Kazakhstan Lacks Sense of Humor

by Nathan Hamm on 12/13/2005 · 5 comments

Monday Morning calls Nazarbaev “enlightened” (not exactly the word I’d use… and h/t to Katy). Enlightenment apparently does not include having a sense of humor or being above it all as it seemed earlier.

Kazakhstan has shut down borat.kz, the site where the video rebuttal to the government’s criticisms and prosecutorial musings.

“We’ve done this so he can’t badmouth Kazakhstan under the .kz domain name,” Nurlan Isin, President of the Association of Kazakh IT Companies, told Reuters. “He can go and do whatever he wants at other domains.”

Isin said the borat.kz Web site had broken new rules on all .kz sites maintaining two computer servers in Kazakhstan and had registered false names for its administrators.

“New” rules? Sounds an awful lot like what those guys to the south do…

While writing this post, Younghusband put up one of his own in which he says to expect another reply from Borat. I’ll elaborate on that a bit with some advice for Kazakhstan. Never give the comedian more fodder when you’re already the butt of the joke. The graceless handling of the affair only draws international attention to behavior that makes Kazakh officials look like a touchy, insensitive lot. Every last bit of this will end up in the act, and next thing you know, Borat will be telling people he’s a refugee from a bloodthirsty warlord or something.

Lighten up, let it drop, and it’ll all more or less go away.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Narcogen December 13, 2005 at 10:52 pm

The new rules are to allow the government to censor websites inside of Kazakhstan by controlling their domain name servers. Currently all major operators in the country are slaved to the national operator’s DNS system. Eurasia.org.ru, for example, is unviewable inside Kazakhstan without the use of proxies.

Prior to June of this year, it was possible to register a domain name in the .kz TLD thorugh Register.com and host it anywhere. Now, while you can still register the name and host its site anywhere, the DNS servers for that name must be inside Kazakhstan, meaning the government essentially has control over them.

That the Association has chosen (or was instructed) to play I’m-taking-my-ball-and-going-home as a result of something as childish as Borat’s third-rate comedy act is disappointing; however, the real issue here is not that Kazakhstan is just giving Borat more material (which is true). It’s that they’ve now drawn attention internationally to the mechanisms by which they execute their censorship of the Internet in-country, which has largely gone ignored up until now.

KZBlog December 14, 2005 at 5:33 am

I had always wondered if the new laws that sites under .kz had to be located in Kazakhstan was just an attempt to shut Borat.kz down or not. And I agree with your characterization. FOr better or worse, the whole world is much more sympathetic to small funny guy than big sensitive government.

Tim Newman December 14, 2005 at 6:19 am

“But there are no Borats in Kazakhstan!”
“Hurh hurh! Not an more.”

Peter December 14, 2005 at 10:53 am

As a Central Asian colleague of mine was telling me recently, it is pretty hypocritical of the Kazakhs to get so offended as all the things that characterise Borat is how people there tend to describe the Kyrgyz. If they buy the show, they can just dub it and change the nationality of the character; the same way they turned Fawlty Towers’ Manuel into an Italian when it was bought by Spanish television. That would be the sensible thing to do.

oso December 15, 2005 at 11:33 am

The International Herald Tribune had a great piece this morning on the Borat site being shut down. I wish I saw the MTV Europe awards in Lisbon.

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