Budaj: Night Wolves Here to Show That Russia Is Still Present

Opposition OLaNO party MP Jan Budaj (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, July 20 (TASR) – Politicians linked to the former Communist regime are still advocating the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and supporting paramilitary groups such as the Night Wolves, which exists to remind us that Russian influence is still present, said Opposition OLaNO party MP Jan Budaj at a press conference on Friday.

Budaj was responding to information that controversial Russian motorcycle gang Night Wolves has allegedly set up a Slovak base in the village of Dolna Krupa (Trnava region).

The Opposition MP added that Slovak criminal law currently in force prohibits the promotion and expression of sympathy for any ideologies that suppress human rights and freedoms. “The Soviet flag used by the Night Wolves embodies such an ideology,” said Budaj, who went on to say that a recent statement by former interior minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD) that the Night Wolves behave politely is incorrect.

“They’ve come to irritate democrats and recruit people who are capable of shooting at Ukraine. They’re bringing a message aimed at disrupting the EU and dissolving NATO,” he said.

According to Budaj, the only Slovak body that maintains common sense on this issue is the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry. “We shouldn’t let Slovakia have two [conflicting] policies, however. A  domestic one, in which the Night Wolves are tolerated, and one for the West, in which Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak takes up a stance that he doesn’t identify himself with it [the gang]. Until the Government pulls itself together, we’re obliged to act as citizens,” he said.

The Slovak police are aware of the presence of the Russian motorcycle club in Dolna Krupa and is monitoring the situation and the activities of the gang. No criminal activities have been recorded so far, said the police.

The Night Wolves club, involving about 11,000 members worldwide, is viewed by many as a paramilitary organisation with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian motorcycle gang, which is funded by the Kremlin, is known for its nationalism. For instance, it openly supported the annexation of Crimea by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.