Putin-backed Night Wolves biker group barred from Poland over security fears

The Polish prime minister called the planned route a 'provocation'

Ben Tufft
Sunday 26 April 2015 22:40
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The Night Wolves group celebrated the Russian annexation of Crimea
The Night Wolves group celebrated the Russian annexation of Crimea

Poland has said it will refuse entry to a group of Russian ultra-nationalist motorcyclists who are heading to Berlin to commemorate the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.

About 20 bikers, some of whom are members of the Putin-backed Night Wolves group, set off from Moscow with the aim to reach the German capital by 9 May.

The Polish prime minister, Ewa Kopacz, called the Night Wolves’ planned run a “provocation”.

Despite the ban, enforced because of the group’s aggressive nationalism, the bikers are still planning to cross through Poland.

Alexander Zaldostanov, the Night Wolves leader, said that the group would try to cross at the border near Brest in Belarus.

“If they don't let us in as a motorcycle column, we'll go individually, from various points,” he said.

Vladimir Putin rides with the Night Wolves biker gang in the port of Novorossiysk in 2011

“We'll go by a different crossing. But, for sure, we're not abandoning our attempt and we'll go on our complete route,” he was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA Novosti.

The group is expected to reach the Polish border by Monday.

A high-ranking official has already said senior leaders of Night Wolves would be barred from the Germany, should they get that far.

Notwithstanding tense relations between Poland and Russia, primarily over the latter’s action in Ukraine, other events to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of fighting in the Second World War have gone ahead.

Permission was granted for 200 motorcyclists to travel from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to a Soviet memorial in the town of Braniewo, in the northeast of Poland, on Saturday and other vehicle processions are planned.

Putin with the leader of the Night Wolves on a visit to their headquarters

Night Wolves is known for its extreme nationalism and its close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has appeared at a number of their rallies.

After the annexation of the Crimean city of Sevastopol by Russia last year, the group celebrated the act of aggression and established an Anti-Maidan movement.

It aims to suppress any protests similar to those that occurred in the Maidan in Kiev, which helped to topple Russian backed President Victor Yanukovych.

In an interview, the Night Wolves’ leader denounced the West and said: “For the first time we showed resistance to the global Satanism, the growing savagery of Western Europe, the rush to consumerism that denies all spirituality, the destruction of traditional values, all this homosexual talk, this American democracy.”

AP

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