- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2006

‘Take that, Borat’

The Kazakh Embassy is continuing its counter-public relations campaign to use the Borat movie, which opened Friday, to promote the real picture of the thriving Central Asian nation.

Contrary to the mocumentary, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” the former Soviet republic is alive with culture and couture, the embassy said.

Politically, Kazakhstan appears still stuck in the pre-communist days. President Nursultan Nazarbayev won a third term last year with more than 90 percent of the vote. His closest competitor got 6 percent.

As Borat said in a promotional interview last week, “In my country, we let president count votes.”

Politics aside, the embassy hopes the antics of Borat, a character created by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, actuallywill inspire Americans to visit Kazakhstan. Travel writers praise its natural beauty, such as the Tien Shan mountains and the wind-swept steppes, although some warn tourists of decaying industrial cities.

Sayat Tour, the country’s largest tour operator, last week announced its “Kazakhstan vs. Boratistan” tours to attract American visitors, the embassy said Friday.

Marianna Tolekenova, the company’s executive director, even engaged in a little Borat-speak in promoting the tour package.

“With the release of ‘Borat’ … we are hoping many Americans will want to engage in cultural learnings of that unknown glorious nation for their own make benefits,” she said.

Almaty, the old capital, is known for an active night life and for inspiring young fashion designers. Kazakhstan’s Saida Azikhan, whose designs are known for what critics have called “subtle Asian nuances,” is scheduled to visit Washington this week as part of a contemporary Central Asian fashion show Thursday evening at the Meridian International Center.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Tahir Iqbal, Pakistan’s minister of Kashmir and northern areas, who addresses the Kashmiri-American Council.

• Jaime Incer, president of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Sustainable Development, and Zephaniah Maseko, the founder of the Zimbabwean Zvishavane Water Project, who receive conservation awards from the National Geographic Society.

• A delegation of Japanese scientists comprising Toshio Hirano of Osaka University, Nobutaka Hirokawa of Tokyo University, Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University and Atsushi Miyawaki and Masatoshi Takeichi of the Riken Center for Developmental Biology. They attend a conference on biomedicine at the National Institutes of Health.

Wednesday

• Hekmat Karzai of the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies in Kabul, Afghanistan, who addresses the United States Institute of Peace.

• A delegation from Russia comprising Olga Lukyanova, legal assistant at the Pskov regional prosecutor’s office; Elena Lvovich, a judicial assistant at the Saratov Regional Court; Tatiana Sudakova, an associate professor of criminology at the Baikal State University of Economics and Law; Elena Varpakhovskaya, chairwoman of criminal law and criminology at the Irkutsk Prosecutors’ Training Institute; and Irina Abakumova of the Southern Russia Foundation for Encouraging Tolerance and Combating Extremism. They address the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center and the Open World Leadership Center.

Thursday

• Felipe Calderon, the president-elect of Mexico, who meets President Bush.

• Janine Clark of Canada’s University of Guelph and Iris Glosemeyer of Germany’s Free University of Berlin. They participate in a forum on political opposition in the Arab world at the United States Institute of Peace.

• Yossi Beilin, a member of the Israeli parliament, who addresses the New America Foundation.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected] washingtontimes.com.


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