Azerbaijan Bans Anthony Bourdain for Stealthily Filming in Disputed Territory

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Probably not sweating this. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images/Cable News Network.

Anthony Bourdain is a pro at getting under people’s skin, but now he’s upset an entire government — the one in Azerbaijan. For an upcoming Parts Unknown about Armenian cuisine and culture, he traveled to a region known as Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory technically located inside Azerbaijan that its neighbor Armenia claims is an autonomous, majority ethnic Armenian state. The pocket of roughly Delaware-size land has created problems between the two countries since the late ’80s. They went to war over this in 1992, tens of thousands died, and they’re still holding peace talks to end the conflict. Bourdain’s style isn’t to ignore issues central to the identity of the country he’s profiling, so naturally he got into a helicopter and flew to the region:

This was just ten days ago, so it’s not clear where else Bourdain visited, or what the Armenia episode will focus on, but it seems System of a Down front man Serj Tankian, who’s Armenian-American, had a hand in setting some of it up:

Bourdain’s social-media posts apparently got the attention of Hikmet Hajiyev, a press official for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry whose anger Bourdain probably could’ve predicted:

After learning he’d decided to enter the territory, the Foreign Ministry quickly announced that Bourdain was being “investigated.” Not surprisingly, Azerbaijan makes visiting Nagorno-Karabakh incredibly difficult. In fact, if you go as a foreigner without explicit permission, it says you broke the law and will add you to a blacklist of people who can no longer enter the country. This week, the Azeri government added Bourdain to this “persona non grata list” for his “disrespect of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Hajiyev tells Agence France-Presse. Filming a show about food in an occupied territory, he adds, is “an insult to one million Azerbaijani refugees who were forcefully expelled from their homes.”

CNN hasn’t issued a statement yet, and neither has Bourdain. Unless, of course, you count this tweet that links to an Armenian news outlet’s story on the ban, and uses a picture of him smiling ear to ear:

Anthony Bourdain Just Got Banned From Azerbaijan