Putin's Night Wolves in Prague

Helena

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Sep 2007
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Maybe my user title will provide a clue.
The "Night Wolves", a Russian motorcycle club known for its staunch nationalism and close ties to Vladimir Putin, who have been making appearances in a number of Czech and Moravian towns and cities in connection with the end-of-war celebrations arrived in Prague on Monday.
At Prague’s Olšany Cemetary they were greeted by groups of supporters and opponents who eventually got into a skirmish. Two men were briefly detained by the police.
The Russian bikers’ presence in the country is highly controversial. They claim they are paying homage to Red Army soldiers who died liberating Czechoslovakia, but critics see their rides as politically provocative and Russian propaganda.
Also:

The chairman of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, has called on deputy leader Jaroslav Foldyna to apologise for his behaviour at a gathering of Russia’s Night Wolves bike gang in Prague on Monday. At the event Mr. Foldyna got into altercations with protesters against the nationalist bikers, who have been linked to President Vladimir Putin.
However, the Social Democrats deputy chairman has declined to say sorry for his actions. Mr. Foldyna released a video – recorded by weights in a gym – refusing to apologise and describing himself as a patriot.
News - All stories | Radio Prague

Bikers from the Russian nationalist Russian Night Wolves motorcycle club arrived in Prague's Olsanske hrbitovy cemetery on Monday, paid respect to the Red Army war dead and met over 150 supporters and dozens of opponents, while both groups had a verbal exchange.
After they met the two groups, the bikers laid wreaths at the memorial to the war dead.
The supporters of the Russian Night Wolves bikers shouted vulgarly at their opponents, who carried EU, Ukraine and NATO flags. The police detained one of the protesters, who attempted to approach the supporters of the club.
There were similar exchanges between both groups earlier on Monday in Pruhonice near Prague. Among the followers of the Night Wolves, there was Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy chairman Jaroslav Foldyna who had a verbal exchange and physical contact with one of the protesters.

The Night Wolves have a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who visits their events.
Previously, the club was sponsored by the Kremlin, but last year, its application for a state grant was turned down.
The club's head, Alexandr Zaldostanov, is blacklisted by the USA and the EU over his support for the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Russian Night Wolves honour war dead in Prague, face critics | Prague Monitor


The Night Wolves have been coming at this time of year for some time now, and they travel to other parts of Europe as well. [MENTION=16063]The Man[/MENTION] I'm sure you know more about them than most Czech journalists. ?

In somewhat related news:

The statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev in Prague was sprayed with colour last night, police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova told journalists on Tuesday, adding that the police were investigating the case.
The statue was already sprayed last year. This time, the town hall will have it cleansed, Prague 6 deputy mayor Jan Lacina said.
At the end of World War Two in May 1945, Konev (1897-1973) helped liberate Prague.
There have been controversies over the statue due to Konev's participation in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising against the Communist regime in 1956 and the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
Marshal Konev's statue sprayed with colour in Prague | Prague Monitor
 
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The Man

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It seems the pro-Putin Russians are even challenging our former dominance in that regard:

German police launch massive crackdown on Hells Angels group | News | DW | 18.10.2017
Night Wolves are why there are no Hells Angels chapters in Russia, or Belarus... They do not tolerate any Western clubs, period. I think I mentioned in that thread I linked there, there was a smaller club in Zelenograd (Moscow suburb), called "Three Roads", they wanted to franchise with the Bandidos, in defiance of a "warning" from the Wolves. Mob of Wolves attacked their club house at night, killed a young fella who was there and trashed the place and set it on fire, no joke... Putin fucking loves these guys...
 
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Helena

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So they're much bigger than I thought. In a way, I suspected our journalists were over-emphasising the Wolves' links to Putin because many of our journalists are dumb enough to believe that everything coming from Russia comes from Putin (I mean they, or most of them, are aware of the existence of Navalny and a couple of others, but the general concept of Russians opposing or just not loving Putin seems foreign to them), but your links prove there really is a very strong connection. Do you have any idea why their state grant application was turned down last year (if that's what happened)?

I would agree that many (maybe most) of the Czechs who greet the Wolves here and even get into "altercations" with their opponents probably do support Putin in one way or another, but at the same time I don't think that is the only reason Czechs might welcome them here. Provided they (the Wolves) do act non-aggressively and really do "just" pay respects to the fallen Red Army soldiers, I can see how greeting them could be a genuine expression of gratitude. And it could also be a reaction to the "official" Czech expressions of gratitude toward the US for liberating the western part of former Czechoslovakia in 1945, because since the 1990s the official stance often seems to be that the US is the ONLY power who had any role in the liberation of Czechoslovakia. Which, on the other hand, is the (over)reaction to the pre-1989 official stance that said Czechoslovakia was liberated by the Soviet Union AND NO ONE ELSE. So, anyway.... :)
 
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