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Exclusive interview with NATO biker

It’s great to know that our countrymen are not only among MotoGP pilots, but in NATO as well. Dmitry Rogozin, a politician with a creative approach that is made quite clear in his active “online” life, has shared his impressions and positive lifestyle with Motonews.ru correspondents, and also expanded on the dream of his life, i.e. a huge passion for motorbikes.

Born on December 21, 1963 in Moscow, Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and statesman, diplomat, and Russia’s ambassador to NATO since January 9, 2008. He speaks perfect English, Spanish, Italian and French. As if that were not impressive enough, Mr Rogozin also has a PhD in Philosophy. He is married with a son and two grandchildren.

What was the first bike you rode?
Back in 1981, when I was taking my admission tests at the MSU, I met a very interesting guy, Max Kuznetsov. He had a Yava 5 and he suggested that we take a ride together to Sheremetyevo. The whole way there, he was shouting, trying to explain that the bike was especially helpful in charming inaccessible girls. As he put it, a speed of 100 km/h was best for establishing spiritual contact between a rider and passenger. I have absolutely no idea why he told me all that, but I definitely remembered it. On the way back, as we were riding past the River Station, a policeman tried to stop us, but since Max had no driver’s license with him, he accelerated instead of stopping. The Zhiguli police car chased us all the way to Sokol, where we finally managed to escape. That story is one of the brightest memories I have of my youth.

And what about scooters? Have you ever tried one, just for fun?
No, never. And, you know, I don’t really want to. I’ve ridden snowmobiles, though, often to chase boars and wolves. I’ve also practiced tricks on a jet ski, tried a four-wheeler, and even sledding. But that’s all nothing compared to a powerful bike.

It says on Dmitry Grunin’s web site that motorbikes have been the dream of your life. So, what stopped you from riding a bike?
When I was a teenager, I just didn’t have money to buy one. Besides, my parents objected to it. My dad used to call bikers “half-finished products for morgues.” So there was no way I would have gotten a bike. Then I got married young, at the age of 19, and became a father myself. So, I had no time for a bike, and no place to keep it either.

Do you get to ride a motorbike in Brussels?
As Grunin used to say, “It’s girls who ride bikes.” So, as a real biker, I say ‘dubasim’ instead of ‘to ride.’ I do ride a lot in Brussels. I have two bikes here: a BMW R1200GS Adventure and a DUCATI Monster S4R S Testastretta. Unlike Moscow, you can ride a bike all year round here, but for the past month, the weather has been very Russian here in Europe. Plenty of snow and temperatures below zero. Though there are some crazy Belgium bikers who ride bikes in any weather. I myself used to ride to the embassy, where my office is. NATO security always recognized me right away and opened the gates long before I got to them.

I guess compared to Moscow, the traffic in Brussels is completely different. Isn’t it?
Since I got my driver’s license, I’ve been riding in Moscow all summer, since May 4, 2007, as well as all of September and October. I’ve been stuck in Moscow traffic jams from the early morning to late evening. In the city, traffic is tough – but predictable. And in Brussels, you never know what drivers will do. They may suddenly appear from the right without even looking at what’s happening on the left. So, people are quite scared about that here, which makes them dangerous. I’ve actually fallen several times, but it wasn’t my fault. So, I must confess, I have no respect for Belgium driving habits whatsoever.

Have you ever ridden to work or NATO meetings?
I have an office in NATO’s headquarters. If I ride a bike, I change my clothes and then go to the meeting. Or, most of the time, I leave my helmet and coat in the bike’s trunk and take out my jacket and comb. I always do it like that. Earlier, people would be surprised and click their tongues at me. But I’m certainly not the only one like that here. There are another 5-6 NATO ambassadors who do the exact same thing. We plan to ride from Brussels to Ardennes next spring to enjoy ourselves on the serpentine roads.

What was your longest bike journey? How far did you go? Any plans to do it again?
I will never forget the closing of the BMW season in the fall of 2007 in Sochi, and our great bikers’ trip to Krasnaya Polyana and Abkhazia. I went there with my wife. Interestingly enough, she learned to ride in Moscow, passed the test with no trouble at all and got her driver’s license.

What did your family say when you decided to buy yourself the first bike? And what kind of bike was that, by the way?
It was an old BMW K1200LT. It’s waiting for me in Moscow right now. To me, riding all other bikes is like riding a feather now, after that first bike. I bought it in the winter of 2006 as a birthday present. I was happy as a child. I would go into the garage each night to touch it, to start it up, talk to it. My family thought I was crazy.

I know you’re a big BMW fan, right? Why BMW? Are there any other motorbike brands that you like?
I love BMW for its size and reliability. I myself am 1.9 meters tall, and I weigh quite a bit. So Japanese bikes are too small for me. I think a real biker should have several bikes. If he can’t afford it, he should consider establishing a motorbike kolkhoz, buying bikes together and sharing with each other.

Do you like choppers? Would you ride one?
I’ve never tried one. But give me some time. I’ll grow a big belly first, and then you’ll see me on a shiny, chrome American.

What do you think bikes will be like in 10-20 years?
I think there will definitely be more safe and nature- friendly bikes. We might even switch to electronic bikes – powerful and noiseless.

Do you watch motorcycling events (MotoGP, WSBK...)?
I do watch MotoGP. I would love to go to the championship when it’s in Belgium.

Can we ask you what motorcycling resources you’re familiar with, or which ones you read?
I read your web site! I’ve been a Motonews.ru subscriber for the past couple of years. I also buy all the motorcycling and sports periodicals in French and English at the news stand at the NATO headquarters.

Dmitry, thanks so much! Is there anything you’d like to tell Motonews.ru readers for the upcoming motorcycling season?
I wish everybody a smooth road! Never lose your passion for motorcycles, and never betray them!

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