Kazakhstan's foreign minister thanked Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat on Monday for his 2006 film, which he said had attracted hordes of tourists to the country, according to an AFP report.
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"I am grateful to 'Borat' for helping attract tourists to Kazakhstan," Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov told the Kazakh parliament, according to local news agencies. "With the release of this film, the number of visas issued by Kazakhstan grew tenfold."
The public praise for Baron Cohen's satirical movie marked something of an about-face for the Kazakh government, which initially reacted to the movie's release in 2006 by forbidding its distribution in the country and blocking access to Baron Cohen's website.
The country also threatened to sue the makers of the film, and the issue was even raised during a meeting between Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and then U.S. President George W. Bush in 2006.
The satirical mockumentary, whose full title is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, portrayed the country as an absurdly backwards society, but also used the character of Borat to poke fun at American prejudices and idiosyncrasies.
Last month, Kazakhstan filed a formal complaint with the Asian Olympic Committee after a fake Kazakh national anthem from the film was played at a sporting event in Kuwait, instead of the country's real anthem.