A British man working at a foreign-owned gold mine in Kyrgyzstan has been detained and faces up to five years in jail for comparing a local delicacy to a horse penis.
Michael Mcfeat, an employee of Toronto-based Centerra Gold, was detained by police after posting the comment on Facebook, which caused a temporary strike at the mine.
Mcfeat wrote that his Kyrgyz colleagues were queuing for their ‘special delicacy, the horse’s penis’ during holiday celebrations, referring to a traditional horse sausage known as ‘chuchuk.’
Michael Mcfeat (pictured), a British national working at a Toronto-owned gold mine in Kyrgyzstan, was detained by police after posting a comment on Facebook in which he compared a special local delicacy to horse penis
Mcfeat wrote on Facebook (post pictured) that his Kyrgyz colleagues were queuing for their ‘special delicacy, the horse’s penis’ during holiday celebrations, referring to a traditional horse sausage known as ‘chuchuk’
Mcfeat now faces racial hatred charges, which can entail between three to five years in prison under Kyrgyz law.
A local trade union leader confirmed that work at the mine, which accounts for up to 10 percent of ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan’s economic output, resumed on Sunday after a short strike.
Mcfeat later deleted the post and issued an apology on his Facebook page, saying he had not meant to offend anyone.
Horse meat including offal is a popular delicacy in both Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring Kazakhstan where nomadic traditions have been revived since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Mcfeat faces racial hatred charges, which can entail between three to five years in prison under Kyrgyz law
Horse meat including offal and chuchuk (pictured above) is a popular delicacy in both Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring Kazakhstan where nomadic traditions have been revived since the collapse of the Soviet Union
His wife Amanda, a 40-year-old book keeper who lives with their two young children in Abernethy, Perthshire, said she had phoned the Kyrgyz embassy in London and the Foreign Office.
‘It was just a Hogmanay feast – he put up a picture of his colleagues, praised the chef and said the Kyrgyz were queuing out of the door for their special delicacy, the horse’s penis.
‘The next thing, he had put up an apology, and said that nobody else in the picture had anything to do with the comment.
‘I spoke to the embassy in London – [they] said they couldn’t tell me anything until his apology had been accepted.’
Mr McFeat works at the Kumtor gold mine in the east of the country as a welder for the Toronto-based Centerra Gold, who were unavailable for comment. He arrived in Kyrgyzstan in March.
A vendor sells sausages prepared from horse meat at Bishkek’s Osh Bazaar in Kyrgyzstan (file picture)
His father John, who also lives in Perthshire, said his son had meant ‘nothing bad’. ‘He said it was a lovely meal with the local delicacy – but he put ‘horse penis’,’ the 63-year-old said. ‘All we know is that he was detained, but we don’t know if he is still detained. It’s a very worrying time – all we can do is wait.
‘The Foreign Office will hopefully explain that there was no malice in what he put, there was nothing derogatory meant by his post.’
He added that it was ‘unbelievable’. ‘It’s so unreal,’ he said. ‘He loved his job and he was friendly with all the Kyrgyz workers and interpreters. It’s been a terrible start to the year.’
Mr McFeat’s mother Marilyn, 62, added that the first they knew of their son’s predicament was when reports about it appeared on the internet.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are in contact with the local authorities after a British national was detained in Kyrgyzstan and are ready to provide consular assistance.’
The Kyrgyz government is currently in an ownership standoff with Centerra, which wholly owns the Kumtor Gold mine and operates it through a subsidiary.
Kyrgyzstan holds a 32.7 percent stake in Centerra, and until last month had been trying to swap that for a 50 percent stake in the Kumtor mine.
The government walked out of negotiations on December 22, promising to present a new proposal for restructuring the mine’s ownership.
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