Infamous Russian biker gang the Night Wolves will recreate World War II as a bike show in Crimea, Ukraine, on Friday night. Russia invaded and recolonized Crimea in 2014.
No one has revealed the exact details of the show, but they did release a trailer. The video shows Adolf Hitler and footage from previous shows. It even shows off a T-34 tank the gang borrowed from a museum in Volgograd.
Russian President Vladimir Putin added the Night Wolves, led by Alexander “The Surgeon” Zaldostanov, to the Kremlin payroll in 2009. He asked the gang “to promote Russian values” in their shows. They attended the opening of Putin’s Patriot Park, an amusement park designed to help boost patriotism, as the country’s relations with the West continue to fall. Twitter users posted pictures of Zaldostanov at the park.
“When I look at all this stuff it makes me feel proud of Russia and realise that we have something to answer the Americans with,” he said, adding:
They wouldn’t dare to press the button. In Soviet times the army was a distant, faraway thing, but now we all feel closer to the army. The army is being romanticised and I see that as a good thing. If we don’t educate our own children then America will do it for us… like we have seen in Ukraine.
In 2013, Putin awarded Zaldostanov with the “Order of Honour.” His relationship with Putin is so close that the latest rounds of Canadian sanctions against Russia in February included Zaldostanov. The United States placed him under sanctions in December.
The Russian government provided the gang a “huge piece of land outside of Sevastopol… to build a vast centre devoted to extreme sports and patriotic education.” They also received land in Moscow.
The Night Wolves gang has scored numerous headlines in the past 18 months after Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine. They stormed into east Ukraine to lend a hand to the pro-Russian rebels and Russian soldiers in March, a year after Putin invaded. The bikers also traveled to Crimea on March 17 and 18 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the annexation.
The international community lashed out at the Night Wolves in April after Zaldostanov announced a victory ride from Moscow to Berlin to celebrate VE Day. Poland was the most vocal since “the defeat of German fascism by the Red Army” placed the country for decades behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. Polish border guards sent the bikers away once they reached the border, even the ones with visas.