Written in 2001
Where: near Minsk, Belarus
When: October 2000
What: Caught speeding near Minsk
This is a funny story that happened on the way to Russia, near Minsk. Back home when we get pulled over by cops we pay what we have to pay, not even thinking of bribing an officer, at least I don't, but in other places around the world that's not the case. Bribing is common and many people do it, in some cases, like Russia, it's normal to do so. Me being a Canadian and never having done that I had no clue what I would do if I was pulled over in Russia, so I made sure I didn't go too fast not to get into trouble. But I wasn't as worried as being pulled for breaking a law, I was more worried for being pulled over for not having done anything. This was one of the things that concerned me for the trip. I had read motorcyclists telling how they were bribed for no reason at all. The fact that I was high profile as hell didn't help. Usually like many people I work on not getting caught breaking laws, but in this case I set out not to break any laws once I crossed into Eastern Europe. Surprisingly I would find along the way a completely different story in the eastern block countries, the police would pull me over just to look at the bike, touch it, and even play with the throttle. I was stunned and thought it was hilarious, at first anyway. On one occasion I was stopped several times within a few kilometers. One policeman even told me to shut it off so he could push the starter. But then you have to understand there are few if any modern motorcycles in these countries. They would sometimes talk to me a little, maybe take a quick peek at my documents, and let me go on my way. But when I got near Minsk I was coming down this road at maybe 80 km/hr. and looked up at this sign in Russian to figure out how to get to Minsk. When I looked back down I saw this big guy in camouflage fatigues pointing me to stop. I had been caught speeding 20-40 km over the speed limit at a check-point. You see along the roads in Belarus and Russia there are checkpoints every now and then, making you slow down to 40 km I think. The policeman came up and in typical Russian started barking at me in Rusky, of course I told him I couldn't understand anything. He told me to come with him and he showed me his radar gun, with the numbers on it. Then he brought me to his office inside, sat down and pointed at his computer screen and said in broken English, you see this screen, I can put your info and give big trouble to you. And he looks back and says, money. Yeehaa, this was my first bribe. But the cheesy part comes when I get out my stack of Belarussian money. This is a long story, but I had no clue what this money was worth, but he did. When he saw I was lost he started to point what he wanted, I told him no. He then said he wanted this amount, I said no, I offered half. He then lowered his price, but I said no again, and raised mine, then he gave me another, I told him give me a receipt, he said ok and agreed to my price. My ticket had cost me about $4. Too bad it ain't this cheap at home.