[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 14:02 GMT
Kazakh president laughs off Borat
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Mr Nazarbayev invited journalists to visit his country

Kazakhstan's president has laughed off the film Borat, which mocks his country, saying that "any publicity is good publicity".

Nursultan Nazarbayev, in the UK for talks with Tony Blair, said: "The film was created by a comedian so let's laugh at it - that's my attitude."

Mr Blair's official spokesman earlier refused to say whether the prime minister had seen the film.

It depicts Kazakhstan as racist, sexist, violent and oppressive.

The film - Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan - features a spoof Kazakh TV reporter, played by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, supposedly employed by the country's government to make a documentary on America.

'Never been there'

Mr Nazarbayev was asked about it at a Downing Street press conference.

Scanning the room with a smile, he told reporters: "Maybe the journalist himself - Mr Borat Sagdiyev - is here at the moment representing Kazakhstan.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat
Sacha Baron Cohen's character has been a hit in the US

"I would very much like to speak to him if he is!"

He went on: "It's well known that Mr Sacha Baron Cohen has never been to Kazakhstan.

"The film wasn't made in Kazakhstan; it was made in impoverished parts of Romania.

"The role of Kazakhs there is played by impoverished gypsies from that part of the world.

"The role of a drunken Kazakh was played by an American student, I believe.

"All of them I think are now taking him to court."

'Positive side'

Borat has topped the box office charts in the UK and US.

But it has provoked outrage in other countries and has been banned in Russia after officials said it could offend some ethnic groups.

Mr Nazarbayev said: "But there is a positive side of all this. There is a saying that all publicity is good publicity.

"I think the very fact that you have put that question means you will want to come to Kazakhstan and learn more for yourselves and I invite you to do so."

Kazakhstan's ambassador to the UK, Erlan Idrissov, has criticised the film's portrayal of his country as bearing no resemblance to the reality of an "increasingly modern, prosperous, secular state".

Downing Street refused to be drawn into the row.

A spokesman said the UK had a "very close relationship" with Kazakhstan and was its third biggest foreign investor.

He also praised the country's support for the war in Iraq, adding that it had troops present on the ground there.

Kazakhstan is widely regarded as key to securing Britain's future energy supplies.


SEE ALSO
Borat 'villagers' demanding $30m
21 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
'Sick man' Borat divides Kazakhs
26 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
Cohen defends 'racist' Borat film
16 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Borat holds on at US box office
13 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
US students sue over Borat film
10 Nov 06 |  Entertainment

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific