Pro-Putin bikers turned away at Polish border

Pro-Putin bikers turned away at Polish border
A Polish biker, supporter of Russian motocycling group Night Wolves waits for Russian bikers holding a placard with Russina description "Night Wolves welcome" in Terespol, border with Belarus on April 27, 2015.

WARSAW - Ten Russian pro-Kremlin bikers who had planned a controversial WWII victory ride through Europe were on Monday denied entry into Poland at the Belarusian border, Polish border guards said.

Russian bikers including the Night Wolves - a fiercely nationalistic motorcycle club backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin - had planned to cover 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) through Berlarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria before ending in Berlin to celebrate the Soviet Union's role in the World War II victory over Nazi Germany.

The 10 bikers arriving from Belarus did not meet the necessary criteria to be allowed entry into Poland, border guard spokesman Dariusz Sienicki told reporters at the Terespol border post.

He did not elaborate on the reasons for the decision but said that individuals can be denied entry notably for not having identification, a visa or a stated reason for the trip. The bikers' entry requests would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, he added.

The planned rally had sparked anger in Poland, a strong supporter of Ukraine's pro-Western government and formerly under Moscow's thumb during the Soviet era.

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz described the rally as a "provocation," while a Polish Facebook page called on authorities to ban the Russians from the EU.

But the Russian bikers had insisted the rally was not politically motivated, but rather a memorial ride.

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