The group of Russian bikers is linked to paramilitary groups and security services. Meanwhile, going through piecemeal European borders, at a time heading to Berlin. Last time, they have been spotted in Vienna. Among bans, denied visas, gimmicks and much eyewash, who they are and why everybody is so afraid of the Night Wolves .
Everything and more has been written on their leader, Alexander Zaldostanov, aka”the Surgeon”, from his personal friendship with Putin to his bike raids in Crimea. He has the look of a bogeyman, and his nickname, well, reminds a character in a horror movie. But this is appearance. The former dentist born in Ukraine and who loves to ride an American bike, is the poster boy of Putinism: religious orthodoxy and chauvinism galore, machismo seeping from every pore with the right amount of homophobia, exaltation of Russian values in antagonism to the decadence of the West. Something like the Kremlin press office on two wheels.
The group has had a significant role during the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass. “I’m ready to throw myself on the machine gun nest,” Zaldostanov said. “Have no doubt of that.” For his support to the “return of the Crimea” and to the separatists of the East, the group – heading on a ride to in Berlin to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory over fascism – has been denied entering Poland and Lithuania.
Why are they so scared? Who really are these the Night Wolves?