Lithuania refused to let eight members of the Night Wolves — a patriotic Russian motorcycle gang beloved of Vladimir Putin — cross the border into the country on Tuesday as they attempted to make a controversial trip to Berlin to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany, Russian media reported, citing the BBC Russian Service.
“Although they had visas, they could not produce other necessary documents, without which it is impossible to enter into the Schengen zone,” the Moscow Times citied the Russian language BBC report as saying. The Schengen zone is the area of common borders shared by certain European Union countries.
Some members of the gang tried to enter Lithuania via Belarus, while others went via the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
On Monday, Poland refused the Night Wolves entry into the country. BuzzFeed News' report on that follows below.
An ultra-patriotic Russian motorcycle gang were stopped when they tried to enter Poland during a controversial ride to Berlin ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II, the Associated Press reported.
Ten members of the Night Wolves gang, which is loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, were stopped Monday by Polish border control between Brest, Belarus, and Terespol, Poland, according to Polish border guard spokesperson Dariusz Sienicki.
On Friday, Polish authorities banned the group from entering the country after the prime minister called the ride a "provocation," the BBC said.
The bikers vowed to proceed with the trip anyway, but although they were allowed through on the Belarusian side of the border, Polish guards held them in a hangar before refusing their passage, the Associated Press reported.
"These people will not cross into Poland," Sienicki said. "Each of them will individually receive a decision denying them entry into Poland's territory."
The official reason given for the ban last week was that Polish authorities were not given enough notice to adequately ensure the gang's safety, something Russia's Foreign Ministry labeled a "downright lie" and an "outrage", the BBC reported. The U.S. has also put the Night Wolves on its sanctions list.
Some Russian bikers reportedly made it across the border earlier, but these were apparently members of a non-banned group, according to AP.
The Night Wolves set off from Moscow on Saturday, before making their way through Belarus.
Speaking to the BBC in Moscow on Saturday, one of the bikers said, "I don't think visiting war graves is provocative or aggressive.
"Ours is a friendly visit, and we're unarmed. The most important thing is to visit the graves and do something to tell our grandchildren about."
The group is viewed with suspicion in Poland due to its support of the annexation of Crimea and denunciation of the Ukrainian government, AP said.
In August last year, the Night Wolves' heavy metal re-enactment of the Ukrainian conflict was broadcast live on primetime Russian state TV with Putin's personal seal of approval.
Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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