March 23, 2023

Bratislava, Slovakia
Okolo 700 pro ruských sympatizantov privítalo v Bratislave členov ruského motorkárskeho klubu Noční vlci, ktorých sprevádzali motorkári zo Slovenska, Čiech a Srbska. Noční vlci sa vidali na cestu z Moskvy do Berlína pri príležitosti výročia váťazstva nad fažiizmom. Reportáž približuje priebeh osláv ich príchodu na Slavín po tom, čo ich vjazd do EU cez Poľsko zostal zakázaný.

It began as an epic, if controversial, idea: to retrace the Soviet army’s route to Berlin on Harley Davidsons and surge into the German capital on VE Day this week in a tribute to the victory over Nazi Germany 70 years ago.

But it seems as if the Night Wolves have been stopped in their tracks, with German and Austrian authorities reporting that the Russian biker gang has been reduced to a handful of leather-clad men in a rental car.

The Night Wolves, or Nochnye Volki – otherwise known as Putin’s Rockers because of their ties to the Russian president – is on a 3,700-mile “victory tour” across Europe, which is due to culminate in a mass rally in Berlin on Friday.

But German police said only 10 Night Wolves crossed from Austria into Germany on Sunday, all of whom possessed a valid visa.

Members of the group were said to be making their way to the site of the former Dachau concentration camp, near Munich, but were thought to have abandoned their conspicuous motorbikes in favour of a rental car to avoid detection. The climbdown from motorcycle convoy to single four-wheeled vehicle led the tabloid Bild to ask: “Are the wild wolves … turning into the meek lambs?”

The Night Wolves had been expected at Dachau from midday on Monday, with scores of media representatives waiting for their arrival.

Gabriele Hammermann, head of the Dachau memorial site, said that while she would not turn the group away, they would not be offered a guided tour. “That’s not something we want,” she told BR, the Bavarian broadcaster. She said the group would be reminded of the site’s rules, including refraining from displaying flags and holding demonstrations.

The progress of the Night Wolves, which has 5,000 members and whose emblem is a wolf’s head trailing fire, is being followed closely by Russian media, which has celebrated the group as patriotic heroes.

The Russian embassy in Vienna confirmed the group had left the Austrian capital, where they had laid a wreath at a monument to the Red Army built by the Soviets, in the presence of 500 supporters, and was heading to Munich with a possible stop-off in Nuremberg.

A spokesman for the Upper Bavarian police confirmed a small group of bikers had crossed the Austrian-German border at Bad Reichenhall on Sunday evening. He estimated there were 10 people.

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