kisses [expletive] for money, just like everybody else."
Sting's management did not respond to telephone messages requesting a comment yesterday, but the musician has denied charges of environmental hypocrisy before.
"I think it's an amusing red herring for the media to blame celebrities for the global crisis. None of us are blameless in this," he told the BBC in an interview in 2009. (© Daily Telegraph, London)