Night Wolves: Putin’s death squad

Ночные Волки 1It is the time to finally debunk the myth about the peaceful character of the Night Wolves (Nochnye Volki) organisation. Analysing the connections of the Wolves in Russia and Western Europe, we discovered a network of organisations that brings together hundreds of people ready to fight in any condition and capable of using many types of weapons, trained in the most brutal styles of martial arts. The tentacles of the structure seem to have been built for years, and extend into many countries. This is more than just a structure based on a motorbike club and the love of two wheels, as it goes beyond what is imaginable for an average Polish or EU citizen – experts warn.


Continuing in Poland is a festival of coaxing the population into the acceptance of the "Paths of Glory Rally" organised by Russian nationalists, to reach Berlin via Minsk, Brest, Wrocław, (allegedly also Warsaw), Oświęcim (Auschwitz), Brno, Bratislava, Vienna, Munich, Prague, Torgau, and Karlshorst. The common message is that "all bikers are a family", and that the Night Wolves – Vladimir Putin’s favourite gang – are actually sheep on two wheels. Playing the first fiddle in such rhetoric are both leaders of marginal political groupings (pro-Russian Zmiana [Change] party, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Grzegorz Braun), social activists (Wiktor Węgrzyn, organiser of the so-called Katyń Rally, declaring nothing less than protection for the Russian rally), and ordinary people, frequently ignorant of how serious the situation is (or pretending such ignorance).


The holding of the Wolves


The Night Wolves are, in addition to members of the International Alliance of Assault Forces, part of the "Wolf" Holding of Security Structures. Its core, however, is a security agency with the same name. Its head is Gennady A. Nikulov, a military man connected to the structures of power since Soviet times, and who was recently awarded a medal for the "recovery of Crimea" by the Russian Ministry of Defence. The Wolf Holding has called the establishment of the motorbike club, which is about to enter Poland, a great reason to be proud.


volk logoThe logo itself leaves no room for illusions: everything revolves around the same people.


The company offers detective services, armed and unarmed protection of buildings and premises, property in transit (also in their own armoured vehicles), and the installation and monitoring of tracking systems. The website also includes an offer of "conducting control in offices, with the use of a lie detector".


The structure of the holding shows that the Assault Alliance and the Night Wolves are autonomous structures, reporting directly to Nikulov. Besides them, there are several other departments, from "special preparation" and protection to human resources and finance. Importantly, the department of "protection" has its branches, besides Moscow, Tver, and Volgograd, in the so-called Novorossiya (the Donbas region in Ukraine under the control of pro-Russian separatists - editor’s note). This is significant as the security agency organised among others, the Self-defence of Sevastopol, whose line-up includes Alexander Zaldostanov - the leader of Night Wolves.


International "Wolf" production centre


This, however, is not the end of "the Wolf business". Another organisation, directly connected to a member of the board of Wolf Holding is the Wolf International Centre for Special Training. In this case, even the logo of the school is an identical twin of the logo of the rally that intends to cross Poland in a few days to reach Germany.

wolki 1


The website of the Wolf International Centre for Special Training informs that it conducts training in Sistema martial arts (created for the needs of Russian special services) with training including knife tactics, psychological and technical training, and special training for security and military personnel. Once this is combined with weapons training, one can achieve the full set of "skills" as a Wolf graduate. Training also takes place in difficult conditions (winter) and /or in an environment that simulates war. It seems that the brain behind the Centre is Denis Ryauzov, a Russian and a graduate of a course in assault combat at one of Russia's military institutions of higher education. He is the one who runs training all over the world: in Germany, Switzerland, Serbia, Italy, Hungary, and obviously in Russia. Denis Ryauzov is at the same time a member of the highest management of the Wolf Holding company. He trains representatives of special forces, police, and army, as well as civilians.


"Wherever we are, Russia is there too"


Another interesting phenomenon, besides the schools of martial arts, is that there areposters night wolves motorbike clubs in Western Europe that are connected to the Night Wolves. For example, the Swiss branch of the Night Wolves has its seat in Regensdorf, a district of Zürich. РусскиѢ Мотоциклисты Switzerland (Russian Bikers – Switzerland) boast connections to both the people running the martial arts school and Russian bikers. They pose for photographs in Crimea and in a bar that belongs to the Russian Night Wolves – the same in which the members of the Katyń Rally were once partying. They also have their branch of the Sistema school and announced their participation in the Raid on Reichstag – the final of the motorbike rally planned for May 9th in Berlin and other "jaunts" accompanying it to commemorate the 70th anniversary of ending the Second World War.


But this is not the end. The plans we uncovered prove that participants in the rally across Poland include bikers from a number of European countries (the Night Wolves have their branches in the West), also ones not recognised by the international community. For example, getting ready to enter Poland are bikers from Dagestan: the Black Eagles, a twin of Night Wolves. Its members do not conceal their support for the policy of Vladimir Putin, either. "We are of different nationality, yet the most important is that we consider ourselves Russian bikers", as it is written on their website. It is easy to find clips on the internet in which they parade either with the flag of “Novorossiya” as Kremlin propaganda refers to the eastern rebel parts of Ukraine, or with banners speaking of liberation of Crimea. “They are highly watchful and hardly talkative. When I talked to their leader, he maintained that there are 'problems with visas'", Paweł Bobołowicz, a Ukrainian correspondent of Wnet Radio, investigating the case together with us, explained. "He claims that the question of the visas may render their visit impossible, yet it is evident that they too intend to enter Poland", he adds. A testimony to who the people gathered around this company are can be the fact that their rallies attract people from Abkhazia, Novorossiya, and Southern Ossetia. "None of these 'countries' is recognised by Poland", Bobołowicz remarks.


Jarosław Podworski, a Polish biker, organiser of humanitarian aid for Ukraine, a member of the Pokolenie (Generation) Association, and organiser of the opposition against the Night Wolves rally across Poland commented that:


"The connections of the Night Wolves are highly suspicious, it is not only a structure based on the motorbike club and the love of two-wheels, as it goes beyond a framework comprehensible for an average Polish or EU citizen. The construction of power structures based on combat systems and also the use of weapons, the teaching of 'black' or 'green' tactics is the prologue to setting up groups that can provide an aggressor with resources in the future. Links between these groups point to a single direction – the East. The philosophy of martial arts and military discipline build closely-knit teams of 'faithful soldiers'. Various other factors, including social engineering and manipulation may additionally control the attitudes of people trained in this way. In the Islamic State it is religion, and in this case – it may be the vision of Russia’s 'Messianic' role among people who perceive a different order of the world and who subscribe to different values. Our concept of war boils down to what happened 70 years ago. Now war looks entirely different. Crimea was an example."


Wojciech Mucha is a Polish journalist with Gazeta Polska.


The article was written in co-operation with Paweł Bobołowicz, a correspondent of Radio Wnet in Ukraine.