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NEWS 26 Jan 18

Putin's Bikers Invite Bosnian Serb Chief to Party

The head of the Russian motorcycle club known for its close ties Vladimir Putin has invited the pro-Russian Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik to their summer bike-show.

Danijel Kovacevic
BIRN
Banja Luka
Milorad Dodik. Photo: Anadolu

The controversial Russian motorcycle club, the Night Wolves, known for its close ties to President Vladimir Putin, has invited the president of Bosnia's mainly Serbian entity to their annual party in Sevastopol, in annexed Crimea.

The bike show is scheduled for August 17.

It remains “unknown whether Dodik will accept the invitation”, a source from Dodik's cabinet told BIRN.

In the letter of invitation, the chief of the Night Wolves, Alexander Zaldastanov, aka "The Surgeon", thanked Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik for a medal he received on January 9, on Republika Srpska Day, in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of the entity.

“Allow me to thank you for the honour you have shown me, granting me the recognition - the Award of Honor with the Golden Flames. Although, if someone follows your way of life and work as president, this greatest recognition should be given to you," Zaldastanov wrote.

Dodik awarded the Russian Motorcycle Club for its alleged “emphasis on ... human rights, tolerance among people, the rule of law and freedom and the strengthening of friendly relations between the Russian Federation and the RS”.

The award was taken by one of the members of the club, since Zaldastanov was not in Banja Luka that day.

In the letter to Dodik, Zaldastanov calls Dodik “the son of the true, deep Serbia” whose goal is to “establish the unity of peoples, after which, finally, will be the long-awaited revival”.

The Night Wolves are the largest motorcycle club in Russia but the club also boasts thousands of members across Eastern Europe, including Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia.

It enjoys close relations with the Russian president who often attends their gatherings.

In December 2014 US Treasury Department blacklisted the Night Wolves and

"The Surgeon" because its members served in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea and took part in storming a natural gas facility and the naval headquarters in Sevastopol.

Since January 2017, Dodik has been on the same list.

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