Borat Sagdiyev

Borat’s home bans Fonterra

It looks like more countries are banning Fonterra products. Including Borat’s Kazakhstan:

Former Soviet republics Belarus and Kazakhstan have joined Russia in banning Fonterra dairy products in the wake of the dairy giant’s botulism scare, Trade Minister Tim Groser has confirmed.

A spokeswoman for Mr Groser said the two central Asian nations had placed “temporary restrictions” on Fonterra products, the same move taken by Russia last week.

The two countries were small markets for Fonterra, the spokeswoman said.  Read more »

Humourless Bastards

ᔥ The Atlantic

The Kazakh government really are a pack of humourless bastards:

Following some embarrassing incidents involving its national anthem, Kazakhstan has passed new legislation imposing stiff punishments for treating its state symbols with disrespect.

Under a bill passed by the upper house of parliament on June 14, anyone who mistreats or desecrates state symbols, which include the country’s flag as well as its anthem, faces up to a year in jail or a stiff fine, the Novosti-Kazakhstan news agency reports.

The new legislation was drafted after Kazakhstan made international headlines over a mix-up involving its national anthem at a March sporting event in Kuwait. Then, the hosts accidentally played a version of the spoof anthem that featured in the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which extols Kazakhstan’s potassium and prostitutes and memorably contains the line “Kazakhstan: greatest country in the world, all other countries are run by little girls.”

That blunder came just days after a goof-up in northern Kazakhstan, where the Ricky Martin song “Livin’ la Vida Loca” was accidentally played instead of the anthem at the opening of a skiing festival.

The incidents made headlines and got laughs abroad, but at home Astana — ever sensitive to its international image — was not smiling.

This new legislation is its response, and the penalties are tough: up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of 3.2 million tenge ($21,000). Bakytzhan Sagyntayev, the minister for economic development and trade, has said that the legislation came in response to the anthem mix-ups and to an incident where people were found to be using the national flag to transport garbage.

Will they fund a sequel

ᔥ Sydney Morning Herald

Despite objecting strenuously to the original film and depiction of Borat and Kazakhstan it seems there has been a benefit to the country:

A senior Kazakh official has credited the comedy film Borat for helping increase tourism in the Central Asian state, the news agency Tengrinews reports.

British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen created the fictional character Borat, purportedly a Kazakh reporter, for the 2006 satirical film that represented Kazakhs as misogynist, racist and stupid.

But Kazakhstan has increased the number of tourist visas tenfold since the release of Cohen’s movie, Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov said.

“And I thank you that you have attracted tourists to Kazakhstan,” Kazykhahov said.

Kazakhstan’s authoritarian leadership in the months after the movie came called Cohen’s depiction of the ignorant and bigoted Borat as insulting, and not typical of residents of the energy-rich country.

The character Borat’s negative depiction of Kazakhstan returned to international headlines last month when officials at a Kuwaiti sports tournament accidentally played the fake version of the Kazakh national anthem, which Cohen wrote for the movie, in honour of a Kazakhstan athlete’s gold medal performance in a shooting competition.