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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Moscow honours legendary Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Actor Vasily Levanov helped design the statues of the sleuths
A monument to the fictional British detective Sherlock Holmes has been unveiled in Moscow.

The statue, near the British embassy, shows a pensive Holmes standing, pipe in hand, with his companion, Dr Watson.

Translations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories flourished in the former Soviet Union, and were made into a television series.

Actor Vasily Levanov played the Russian Holmes and he advised on the design of the monument.

Sherlock Holmes became hugely popular in the former Soviet Union, despite one short story collection, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, being banned in 1929 for supposed occultism.

The ban was later lifted and six Russian-language film adaptations cemented the appeal of the super sleuth.

Filmed entirely in the then Soviet Union between 1979 and 1986, the television series was one of the most successful in the history of Russian broadcasting.

It is credited with forming a popular perception of Great Britain, and a fascination with the amateur detective.

Vasily Levanov received an Order of the British Empire for his portrayal of Britain's most famous literary detective, which is widely regarded as one of the best.

He is the only Russian actor to have received the honour. Both Queen Elizabeth II and the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher were reportedly fond of his Sherlock Holmes.

Series director Igor Maslennikov attributed Holmes' appeal to a sense of security: "He is reliable. Whereas the police are to punish someone, Holmes wants to help the victims. He is the personification of gentlemanly behaviour. Audiences are always in need of someone with those qualities."

The non-profit foundation Cultural Dialogue/One World, which organised the monument, is planning similar projects for the Little Prince and Don Quixote in Moscow, and the Three Musketeers in St. Petersburg.

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