Putin’s Circus Comes to Town
07 May, 2015
Much like his Soviet predecessors, Russia’s current leader spares no effort for self-glorification. Starting with taxpayer-funded “Nashi” youth movement, who are tasked with harassing people who do not like His Majesty, and ending with a whole coterie of internet shills who “shape public opinion” for 15 rubles per post, thousands of people sing serenades to Putin daily.

“The bikers are obviously cruising for a bruising in order to play victim and give the Russian media another chance to screech about

One such group of sycophants is particularly noteworthy – Night Wolves, Russian President’s pet motorcycle club. Their main activities include taking part in pro-Putin rallies, giving interviews about how great he is, holding motorbike trips in his honor and so on – not without monetary compensation, of course.
On April 25, this posse of comedians began a motorcycle trip titled “To Berlin,” which involved replication of Red Army’s rampage through Europe during World War II. Unfortunately for them, the original idea of 2000 bikes riding from Moscow to Berlin was nipped in the bud by Lithuania and Poland. who barred them from entering, with Polish biker clubs promising to organize them a “warm welcome” if they dared to show their noses in the country. geotv.geReports of what happened next are conflicting – Russian media claims that Night Wolves have somehow made their way into Slovakia, Austria and then Germany, while Western media’s account of events shows many of the bikers detained at the aforementioned countries’ borders and their visas revoked.
Surprisingly enough, several of them were also spotted in Georgia. Bedaubed from head to toe with St. George ribbons and flying Russian flags, the bikers got into trouble almost immediately upon arriving into the country. Several young men, some of them members of “Free Zone” NGO, surrounded them and demanded that the bikers take the ribbons off, cut them up with their own knives and trample them. The bikers complied and went on their way, while the young men in question were detained by the police on charges of vandalizing private property. They were released soon afterwards, however.
The second incident involving these bikers took place in the town of Sighnaghi. Inga Arakhamia, a local denizen, approached them and asked to take the St. George ribbons off their motorcycles, explaining that they are a symbol of Russian aggression and displaying them is extremely disrespectful for the country they were in. The bikers ignored her request, which prompted her to approach and remove one of the ribbons herself. In response, one of the bikers punched her, knocking the phone out of her hands. The incident is currently being investigated by the police.
Members of Putin’s motorcycle club are still in Georgia, and only time will tell what other trouble they will get into before leaving, but their presence here is an obvious provocation. St. George’s ribbon, originally instituted as a military decoration by Russian Empire three centuries ago, has now firmly established itself as a symbol of Putinism and Russia’s aggressive actions, getting derisively nicknamed Potato Beetle ribbon for its distinctive colors. Its usage is banned in Latvia and actively discouraged in post-Soviet space. Members of Night Wolves sporting these ribbons and Russian flags in Georgia is akin to Japanese bikers riding into China under Imperial flags while decked out in replicas of Bukoushou Order. The bikers are obviously cruising for a bruising in order to play victim and give the Russian media another chance to screech about “fascism.”
When Night Wolves visited Georgia in 2013, they were given a relatively cold welcome by the society, but to the surprise of many, Georgia’s Patriarch Ilia II met with them and several journalists interviewed them. But this happened before the occupation of Crimea and instigation of war in Eastern Ukraine. Night Wolves themselves bleat about “unity of Orthodox Christians,” “our grandfathers fighting in WWII together” and other examples of the same rhetoric Putinist Russia fed Ukraine for several decades, which makes keeping a very close eye on them extremely important.
There exists information of another group of these clowns on wheels arriving to Georgia on May 9 to take part in Victory Day celebrations (which are quite modest in Georgia, as opposed to Russian parades, hysteria and pomp), and all measures need to be taken to avoid them staging an incident - something Russia is extremely proficient at. The ideal decision would be to refuse them entry and remove those currently in the country without unnecessary fuss.

Author: Zura Amiranashvili