MOSCOW -- Members of Russia’s equivalent of the Hell’s Angels are attempting to ride to Berlin to mark the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, setting up a bizarre confrontation with the Polish and German governments.
Among the bikers are members of the "Night Wolves," the pro-Putin group that blends black-leather biker culture with messianic Russian nationalism, Orthodox Christianity and Soviet military gear.
Russian bikers have been making the 3,700-mile ride for the last two years, but this year, amid increased tensions following the Ukraine crisis, Germany and Poland said they would block the bikers. Many Poles view Russia as having occupied their country after the war and the authorities there said the idea of a ride trumpeting Russian military glory was provocative.
Polish border guards said today that they had stopped 10 of the bikers from entering, though Russian media reported that some had managed to cross individually. A number of riders had told ABC News they would try to cross alone.
The roughly two-dozen bikers left Moscow on Saturday, escorted by hundreds of others, many carrying Soviet flags or booming out Red Army songs, as part of the annual opening of the motor-cross season here.
Those taking part told ABC News the ride was purely about historical commemoration and thanking Red Army veterans.
The Night Wolves were sanctioned by the U.S. for their role in the seizure of Crimea by Russia last year. One member claimed to have helped kidnap a Ukrainian intelligence official. Members of group are currently fighting in eastern Ukraine alongside pro-Russian rebels.