Georgia has refused entry to members of a controversial Russian biker gang who are known for their support for President Vladimir Putin and who were attempting to enter Georgia to commemorate there the Soviet Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany 72 years ago.
A group of about 50 bikers from the Night Wolves group tried to cross the Georgian border through the northern Larsi check-point yesterday but were turned back by Georgian border guards, Russian media reported. Media reports said the bikers were not explained the reasons of the refusal.
Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Shalva Khutsishvili confirmed with Georgian media that the bikers were turned back and said their entry would be against Georgian legislation. He added that border guards have the right to ask a traveler about their travel purposes and get other information too from them and if there is any reason for not letting this person enter the country, border guards can turn them back.
The Night Wolves bikers were reportedly invited to Tbilisi by the Russia-Georgia Youth Union, a pro-Russian organisation that had planned an event in central Tbilisi to mark Victory Day on May 9. Once this information spread, a petition was launched in Georgia, asking the President and the Government not to let the bikers enter the country. The petition was signed by more than 3,300 people.
The Night Wolves are controversial due to their support for Putin and their role in the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Their leader, Alexander Zaldostanov, is known as "the Surgeon” and is one of the founders of Anti-Maidan, a Russian group that has promised to crush liberal protesters it believes are determined to create a Ukrainian-style revolution in Russia. The Surgeon is seen as friendly with Putin, and the Russian president has previously ridden with the gang.