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"Night Wolves" bikers planning second Victory Day ride from Moscow to Berlin

March 29, 18:30 UTC+3
The bikers will set off on their Victory Day journey on April 29
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© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, March 29 /TASS/. Bikers from the Night Wolves motorcycle club are planning to hold a second Moscow-Berlin ride devoted to Victory Day late in April, the club’s President Alexander Zaldostanov also known by his nickname Surgeon, told journalists on Monday.

"After our successful battle march last year, we want to repeat it this year too…It may become a good tradition in future to mark Victory Day on wheels or on bikes to be more precise," Zaldostanov said.

The bikers will set off on their Victory Day journey on April 29. Their route will run through the territories of Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany and will finish in Berlin, Germany, on May 9.

Zaldostanov said he expected the race to be more massive this year. "The more our enemies and people whose aim is to rewrite history and humiliate the Victory will try to harm us, the more supporters we are going to get," Zaldostanov stressed.

Zaldostanov said that he would be unable to go to Europe this year because of the EU sanctions imposed on him. "I cannot get a visa," he said.

His fellow-"wolves", however, hope to have no problems at the border this year.

Andrei Bobrovsky, who is in charge of the motorcycling race this year, said the bikers hoped to get more understanding from the Polish authorities this year. "We plan to cross the border on May 1. We hope that it’s going to be more adequate this year. We have had a chance to become convinced of that. We have been to Warsaw at the invitation of our Polish friends. Indeed, some adequacy is being traced in the Polish authorities actions [this year]," Bobrovsky added.

He said that the bikers were planning to visit Khatyn (a Belarusian village 50 km away from Minsk whose entire population was massacred by a Nazi battalion on March 22, 1943); the Brest Fortress, a Soviet war cemetery in Wroclaw; a memorial erected at a place of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp; and the monuments to Soviet soldiers in Vienna and Dresden.

The bikers will participate in memorial events at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park, the Soviet War Memorial in Sch·nholzer Heide and the Brandenburg Gates together with the employees of the Russian General Consulate and representatives of veteran organizations in Berlin on May 9, Bobrovsky said.

Russia notifies Poland of Moscow-Berlin race devoted to Victory Day

The Russian embassy in Poland has officially notified the Polish Foreign Ministry of a Moscow-Berlin motorcycling race "By Roads of Victory - to Berlin" to be held in late April and early in May this year, Sergei Morozov, the chief councilor of the Russian Foreign Ministry department for humanitarian cooperation and human rights, told a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

"Last week, the Russian embassy in Warsaw sent an official note to the Polish Foreign Ministry," Morozov said commenting on obstacles, which the Polish authorities could erect on the race’s way. According to the diplomat, the note contained a request to render assistance to the race’s participants and help them working out a route for the journey.

Morozov expressed regret over what is currently taking place in Poland.

"What’s happening in Poland now is inspiring no great optimism: a campaign to dismantle WWII Soviet memorials continues in that country," Morozov said.

"More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers, the biggest number of Soviet soldiers who fell in Europe, perished in Poland [during WWII]. It is more than in the Czech Republic or Germany," the Russian Foreign Ministry councilor said urging the Polish authorities to be reasonable.

"I hope that Polish politicians will have enough sense to demonstrate a civilized attitude to a race devoted to Victory Day celebrations," the Russian diplomat stressed.

Bikers’ leader claims Europe bans entry to him

Alexander Zaldostanov, the president of the Night Wolves motorcycling club also known by his nickname Surgeon, has said he knows about the EU sanctions imposed on him.

"I am sorry that I will be unable to go to Europe because of these sanctions…I do not if they did that officially or under the carpet. I know that I am under sanctions and will be unable to go anywhere in the near future," Zaldostanov told journalists on Tuesday.

The bikers will set off on their Victory Day journey on April 29. Their route will run through the territories of Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany and will finish in Berlin, Germany, on May 9.

Zaldostanov is on the U.S. and Canadian sanctions list. Until recently, it was not widely known that the European Union had included him in its list.

Zaldostanov did not give a clear answer if he was officially included in the EU sanctions list. He linked the ban on entering Europe to the lawsuits filed by the club’s friends abroad. "Our friends started filing lawsuits over denials to let us enter [Europe]. A court has ruled that the au thorities’ actions against the Night Wolves are illegitimate. I believe that for fear of this growing resistance they excluded me from the official [lists] and included me in the official [lists]," Zaldostanov explained.

"But that does not change anything. They will not give me a visa," he stressed.

The Night Wolves held their first ride devoted to the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) last year. They set off from Moscow on April 25. Their route ran through Minsk and Brest (Belarus); Wroclaw (Poland), Brno and Bratislava (Slovakia), Vienna (Austria), Munich (Germany), Prague (the Czech Republic) to Berlin as the final destination.

A day before the run was due to kick off the Polish authorities warned the Night Wolves that they would ban them from entering Poland, the first Schengen country on the bikers’ way. The bikers reached the Belarusian -Polish border on April 27. The Polish border guards stopped and turned away some of the bikers. A large group of the Night Wolves bikers learnt that the German Foreign Ministry had annulled their visas when they were already in the territory of Germany. But the remaining group of the Night Wolves managed to reach Berlin despite all the odds.

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