Whatever you do, don't impersonate Borat in Kazakhstan. They don't like it. A group of 6 Czech tourists who decided to dress up in "mankinis," the tiny bathing suits made famous by Sacha Baron Cohen, have been detained by authorities in Kazakhstan's capital Astana. Kazakhstan was not very pleased with Borat and specifically the way that the character portrayed life and culture in the country when the movie came out in 2006. The country denounced the movie upon its release and further, tried to get the website for the movie, which had a Kazakhstan web domain, taken down. The movie is banned, so 6 tourists dressing like Borat is probably not a very popular sight in the country.
The 6 men from the Czechoslovakia wore the green "mankinis" as well as black wigs to look like Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and decided that they wanted to take a group picture in front of the "I Love Astana" sign. Authorities didn't find the humor in the act, so they detained all 6 of the men. The men were each fined 22,500 tenge, which is roughly about $68 dollars, which is pretty cheap when you think about it, especially if the men were able to pull the picture off.
The news reportedly sparked a debate on social media about how this group would have been treated in other countries. Kazakh journalist Assem Mirjekeeva took to Facebook to ask, "I wonder how would the Czech authorities react if our citizens did the same in their country?" One poster said that, "I think they would have not reacted. It is because our police are so sensitive," while another person responded by saying, "They should have had a criminal charge for insulting the honor of the nation."
In addition to publicly denouncing Borat and banning the movie, Kazakhstan also launched a multi-million dollar "Heart of Eurasia" campaign to counter the Borat effect. Sasha Baron Cohen replied by denouncing the campaign in an in-character press conference in front of the White House as the propaganda of the "evil nitwits" of Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is, throughout the movie, referred to by Borat as his nation's second leading problem, with the first being the Jews. In November of 2006, Kazakh TV personality Jantemir Baimukhamedov travelled to London with the goal of presenting Baron Cohen with horse meat and horse urine, which were claimed by Borat to be the national food and drink of Kazakhstan, but he was unable to organize a meeting with him.
The Kazakhstan tabloid Karavan declared Borat to be the best movie of the year, having had a reviewer see the film at a screening in Austria. The paper said that it was, "certainly not an anti-Kazakh, anti-Romanian or anti-Semitic..." Instead, the tabloid noted that the movie was more anti-American than anything, calling it "sad and funny at the same time." Some people were in on the joke, while most of Kazakhstan was not, which is unfortunate and has led to the arrest of 6 Czech tourists for dressing as Borat. You can see photos of the Borat cosplayers below, courtesy of Kripparrian's Twitter account.
Now I know what not to wear on my next visit to Kazakhstan pic.twitter.com/jpVDuSWXck— TSM Kripparrian (@Kripparrian) November 15, 2017