“To Berlin!” The Red Army war cry was echoed by hundreds of pro-Kremlin bikers departing from Moscow to the West and flying Soviet flags with the effigy of Stalin and Putin’s Russia, AFP reported.1
Alexeï Verechtchiaguin, a biker fighting in the separatist stronghold of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, stressed the significance of the maneuver. They sought to retrace the route of the Soviet Army through Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria.
But for many of those countries that gesture has an offensive dimension, barely hiding the invading intentions of the Kremlin boss.
Indeed, the group of bikers self-identified as “Night Wolves” or “Hell’s Angels” has a dark history, and President Vladimir Putin considers himself a member of that evil brotherhood.
For the Buenos Aires’ daily La Nación the group constitutes a “gang that is a kind of parallel praetorian guard to the Russian president.”
As the group departed, its founder and leader Alexander Zaldostanov, alias “the surgeon,” waved Soviet flags and shouted: “For Stalin!”
On February 21 (2015), in an anti-Maidan march in Moscow, Zaldostanov urged Putin’s opponents to be “exterminated.” And he warned: “Fear of death is the only thing that can stop the Russian opposition.”
“We are fighting the Fifth Column inside Russia, those working for foreign states,” said the gangster, quoted by The Telegraph and the National Post.
A few days later, Boris Nemtsov, an opponent and former vice-prime minister of Russia, who had been denouncing corruption in the Putin regime and the war in Ukraine, was assassinated on a busy bridge in central Moscow.
Zaldostanov is on the U.S. and European “blacklist” for his participation in the invasion of Crimea and his military involvement in the war in eastern Ukraine.
Along with the “Hell’s Angels” and their boss Zaldostanov, Vladimir Putin took part in a biking raid on the Crimean peninsula.
Over the last year, “the surgeon” has become an ubiquitous character on state television, boasting of being a devotee of Lenin, Stalin, and the (‘orthodox’) patriarch of Moscow. Imitating his boss, who calls him a “brother,” Zaldostanov also calls himself a champion of Christian, family, moral, and religious values.
As far as he is concerned, Putin is the “world’s savior” who came to “reunite the Russian empire.” The head of the “Night Wolves” sees himself vested with the divine mission of protecting the Kremlin leader against the popular and peaceful revolution that Boris Nemtsov promoted before being murdered two steps away from the Kremlin.
“The surgeon” sports black leather jackets, tattoos, esoteric symbols, and shows off an expensive Harley Davidson. In February 2014, with other “wolves” he blocked entry to the Crimea on the first stage of the peninsula’s annexation by Russia, La Nación added.
Putin decorated Zaldostanov with the insignia of the Order of Honor for his “active work on patriotic youth uplifting” and help in finding remains of soldiers from World War II. No lack of devoted services!
In Russia, the “Night Wolves” also held delirious rock shows of a militaristic bent with historical reenactments to glorify the former USSR, defame the West, excite hatred against Ukraine, and promote a personality cult of President Putin, as reported by BuzzFeedNews.
For that end they had the support of the official Russian TV, which aired those frantic shows, and the personal participation of the Kremlin’s top leader, who arrived on a Harley Davison similar to the group head’s.
The gang’s incursion will first go by Belarus, the last blatantly Marxist dictatorship in Europe.
The pro-Stalin and pro-Putin group announced that new “wolves” will join the pack throughout the race and visit cemeteries and monuments dedicated to Soviet “heroes.” A series of events should then take place.
Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz declared the obvious: This visit is a “singular provocation” by an “organized group.” Accordingly, Poland vetoed its entry into her national territory. And Germany denied visas to most of the “Night Wolves” for irregularities in their applications.
The Poles do not forget that their glorious country was occupied and divided between the Nazi and Red armies thanks to the Hitler-Stalin alliance that triggered World War II.
Problems with the incursion by the “Night Wolves” started on the border with Poland, whose foreign relations ministry announced it would deny them entry. The Ministry pointed out several illegalities in their operation and called the march a provocation, said Reuters.2
A vanguard of the “Hell’s Angels” showed up at the Polish border before the time they were due but were barred.
The Russian Foreign Ministry hit back, calling the Polish refusal “ideological” and “blasphemous.” Perhaps even “Nazi” or “Fascist” like the Kiev government, a pretext that would justify violence and even military reprisals.
For his part, Zaldostanov said he would not obey Polish customs and border police and spoke of unmapped alternate roads.
The gang then tried to enter neighboring Lithuania but was also denied access by that small but courageous nation, The Moscow Times reported.
Some of Putin’s “Hell’s Angels” tried to breach Lithuania’s borders through Belarus, and others through the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Gang members presented visas but lacked other essential documents, and so Lithuanian border guards firmly denied them entry.
On numerous occasions, Putin threatened to intervene anywhere in the world where a Soviet citizen’s rights were slighted.
This latest provocation seems orchestrated to justify a larger violence, as indeed many western military experts have feared until recently, wondering only what kind of scenario Putin was likely to fabricate.
The maneuver also evokes live episodes of “hybrid” warfare and maskirovka, a distinctive sign of Russia’s warfare strategy of denial and deception.
Similar stratagems caught NATO’s high command by surprise in the Crimean invasion and in episodes such as the “humanitarian” military truck convoys that entered Ukraine painted in white but were actually empty and used for still unspecified purposes.
“Night Wolves motorcylce club” by www.volganet.ru is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0