I was reluctant to write this post as I was returning to Russia, now that this is behind me I can tell the story the Gareth eluded too in his “Estonian Ramblings” blog.
We had just left St Petersburg and were on the E20 heading for Estonian we had passed several police cars and we were no longer nervous as I had been stopped already north of St Petersburg and after a very friendly check on my license I was told to continue. So much for all those stories that we had been told.
The Stories,,, Apparently there two ways to get foreigners, stop them for some incident and extract money or even worse stop them entice them to bribe you then arrest you for trying to bribe a police officer hence raising the limit on the collection plate.
Anyway with the stories behind me I rounded a corner on the E20 riding as we had normally with all bikes in formation each within sight of each other. I noticed two police standing on the side of the road, I was the last bike behind Roger. I saw Jo go past followed by Roger both with no incident but did notice both officers paying attention to the bike group. As I approached they both stepped out and pointed their stick at me. I was directed to the side of the road. I had been “Plucked off by Russian Police”
At first I thought this would be a routine check as the previous experience. Both the guys look odd. The two of them reminded me of the two Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie. Let’s call them that anyway. The tall one, Bert, said “English” I replied no “New Zealand” they both looked puzzled. They both then made a whole lot on sounds raised their voices and did arm motions. I thought it was midnight at the Mana cruising club for a minute. At this stage I new it was more than just a friendly stop. “Papers” they shouted, I handed over my driver’s license as I was reluctant to give my passport, plus my license had worked on the last check point. Bert and Ernie looked at this and turned it around several times. They were very puzzled.
Further hand signals appeared to indicate that I had overtaken a car illegally, this was not the case. I said no and shook my head. Obviously this was a scam but which one?? Next thing I am escorted over the road to their car where they extract a translation book. The book had various Russian road signs and text in French, Russian and English. They showed me a no overtaking sign, two cars side by side one in red. They point at the English version. On reading this I shake my head and say no. They then point at the next phrase “ We will need to write a report” I give them the thumbs up and they looked puzzled, I could hear them say to one another in Russian “Hey Bert what do we do now Ernie”
Suddenly the light came on the Ernie (the smarter of the two) flicks through the book and shows me the next piece of English text “We will need to keep your papers” Thankful that is was only my drivers license I gave them the thumbs up again. This made them even angrier hence more discussion between these two. Ernie due to his intelligence had now taken over the show and Bert was starting to shake as he held the translation book. Then things got heavy they showed me the next piece of text
“You will need to come to the Police station”
“Oh shit”, I thought, “not to happy about this, on my own with Bert and Ernie 100 km short of the Estonian border”
Suddenly in the distance came one of bikes, thank God (no it was Roger) for the system of checking for your buddy. Roger pulls up trying to establish what’s going on at the same time Bert is shaking more and opening the car door telling me to get. I said with signal signs that I would follow them to the police station on my bike. In the confusion of it all Bert suggests that Roger gets in the car, Ernie then tells him that it is not Roger they want it is me. Anyway suddenly as I think things are going to get worse and I walk away to my bike in preparation to follow them to the police station.
It all comes to an end, Bert and Ernie both come over to me shaking their fingers and suggests that I can go. Bert continues to shake while he lights a cigarette.
With my license in hand both Rog and I mount the bikes and head off down the road.
Boy what an experience I was plucked off by those Russian Police.
Daske Va danier Bert and Ernie.