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Banned: ‘Very nice’ holidays and fun in general


Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to roll with the punches. So fair play to Kazakhstan for adopting Borat’s catchphrase — “Very nice!” — for a new tourism campaign.

When the first film featuring the mustachioed character — 2006’s “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” — came out, the Kazakh government was furious and went as far as placing adverts in American newspapers disputing some of the film’s claims. But now, as “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” hits the screens (if there are any cinema screens to watch films on anymore), they are much calmer in Nur-Sultan (what used to be called Astana). That’s despite Sacha Baron Cohen’s movie depicting the country as misogynistic, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, told Huffington Post that using Borat’s catchphrase “offers the perfect description of Kazakhstan’s vast tourism potential in a short, memorable way.” There’s even a promotional video for the country and it certainly looks, er, very nice — which is more than can be said for its record on human rights.

Maybe other countries should adopt similar low-key tourism slogans.

“Britain: Not as good as it used to be, but Scotland’s nice.”

“China: We’re listening.”

“Slovakia: Not Slovenia.”

“Belgium: If you like paperwork, we’ve got you covered.”

Of course it doesn’t matter how cool your slogan is, no one can go on holiday or do much of anything these days.

For example, there will be no trick-or-treating at Halloween in Brussels this year because of tougher measures to curb surging coronavirus cases. “Of course, there will be no door-to-door, no processions at Halloween — all of that, clearly, is … forbidden,” Rudi Vervoort, premier of the Brussels region, said as he announced the measures, which is rather an extreme way of covering up the fact that he hasn’t bought any Haribo.

Meanwhile in the U.K., the police will intervene if too many people get together for Christmas. West Midlands crime commissioner David Jamieson said it’s “not the police’s job to stop people enjoying their Christmas” and then went on to outline how officers would do just that by breaking up large gatherings. There could be a new answer to the question “What did you get for Christmas this year?” “A night in the cells and a fine because granny came round for dinner.”

CAPTION COMPETITION

“Thin-skinned and what’s inside is extremely dubious. But enough about me, would you like some sausages?”

Can you do better? Email pdallison@politico.eu or on Twitter @pdallisonesque

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.

BELOW IS FOR ONLINE ONLY

Last week we gave you this photo:

Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our postbag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).

“I’ve heard many people want to see the back of me. So … do you like it?” by Giovanni Cellini.

Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.



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