A leader of the Russian ultranationalist biker organization known as the Night Wolves said Tuesday the group will continue a planned trip to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World War II’s end despite Poland’s decision to bar them from passing its borders. Polish leaders said this week the Night Wolves’ planned trip from Russia to Germany would be a “provocation.”
The biker club planned to trace the Soviet Red Army’s route through Nazi Germany during its victorious drive toward the capital city of Berlin in 1945. Polish border guards blocked several Night Wolves motorcyclists Monday from passing a border checkpoint.
“I will not disclose any details yet, but we will continue. … This Russophobia will not end well. It is becoming absurd. On the eve of Victory Day, we are forced to hide, covertly visit the tombs of our predecessors,” Night Wolves leader Alexander Zaldonstanov told Russian news agency Tass.
Zaldonstanov was a founding member of the anti-Maidan movement, the Guardian reported. The movement formed in direct opposition to movements within Russia and neighboring Ukraine to sever ties with Moscow in favor of closer cooperation with Europe. The Night Wolves supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea last March. Poland’s border guards searched at least one of the 10 Night Wolves who tried to cross into the country Monday and turned the rest away.
“These people will not cross into Poland. Each of them will receive a separate refusal,” Polish border guard spokesman Dariusz Sienicki told the Guardian.
Germany will also attempt to bar the Night Wolves from crossing its border, regardless of whether the bikers have proper visas, its foreign ministry confirmed Monday. “The border guards are aware that there might be people with visas that are valid but have actually been annulled,” foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told Reuters. “There is a legal administrative procedure in which visas already issued can be annulled, so it would be possible to deny entry to people who are carrying visas.”
Russian authorities condemned Poland’s decision and said it could affect diplomatic relations between the two nations, reports said.