Alarmed by the antics of a fictional TV reporter who portrays their country as a nation of horse urine-drinking misogynists, Kazakh authorities have invited the British comedian who plays the character to come and see the truth for himself.
Rakhat Aliyev, Kazakh first deputy foreign minister and a powerful son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, asked British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to visit the vast, oil-rich steppe nation and meet normal human beings rather than the larger-than-life lunatics shown by Cohen's TV reporter Borat.
"His trip could yield a lot of discoveries -- that women not only travel inside buses but also drive their own cars, that we make wine from grapes, that Jews can freely attend synagogues and so on," Aliyev told local news agency Kazakhstan Today late Wednesday.
The Central Asian state's Foreign Ministry threatened Cohen with legal action last year after he hosted an international music show as Borat, who arrived in an Air Kazakh propeller plane controlled by a one-eyed pilot clutching a vodka bottle.
His coarse jokes included portraying the world's ninth largest nation as a land where cow-punching is a sport and locals would first shoot a dog and then have a party.
In the forthcoming movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," Borat depicts Kazakhs as a nation of misogynists, racists and anti-Semites whose favorite drink is fermented horse urine.
The Kazakh authorities shut down Cohen's www.borat.kz site, prompting a move to a new homepage, www.borat.tv.
But the influential Aliyev, with interests in professional soccer and sugar trade, has made a pacifying gesture.
"I understand that the feelings of many people are hurt by Cohen's show," he said. "But we must have a sense of humor and respect the creative freedom of others."
COPYRIGHT: (c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.