Thursday, August 23, 2007

Two weeks…

Basically I was going to let the BHTimes be my contribution to the art for today but I can't seem to get over what is going on with the Pinsk police concerning my bike. It has been two weeks since I found the thing and they have yet to release it back to me. And what is more, they have been treating me like crap since the first time I tried to get the thing back from them. To my thinking I have properly reported a crime, offered information as to the whereabouts of the primary suspect, gone myself to said suspect's house and notified the police that he was there (though they didn't bother to come), found the guy myself on the street and but no particular means got him to the police station (though they didn't arrest him) and eventually even found the bike itself. And for all of my troubles in dealing with a man who from anyone's opinion is one of the worst human beings ever to come from this region, I not only can't get my bike back from the police but I also get laughed at by them for asking for it. As you might be able to tell from my tone, I am getting a little angry.

I believed what they told me when I was at the police station about being able to get the bike back when I returned from Minsk. I believed them because it seemed as though we had covered the main points of the case clearly; the bike matched the description I gave in the report and the guy who was riding fingered the same guy I had been saying was responsible in the first place. They told me that the bike would be waiting for me when I got back from Minsk. But when I went to take it home, I was told that due to some bureaucratic issue the bike would have to be held for exactly one week. I didn't really understand the whole of the explanation and I wanted that bike in my possession so that there might actually have enough bikes so that we could all go for a ride while my father was visiting, but I let it go out of a sense of good humor and acceptance that there was a way that things worked around here; a little discomfort would in the end result in something positive. But when I went to the station on Tuesday, I was met with another excuse. Apparently the bike, even after a week of sitting there, had not been looked at by the "value expert". This money evaluation it seems is an important part of the case because the value of the object stolen would have some determination on the severity of the crime when it came to speaking with the courts. They were objecting to the value I had put on the bike in the original report and this is what was holding things up. I was told that the expert would have a look at the bike that day and that I could come and get it the following Thursday, which was today. 100% I was told; Thursday I could take the bike home.

But of course this morning when I went in there was not only no bike, but the officer who is in charge of the case was not even in his office. I went next door and spoke to another officer and he repeated that the issue was that the cops didn't like the value I had assigned the bike in the original report and this is what had been holding up the case.

Now, my problem here is not he bureaucratic issues. This no one can do anything about in Belarus. I am not even particularly offended by being brushed off with sweet talk by the cops because frankly, everyone understands that this is part of the lexicon for law enforcement. What did offend me was that these worldly and knowledgeable gentleman were laughing at me for valuing the bike as I had. Both the cop today and the guy who was handling my case have taken the time to tell me I was obviously kidding and fluffing up the value of the bike. My point was, and I tried to explain it to them several times, that the value of the bike is not in the scratched paint or in the cheap Belarusian wheel set I had to put on when it became impossible for me to maintain a track bike due to the bad roads and lack of availability of parts here in Belarus' it was in the frame and the crankset. I tried to show them what I was speaking of, offered to show them on the internet what the original frame and the extended workmanship would be worth. Nothing. Like throwing rocks against concrete.

And you know, the thought has occurred to me that with so many cops apparently in on the "joke", I have to ask if this was the reason they never bothered to lift a finger to deal with the situation all summer long. Had they decided that I had lied somehow? Or was it just easier to say this and excuse themselves from dealing with the responsibility of doing their job.

And I was pissed. I don't like being laughed at in general but telling me that I am either a liar or do not know what I am doing around a bike is worse than an insult. I had Tanya even call in to their director and offer that I was intending to file a complaint against them for making sport of me.

Eventually I found out who the value inspector was and went over to his office. Vladimir Stepanovich is a very easy going man; quiet, intelligent and understated. His job is to asses the value of not only goods reported as stolen, but also for making insurance estimates or property sales. When I came by he fired up the computer and spent a good half hour checking out the frame and manufacturer on the internet. He was very thorough in his study and after he was done he understood completely what I had ben trying to explain to the cops about what the bike was. When numbers such as 1800 Euros started coming up, I knew I at least had my credibility from his office and as for the cops, well, we'll have it writing anyway.

After I called our officer on his mobile and told him that not only had I been right, I had even understated the cost by $200! He said we are probably talking about next Monday.

But I mean, what was the point of laughing at me? They do not want to believe I am reasonable human being? It is easier to diminish me, cast me off as a fool, pretend I do not exist? And really, am I completely without rights of justice? And this guy smash-nosed Sergei; are you telling me that he is a better human being than I? I am lower that a drug addict/thief by the estimation of the local constabulary? His rights to come begging money for heroin, to smash our windows and steal my property supercede my rights to protect my family and try to live in peace with my neighbors?

On my way back I ran into Vaddik by the way and I told him that his good buddy and his toothless hag of a girlfriend had got fingered. He answered me like I didn't know what I was talking about.

"You don't know?" I asked. "It means you are to blame for them. You invited these low rest assholes into our home. You have caused us all a lot of pain for being the drunken bum you are." He answered by saying "Do Svedania" to me. I threw it back to him and added that he and all of us would be much better off if he loaned his talents and appetites to Moscow. And believe me, Nina was happy to see me later on in the day for that.

"We can buy this bike anywhere in Belarus fr the cost of a bottle of vodka" The cop said amidst a stream of laughter.

No you can't. Not really. I built that bike and I knew what I was doing when I did. But aside from that, it is my own private property; it was chained up on my territory and my having to do all the work to try and make a case against a simply atrocious and heartbreaking human being should be respected and not mocked. I say I deserved a hell of a lot more respect that what I got and probably this is a general statement against the town I have been living in as well. Yea, I got slandered by Poland, yea, they stole my money and screwed my life- but after five years of paying for Zaremba's mistakes, you would think they would have figured out who I am by now.

More soon…