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At Official Ceremony, Mock 'Borat' Anthem Dogs Kazakhs Again

Maria Dmitrenko (top center) atop the podium following her first-place finish at the Grand Prix shooting championships in Kuwait this month.
As Kazakhstan's Maria Dmitrenko stood at the top of the podium following a first-place finish at the Grand Prix shooting championship now under way in Kuwait, she might have expected to hear this:

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But instead of the anthem "My Kazakhstan" -- a heart-swelling paean to a "valiant people" who "scored a victory of glory and success," Dmitrenko heard this:

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That's the mock Kazakh anthem popularized in the satirical movie "Borat," which -- among other things -- praises Kazakhstan for its superior potassium exports and comparatively clean prostitutes.

A video of the incident shows Dmitrenko looking unfazed by the mix-up, holding her hand over her heart during the duration of the tune.

But other Kazakh athletes told ITAR-TASS they immediately demanded that organizers turn the song off, only to be told that was the music authorities had provided.

The team has requested a formal apology, and the Kazakh Foreign Ministry has indicated it is investigating the incident.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov notes that at the world weightlifting championship in Paris last year, organizers were quick to apologize for playing a former Kazakh anthem by accident. The current affront, he says, is even more serious.

The anthem debacle has left many wondering if Kuwaiti organizers were playing an unfriendly prank or legitimately thought the "Borat" satire was the legitimate anthem.

Ignorance is a possible explanation: Kuwait was one of the many countries to ban screenings of "Borat" when it was released in 2006.

The Kuwait mix-up follows an incident earlier this month in which Kazakhs themselves mistakenly broadcast the wrong song during an official event.

Organizers at a local ski festival in Kazakhstan mistakenly played Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca" instead of the Kazakh national anthem.

Perhaps the "Borat" anthem was an improvement -- it, at least, contains the word "Kazakhstan."

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UPDATE: The organizers have issued an apology, according to a dpa report.

-- Daisy Sindelar

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