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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 02:34 GMT
Borat spoof film banned in Russia
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat
People living in Russia will have to watch Borat on the internet

Russia has banned the hit comedy film, Borat, which has been accused of poking fun at Moscow's neighbour and close ally Kazakhstan.

The film stars British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as a spoof reporter on a trip to the US.

A senior official at Russia's culture ministry has told the BBC it will not provide a distribution licence.

The film has been described as a "mockumentary" which follows Mr Cohen's journey across the US.

On the way, he has a series of real-life encounters with unsuspecting Americans in which he makes the most outrageous, sexist, racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic comments.

'Not amused'

It has proved to be a big hit in the US and Europe, where it opened last weekend.

Some reviewers have described it as "hysterical" and "the funniest film of the year".

But there are others - not least the government of Kazakhstan - who say it is deeply offensive.

One Kazakh diplomat says that the depiction of his country as violent, primitive and oppressive bears no resemblance to reality.

And it seems the Russian authorities are also not amused.

A culture ministry official in Moscow told the BBC it had refused to issue a distribution licence because the film could potentially humiliate different ethnic groups and religions.

The official would not give any further details, except to say the distributors had the right to appeal against the government's decision.

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