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Slovak leader of pro-Putin “Night Wolves” faces possible EU sanctions

1280px-Vladimir_Putin_with_Night_Wolves_Motorclub_(2019-08-10)_6

Bratislava, Slovakia – The Slovak leader of the notorious pro-Putin biker gang known as “the Night Wolves” could be included on an EU sanctions list, according to media reports, citing official EU documents.

The head of the European branch of the Night Wolves, an infamous biker organisation with close ties to the Kremlin banned by the EU last week, Jozef Hambalek could be included among the individuals sanctioned in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Three other leaders of the motorcycle Hell’s Angels-like gang are also part of the EU’s latest sanctions package, according to some reports, including its founder Alexander Zaldostanov, known as “the Surgeon” due to his alleged past career as a facial reconstruction doctor.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Zaldostanov claimed that the sanctions came as “no surprise” and held “no meaning” for him and his organisation.

With chapters in Russia and several other European countries, the Night Wolves have long found themselves in the crosshairs of European governments, and are now banned from operating in EU member states.

Founded in 1989 and directly funded by the Russian government, the organisation is accused of spreading pro-Russian propaganda and misinformation regarding the war in Ukraine and has a long history of unconditional support for President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s policies in Ukraine.

“Putin’s Angels”, as they are sometimes nicknamed, were outspoken supporters of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Hambalek himself is accused of training people to fight in Ukraine in the group’s headquarters, established on a former military base in Slovakia.

The group had about 5,000 members in 2018, including Chechen dictator and close Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov.

The European Commission also believes that a number of Night Wolves members are now directly participating in the war against Ukraine.

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