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Borat's human rights restricted in Kazakhstan, US says

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The forced closure of Sacha AliG Baron Borat Cohen's Borat.kz website has been listed by the US State Department as an example of the Kazakhstani government's restrictions on freedom of speech and other human rights abuses.

The department issued strong criticism of the country's administration, pointing out that it has no independent judiciary. It also described the murder of opposition politician Altynbeck Sarsenbaiuly, his driver, and his bodyguard as "unlawful deprivation of life". It criticised the country's authorities for failing to follow up possible leads in its investigation into the killings.

The report also criticised restrictions placed on anti-government reporters.

The closure of the Borat website was one of several cited cases of increasing restrictions on freedom of expression. "The government deemed as offensive the content of a satirical site controlled by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and revoked the .kz domain," the report said.

The fictional character Borat, created by Baron-Cohen, provoked ire in Kazakhstan for his portrayal of the country as a goat's-urine swilling, Jew-hating, sister-whoring nation. After the promotional site was set up, the Kazakhstani authorities revoked the .kz domain.

After being threatened with legal action, Cohen chose to respond as Borat, issuing a statement of support for "my government's position to sue this Jew". He then moved the site to a .tv domain, where it remains today.

According to Reuters, the report also lists torture by police, poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrests, military hazing, restrictions on freedom of assembly, domestic violence against women, people trafficking and "severe limits on citizens' rights to change their government" as areas of concern. ®

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