The Night Wolves, a Russian motorcycle club with close ties to the Kremlin, arrived in the Czech Republic yesterday as Europe marks the end of the Second World War.
The timing of the group's arrival was controversial because for central and eastern Europe May 8 also marks the beginning of Soviet dominance in the region. Furthermore, Czechs are remembering 50 years since the Prague Spring, which was brutally ended by forces sent by Moscow.
"Prague's always been a difficult place for us," said the tour's leader, Andrei Bobrovsky, "It's a centre of resistance in a way. Resistance to good and reason...[however] If you look around you will see that we are welcomed by many"
On arriving at Prague’s Olšany Cemetary to pay tribute to the hundreds of fallen Soviet soldiers buried there, the bikers were greeted by opposing groups of supporters and protestors. Two people were detained by police as scuffles broke out. who eventually got into a conflict and two men were detained by the police.
One opponent of the group told Euronews: "They want to show us that Russia is big and it is coming nearer and nearer to us."
Robin, a member of the Night Wolves, said the group has a different motive: "With this ride, I want to remember what happened 70 or more years ago. When a lot of young people, died for the freedom of Europe."
The group will now head to Berlin for the last leg of their tour.