Slovakia alarmed by Night Wolves military-style base

Over 200 prominent Slovaks signed a petition demanding authorities to take action against the activities of the nationalist Russian motorcycle gang, knows as the Night Wolves, which has set up a base in Dolna Krupa, 65km northeast of Bratislava. The bikers, led by a former physician known as Alexander 'The Surgeon' Zaldostanov, have taken over an old pig farm.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska has already warned that the Night Wolves, who supported Russian troops during the annexation of Crimea in the Ukraine in 2014 and maintained close ties to President Vladimir Putin, are a security risk to NATO and the EU.

“They are no harmless motorcycle lovers,” Kiska said in a statement. “The Night Wolves are a tool of a regime that took part in the usurpation of a territory of a neighbouring country. The establishment of a so-called European headquarters of the Night Wolves in Slovakia is a mockery of the Slovak Republic's official position on the annexation of Crimea and Russian policies,” he pointed out.

The Russian bikers opened a Slovak branch in June and held military-style exercises in the same month with the Slovak Recruits, a 200-strong paramilitary group. Footage from a drone flown over the compound in Dolna Krupa showed ex-army tanks, other armoured vehicles, and anti-aircraft guns parked on the site. The gang said they intend to turn it into a museum honouring Soviet WWII units, and signs on the building claims it will open in September.

The Night Wolves are closely linked to President Putin, who has joined the bikers several times at rallies, riding a Harley-Davidson trike, and called them his friends. In 2013, he awarded Zaldostanov the Russian Medal of Honour and has praised him for his loyalty. The Night Wolves have been under U.S. sanctions since 2014 for its role in the pro-Russian separatist insurgency in Ukraine and the subsequent annexation of Crimea.

In March, Zaldostanov and Sasa Savic, the leader of the club's branch in Serbia, were banned from entering Bosnia because of security concerns, and in 2015 the Night Wolves were refused entry to Poland.

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