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FBI lures Russians to cooperate with photo of Dirty Harry-like iconic Soviet character

FBI lures Russians to cooperate with photo of Dirty Harry-like iconic Soviet character
A law enforcement agency probably shouldn't advertise itself with an image of a character that has about as much respect for due process as Dirty Harry. Or is the FBI sending a secret message to Russian speakers on Facebook?

The Federal Bureau of Investigations wants the public to trust it, so when on Facebook you may encounter an ad explaining how you should tip off the FBI if you learn about a crime. And if your preferred language is Spanish or, say, Russian, the FBI has you covered, too.

One particular message has been making waves in Russia this week after finding its way into the news cycle. The FBI used the photo of beloved actor and singer Vladimir Vysotsky, accompanied by a text in Russian: "We have things to talk about. We love Vysotsky, too." Good to know, except the photo shows him playing one of his iconic screen parts — that of major crimes detective Gleb Zheglov, who is basically the Soviet counterpart for Harry Callahan in terms of his methods.

Zheglov is a hard boiled, experienced lawman cracking down on bandits in Moscow in the first months after the end of World War II. Passionate about punishing criminals, he has no qualms about bending, or even breaking the law himself to get things done. With this approach, he serves as a foil to his younger new partner, a war veteran, who is all about protecting the innocent and giving second chances to people who genuinely wish to turn their lives around.

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Admittedly, Vytsotsky infused the character with his personal charisma when the original book was turned into a TV series in the late 1970s. And just like in the US, there are plenty of people in Russia who like his brand of justice and wholeheartedly subscribe to his motto: "Thief must be in jail." One can see why the FBI thought an ad featuring Zheglov would be appealing.

The question remains, however, whether the US agency missed the cultural nuances or hinted that framing people for crimes they didn't commit, which is what Zheglov did to gain leverage, was a-okay for them.

It's probably the former, considering the FBI's previous record with Russian-language ads. One they ran on Facebook in September last year, supposedly to get new recruits, was written in scrambled Russian, misspelling three words in a seven-word phrase and misplacing a comma.

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