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President Borat: French Leader Mocked Over Traditional Kazakh Costume

  • Claire Bigg

French President Francois Hollande (left) with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev

French President Francois Hollande (left) with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev

It's not a photo Francois Hollande will want to remember.

A picture portraying the French president decked out in a traditional Kazakh embroidered coat with fur trim and a furry hat has sparked a barrage of jokes on social media.

The outfit was a gift from his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbaev, who is seen posing next to Hollande wearing a formal blue suit and tie.

Although Elysee Palace aides had insisted that the photo not be distributed, it was posted on Nazarbaev's official Instagram page before being quickly removed at Hollande's request.

Critics of the French leader have had a field day with the image, posting spoof versions with Hollande donning various outfits, including one of Santa Claus, Asterix, and Miss France 2015.

RT, the Russian Kremlin-funded news channel, did not shy away from poking fun at the French leader -- just as he flew in to Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The photo has generated speculation about Hollande's next outfit…

...as well as questions about what Nazarbaev promised Hollande in return for the costume photo-op.

It has also prompted comparisons with Borat, the fictional Kazakh character impersonated by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

"It's President Francois Borat!" Britain's Mail tabloid quipped.

It's not Hollande's first photo embarrassment.

In January, he was photographed sneaking out of an apartment close to the Elysee Palace on a scooter and wearing a crash helmet after a tryst with his lover, a 42-year-old actress.

The image led to his breakup with his first lady, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, who went on to publish a damning book describing him as manipulative and deceitful.

Another unfortunate shot of Hollande, whose removal by AFP and Reuters sparked an outcry in France, showed him sporting a farcical grin during a school visit last year.

Hollande's popularity rating is currently 12 percent -- the lowest ever for a French president in the history of polling.

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    Claire Bigg

    Claire Bigg covers Russia, Ukraine, and the post-Soviet world, with a focus on human rights, civil society, and social issues. Send story tips to BiggC@rferl.org​


     

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