Russia’s chief police investigator has become the butt of jokes and internet memes after he used a magnifying glass to study a laptop.
Alexander Bastrykin and his Investigative Committee colleagues are seen examining evidence on screen at their Moscow headquarters, in a report on prime-time TV bulletins.
An Ekho Moskvy news site poll says 53% of respondents thought the “Case of Bastrykin’s Magnifying Glass” is bigger than the renaming of Kazakhstan’s capital after that country’s former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, which made headlines around the world.
Most of the coverage, mocking or otherwise, suggests that Mr Bastrykin doesn’t know how to zoom in on computer images, or even enlarge them.
The large magnifying glass in the hand of a detective was a gift to satirists in a country with a long-standing love of Sherlock Holmes, and a deerstalker was frequently photoshopped onto the unfortunate chief investigator’s head.
A popular meme involved inserting key words that Mr Bastrykin might be searching for, ranging from “corruption in Russia”, through “you, at a protest meeting”, to “a garage, not too expensive”.
Some members of the public think the moment also makes a broader point about the competence of the government.
“He’s neutralising the dangerous rays from that foreign electronic calculator. And this Doctor of Law has been running the Investigative Committee since 2011,” sighed one Twitter user.
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The Investigative Committee eventually came up with an explanation for their boss’s use of the magnifying glass.
It added that Mr Bastrykin is “always attentive to details that might prove to be of cardinal importance in establishing the truth of a criminal case,”
But the explanation failed to impress much of the media.
They were quick to quote optical expert opinion that a magnifier would also only show enlarged pixels, not a sharper image.
In the meantime, the Meduza news site did some investigating of its own, and came up with a simpler explanation.
“Mr Bastrykin wears spectacles while studying documents, and takes them off to look at the screen,” it says, illustrating its story with an official clip of the chief investigator doing just that.
‘Pair of bloodhounds’
“Opticians advise you to use a magnifier rather than your own glasses to examine small print, for example, so it’s most likely that Mr Bastrykin just finds that more convenient.”
At least the satirical “From Russia with Love” spot on the UTV channel approves.
“So you see, sometimes the good old ways are better than new-fangled technology! If only he had a pair of bloodhounds, the case would have been cracked ages ago,” it concludes.
Reporting by Damien Sharkov and Martin Morgan
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