Night Wolves

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Night Wolves
Ночные Волки
Nochnye Volki
Night Wolves logo.jpg
Formation 1989
Type Motorcycle club
Location
Membership
over 5,000[1]
Leader Alexander Zaldostanov (nicknamed ‘The Surgeon’)[1]
Website www.nwrussia.info
Night Wolves
Vladimir Putin and Night Wolves biking in Novorossiysk

The Night Wolves (Russian: Ночные Волки, tr. Nochnye Volki) are a Russian motorcycle club.[2]

History[edit]

The club began forming out of a mixture of rock music fans and motorcycle enthusiasts who held then-illegal rock concerts in Moscow (see Censorship in the Soviet Union) as far back as 1983.[3] By 1989 the club was consolidated as an informal motorcycle group bearing the name "Night Wolves", during the Perestroika era of the Soviet Union. It became the first official bike club in the USSR. The club established several chapters in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Macedonia.[2] Alexander Zaldostanov (also known as The Surgeon) became the leader of the club in 1989.

The club runs multiple rock clubs and arranges many rock concerts in Russia. It also runs several tattoo parlors and is one of the founders of the annual International Moscow Tattoo Convention. In 1995, they launched a clothing line, "Wolf Wear," and established the "Wolf Engineering" custom shop subsidiary. It has gathered mechanics and general motorcycle enthusiasts from all across Russia, runs several motorcycle repair and custom shops and also developed the Wolf-Ural (Волк-Урал) motorcycle together with the manufacturer IMZ-Ural.[4] Another subsidiary is the racing team "Wolf Racing" which was created in 2001 and participates in and organizes various events in Russia.

A member of the Night Wolves, Valery Bely, was shot and killed in a dispute with a rival biker gang, Three Roads, in November 2012.[5] The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, joined the group in August 2014.[6]

Activism[edit]

The club has long taken an interest in the political and social life of Russia, engaging in youth social issues[7] and becoming involved with the Russian Orthodox Church.[8]

Relationship with the Kremlin[edit]

In March 2014, The Daily Telegraph reported that the club had developed close ties to Vladimir Putin and has a generally pro-Russian sentiment.[1] Their August 2014 show in Sevastopol, supporting the annexation of Crimea by Russia and depicting Ukraine as a country controlled by 'fascists', was attended by an estimated 100,000 people and broadcast by Russian state television.[9][10]

Sanctions[edit]

In December 2014, the United States announced sanctions against the Night Wolves, following reports that its members had "served in an armed group in Ukraine and took part in storming a natural gas facility and the naval headquarters in Sevastopol."[11] Canada added Zaldostanov to its sanctions list in February 2015.[12]

Views[edit]

On anti-government protests[edit]

In January 2015, the group's leader, Zaldostanov, expressed support for a Russian Anti-Maidan movement which said it was ready to use violence to stop anti-government protesters.[13][14]

On foreign countries[edit]

In an interview, Zaldostanov said "For the first time we showed resistance to the global Satanism, the growing savagery of Western Europe, the rush to consumerism that denies all spirituality, the destruction of traditional values, all this homosexual talk, this American democracy.."[15]

On homosexuality[edit]

In January 2015, Zaldostanov suggested that "Death to faggots" could be an alternate name for the Russian anti-Maidan movement.[13] At a February 2015 "Anti-Maidan" rally in Moscow organized by Zaldostanov, popular slogans included "We don't need Western ideology and gay parades!".[16]

Membership[edit]

According to some of the Night Wolves, a prospective member must be male, from a former Soviet country, invited by an existing member, and must participate in club events for two years before becoming a member.[17]

The Night Wolves do not discriminate on religious grounds.[17]

The Night Wolves are openly homophobic and do not allow gay men to join the club.[18]

Criticism[edit]

Night Wolves are conflicted with other biking clubs. Yevgeny Vorobyev, the leader of the Three Roads accused them of becoming too politicised.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Alsop, Harry (March 2, 2014). "Meet the Night Wolves – Putin's Hell's Angels". The Telegraph. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Romriell, Lucas (January 2003). "The Wolfmen". Cycle World: 90–91. 
  3. ^ Ночные Волки  » История [Night Wolves - History] (in Russian). nwrussia.info. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Мотоцикл Урал Волк". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Parfitt, Tom (November 14, 2012). "Member of Vladimir Putin's favourite biker group shot dead". The Telegraph. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Kadyrov Shows Some Love to 'Night Wolves' Biker Gang". The Moscow Times. 21 December 2014. 
  7. ^ Молодежная автономная некоммерческая организация "Ночные Волки" (in Russian). oprf.ru. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Авто Mail.ru (19 April 2012). "Ночные волки за Патриарха - автоновости - Авто Mail.Ru". Авто Mail.Ru. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Kates, Glenn (August 11, 2014). "Sevastopol's Olympic-Sized Take On Ukraine: Bikers, Ballet, And Swastikas". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 
  10. ^ Seddon, Max (August 11, 2014). "Watch The Pro-Putin Rally Where The War In Ukraine Was Performed By A Motorbike Gang". BuzzFeed. 
  11. ^ Parfitt, Tom (21 December 2014). "US slaps sanctions on Putin's biker gang over Ukraine". The Telegraph. 
  12. ^ Dyer, Evan (19 February 2015). "Alexander Zaldostanov, Russian biker, makes Canada's sanctions list". CBC News. 
  13. ^ a b Walker, Shaun (15 January 2015). "Patriotic group formed to defend Russia against pro-democracy protesters". The Guardian. 
  14. ^ "Putin Now Has His Storm Troopers and Pogroms Will Surely Follow, Ganapolsky Says". interpretermag. 23 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Parfitt, Tom (17 March 2015). "Crimea, one year on: the Night Wolves howl for Putin". The Telegraph. 
  16. ^ Parfitt, Tom; Oliphant, Roland (21 February 2015). "Thousands take part in 'Anti-Maidan' protest in Moscow against uprising in Ukraine". The Telegraph. 
  17. ^ a b Llobet, Anais; Popov, Maxime (7 October 2014). "Leader Of Putin's Favorite Biker Gang: 'We Consider Ourselves Part Of The Army Of Russia'". Agence France-Presse (Business Insider). 
  18. ^ http://rbth.asia/society/2013/11/12/russias_night_wolves_ride_alongside_putin_48963.html
  19. ^ http://rbth.co.uk/society/2013/12/08/night_wolves_russias_answer_to_hells_angels_32369.html

External links[edit]