Kazakhstan: Astana Not Amused at Borat Blunder in Kuwait
Officials in Astana famously lose their sense of humor when it comes to Borat, so the playing of his spoof version of Kazakhstan’s national anthem at a sporting ceremony in Kuwait isn’t raising many smiles in the Kazakh capital. The Borat anthem was accidentally played by organizers at a medal ceremony at the Arab Shooting Championships. Gold medalist Maria Dmitrienko stood on the podium looking bemused at the mix-up, which was described as a “scandal” by Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov.The false anthem – 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” – was played in the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The film featured Sacha Baron Cohen as a spoof journalist from Kazakhstan who engages in sexist, racist and childish antics around America. It delighted audiences in the West but left officials and ordinary people in Kazakhstan – where cinemas declined to show it – fuming that their country had been singled out for ridicule. Kazakhstan’s not having much luck with its national anthem lately: The blunder in Kuwait came days after a goof-up in northern Kazakhstan, where the Ricky Martin song Livin' la Vida Loca was accidentally played instead of the national anthem at the opening of a skiing festival.Officials weren’t amused then, either, and heads had to roll. The director of a local sports school was fired.In the future, organizers of events at home and abroad might like to make sure they select the real national anthem, My Kazakhstan, a rather splendid ode to the sun, the sky and the steppe, with not a mention of prostitutes or potassium.
Joanna Lillis is a journalist based in Almaty and author of Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan.
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