Borat does public diplomacy

by | Jul 17, 2008

It’s often said that Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character was a source of frequent annoyance to the Kazakh government – and you can see why.  But this makes the Kazakh government’s full page advert in the current Economist all the more inexplicable: for it reads like Borat wrote it.

The advert’s designed to promote Kazakhstan as an investment destination, and in particular to showcase the delights of Astana – the country’s 10 year old capital city, built in the middle of nowhere on the Central Asian steppe (“Ten years ago there was nothing here. We created everything from zero,” says Kairat Kelimbetov, the head of Kazakhstan’s presidential administration in the FT.)  Now read on:

It is interesting to know, that for the first time the issue on transferring the capital to the center of this big country occupying the ninth place in the world with regard to the area, Nazarbayev raised as early as in 1992, i.e. literally a year later, after Kazakhstan became an independent country. 

But only in 1994 the parliament of the country agreed with the arguments of its president.  The very transfer of the capital took place 10 years ago… Economic feasibility is more than evident.


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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