Friday, October 20, 2006

Jagshemash! Borat & Kazakh News Digest

I meant to busy myself today with household chores and a design project, but I couldn’t resist writing first a little about some stories I came across about my current obsession, the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

It took a while, but now the Gypsies want Borat banned. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a German group has filed suit to stop the movie from being shown in Germany. "We are accusing him of defamation and inciting violence against [Gypsies]," said Marko Knudsen, head of the European Centre of Antiziganism Research. I’ll write later about my experiences with Gyspies.

From Almaty (Kazakh capital) Reuters is reporting the Kazakhstan central bank has misspelled the word “bank” on its new notes. “The bank plans to put the misprinted notes into circulation in November and then gradually withdraw them to correct the spelling,” according to Reuters. “The mistake … is not just a spelling problem — it has political undertones,” a letter from members of parliament to President Nursultan Nazarbayev said. “We urge you to tell the National Bank not to put out the notes with a mistake in the Kazakh language.” Reuters reports, “Language is a contentious issue in Kazakhstan.”

And finally, Kazakhstan Today Interviews First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Rakhat Aliyev

Kazakhstan Today: the Ambassador of Kazakhstan in Great Britain Yerlan Idrisov has publicly named popular showman Sasha Baron Cohen a pig. Do his words reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

Rahat Aliev: I cannot make comments on the situation as an official since the work of Sasha Baron Cohen is not included into the sphere of responsibility and interests of Kazakhstan government. The state bodies should be engaged in state affairs and British TV and American cinema are not Kazakh government concern. As far as I know, the Ambassador Idrisov stated his personal point of view which, as well as any another, is reputable.

Kazakhstan journalist Borat--only one of Cohen's characters among whom there are also other scandalous characters: for example, the Austrian journalist of non-traditional orientation. Cohen's program was on in Austria and did not cause any protest.

Kazakhstan in Borat's depiction appears as an unattractive country, however it is the comic character of satire and it is hard to believe that a spectator could seriously believe the pictures drawn by him.

Cohen has never been to Kazakhstan and I would like to invite him to our country. Here he would be able to make many discoveries for himself: that women here do not only travel by buses, but also drive cars, that we do wine out of grapes, Jews can freely go to a synagogue and so on.

I can understand that many are upset by Cohen's program, but we should have sense of humor and respect other people freedom of creativity. It is especially senseless to offend the actor and to threaten him by judicial claims. Such actions only damage the reputation of the country, but make Borat even more popular that is, actually, what he wants to achieve, which is pure PR.

From Kazakhstan Today


Anonymous said...


Sweet Word.

Sheila said...

Hey Ched,
Yeah, I think Jagshemash is a great word even if it isn't Kazakh. My son loves the whole Borat thing and I'm ordering him a cafepress t-shirt I made with Jagshemash on it.

Glad you stopped by.

NAOMI said...

Ha ha I wonder if Borat will take up the invitation to visit Kazakhstan. I think all the hype about Kazakhstan taking offence at some of his remarks has just made him and the movie even more popular.

Sheila said...

The funniest thing was that the government finally, although a bit late, realized to join in with the joke. It'll be fun to see the Kazakh comedian they are sending to the London premiere. I hope Jantik (they call him Borat's brother) and Sacha Baron Cohen have at it. All in fun!

ChrisM said...

Re. the Borat film (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), BBC World have just broadcast a news report on the film's premiere in London. Check out for a video clip of it...

(I'm a Brit now living in Astana, Kazakhstan)