Kremlin-linked motorcycle club establishes base in Slovakia

The Russian motorcycle club "Night Wolves," which has close ties to the Kremlin, has established its new European base in a Slovak village. 

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
Kremlin-linked motorcycle club establishes base in Slovakia - NewsMavens
Vladimir Putin and Night Wolves leader Alexander Zaldostanov,, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Slovakia, like other European countries, tries to manage the pro-Russian disinformation that spreads on social media. However, it appears Slovaks will now be facing Russian propaganda campaigners in the flesh rather than in the virtual world.

The Night Wolves motorcycle club, which endorses pro-Kremlin propaganda and took part in the Crimean conflict, is trying to settle in the Slovak village of Dolná Krupá.

They have chosen Slovakia because they have a keen supporter there. Wealthy entrepreneur Jozef Hambálek is a fervent lover of motorcycles, Russia and military equipment. He buys decommissioned armored vehicles from the Slovak army depot and repairs them.

Experts warn that hosting the Night Wolves could lead to security concerns, especially since they are already cooperating with an extremist Slovak paramilitary group called Slovenski Branci.

Details from the story:

  • The new base is nine kilometers from Slovakia's nuclear power plant.
  • Night Wolves has their own civic association in Slovakia called NV Európa.
  • The Night Wolves are led by Alexander Zaldostanov, also known as "The Surgeon".
  • Slovak entrepreneur Jozef Hambálek denied that he is hosting the new all-European base of the motorcycle group -- and claims to have ties with its Slovak branch only. However, the Russian state press agency TASS has presented him as one of the bosses of the new European motorcycle center of the Night Wolves.
  • Murdered journalist Ján Kuciak wrote an article about Jozef Hambálek and claimed he was doing a business with numerous controversial Slovak businessmen.
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