Kazakh Foreign Minister Says Borat Responsible for Tourism BoomS

Borat, a film once banned in its "native country" of Kazakhstan, has actually done wonders for the former Soviet republic, according to Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov.

Speaking before lawmakers in the transcontinental country's capital city, Astana, Kazykhanov acknowledged the 2006 film's role in increasing tourist visa applications ten-fold. "It was a great triumph for us," the minister said, "and I am grateful to Borat for helping to attract tourists to Kazakhstan."

This newly found appreciation for the comic stylings of Sacha Baron Cohen stands in stark contrast to the lawsuit threat made by the same Foreign Ministry in 2005. "We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way," Ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashykbayev said then.

[photo via Getty]