15th Aug 2022


Russia's 'Night Wolves' biker gang to face EU ban

  • Biker boss Alexander Zaldostanov (left of centre) in Russia-occupied Crimea in 2019 (Photo: CC BY 4.0)
Listen to article

Pro-Kremlin biker gang the Night Wolves will no longer be able to ride around Europe under new Russia sanctions, which also strike at Sberbank and the mayor of Moscow.

Alexander Zaldostanov, the ageing gang leader, three associates, and the Moscow-registered biker club itself were all added to a draft EU blacklist discussed by ambassadors on Monday (18 July).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin (l) is a 'close associate', the EU said (Photo:

The 69-year old was cited for "actively supporting Russian state propaganda through publicly denying Ukraine's right to statehood and calling for the 'denazification' as well as the 'de-Ukrainisation' of the country", the document, seen by EUobserver said.

One of Zaldostanov's associates, Josef Hambalek, is a Slovak national who is "president of the Europe chapter" of the gang.

And Slovakia will have to freeze his assets and stop Hambalek from crossing into other EU states if the ban is agreed later this week.

The new blacklist targets 47 individuals and eight entities, as well as banning imports of Russian gold.

Most individuals are Russian military commanders and politicians or Ukrainian quislings in occupied territories.

But the list includes Sergey Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, two Russian actors accused of war propaganda (Sergey Bezrukov and Vladimir Mashkov), and a Russian tycoon (Rostech chairman Sergei Chemezov).

It also includes a few relatives of previously-sanctioned Russian oligarchs accused of trying to hide money.

Deripaska moves

In one example, Oleg Deripaska (blacklisted in April) transferred properties in France, Washington DC, and in the exclusive ski-resort of Lech in Austria to his cousin Pavel Ezoubov, the EU document said — but Ezoubov is now also facing an asset-freeze and visa-ban.

The new EU list freezes the European assets of Sberbank — Russia's largest lender.

It bans shipping and arms firms and nationalist groups such as Russia's 'Young Army' youth association and the Russkiy Mir Foundation.

In economic measures, the EU is preparing "to prohibit the direct or indirect import, purchase or transfer of gold, which constitutes Russia's most significant export after energy".

It is also tweaking its previous measures to make clear shipping firms bringing food from Russia to starving markets will not be penalised.

The EU is planning to introduce derogations to "the asset freeze and the prohibition to make funds and economic resources available to designated banks" to "avoid disruptions in the payments channels for agricultural products".

The EU "is committed to avoiding all measures which might lead to food insecurity around the globe" and none of its sanctions cover "trade in agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilisers, between third countries and Russia," its sanctions bill said.

The same goes for medical and pharmaceutical products, it added.

But Europe is also tightening up sanctions implementation.

EU states will have to report to the European Commission which assets they have discovered and frozen six weeks after a new individual or entity is listed, for instance.

The latest sanctions package is the seventh since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The EU previously banned Russian oil and coal, blacklisted most of its banks, and designated hundreds of people including Russian president Vladimir Putin and his family.

The new gold ban falls far short of earlier talk of an EU ban on Russian gas and Gazprombank, the Russian bank which handles gas payments, remains open for business, however.

The latest blacklist also contains few big fish after Hungary recently vetoed the designation of Russia's top priest and war-cheerleader patriarch Kirill.

The Night Wolves used to ride to events in Europe via Poland, causing outrage along the way and occasionally facing local bans.

It has European chapters in Bulgaria and the Western Balkans as well as Slovakia.

Its boss, Zaldostanov, was called a "close associate" of Putin in the EU files.

Zaldostanov also took part in propaganda pageants in Russia-occupied Crimea in 2014 which depicted the West as satanic forces raping Kyiv.


Russia puts EU in nuclear-energy paradox

There's unprecedented international anxiety about the safety of Ukraine's nuclear reactors, but many European countries are also turning to nuclear power to secure energy supplies.

News in Brief

  1. Zelensky vows to 'target' Russian soldiers at nuclear plant
  2. Putin vows greater cooperation with North Korea and Taliban
  3. Hungarian judge slams Orbán's rule-of-law attacks
  4. Borrell condemns 'despicable' Rushdie attack
  5. Slow wind-farm approvals risk green goals, warns industry
  6. Increase in people crossing Channel to UK in 2022
  7. Swedish government to toughen gang-crime penalties
  8. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Germany needs to cut gas use by 20% to stave off winter crisis
  2. Europe's wildfire destruction set to hit new record
  3. How Putin and Erdoğan are making the West irrelevant
  4. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  5. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  6. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  7. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  8. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us