The famous Russian biker gang known as the Night Wolves is planning a cross-Europe riding rally that is angering and upsetting Eastern European leaders.
The Night Wolves aren’t exactly cast in the same mold as North American outlaw motorcycle gangs; they’re known more for ultra-nationalism, a love of heavy metal music, and even a devotion to the Orthodox church (presumably for its national symbolism). Their leader is currently sanctioned by the US and Canada over his stance on the Ukrainian conflict.
Although they’re not often in the news here in North America, the 5,000-strong Night Wolves been a force in Russia for years, often serving as a backdrop for Vladimir Putin’s re-election campaigns (he loves to have his photo taken with them). Now, the group is planning a rally across Eastern Europe that has neighbouring countries bristling.
The occasion for the rally? Next month, Russia plans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of their victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The Night Wolves plan to leave Russia in the last week of April and ride through Eastern Europe – Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria, the countries where the Soviets battled the Nazis so fiercely in the 1940s – ending the parade in Berlin on May 9.
However, leaders in those countries are less than enthusiastic over plan. Polish prime minister Ewa Kopacz has labeled the plan as a “provocative” action, and says her country’s border guards might turn the Night Wolves away. Other countries are echoing her caution, probably not without reason; history runs deep in Eastern Europe, and the last thing many people in those countries want to see is a group of ultra-nationalistic Russians riding through their homeland, particularly in view of what’s going on in Ukraine.
But the Night Wolves plan to push on, despite the opposition, and are allegedly threatening “reaction” if they’re opposed.