The Anti-Maidan movement addressed the upper house Committee for Constitutional Legislation, saying the activities of the clubs “that name themselves Hells Angels and Bandidos” are already banned in many countries and suggesting that Russia follow suit. The address also said members of these clubs were violating Russian laws and that they were among active participants of violent events on the Independence Square in Kiev that led to the change of government in Kiev, and eventually to the military conflict in the southeast of Ukraine.
The Russian activists warned that bikers from the two clubs can be used as the main physical force in an attempt to launch a ‘color revolution’ in Russia.
The ‘Anti-Maidan’ movement was founded in January 2015 in Moscow by a group of social activists to counter the ‘color revolutions’ that they believe could pose a threat to Russia’s security and its very existence. The name is derived from the Ukrainian word Maidan, which originally meant ‘city square’, but is now being used to describe anti-government protests seeking regime change.
The address to the Federation Council was signed by two anti-Maidan leaders – politician and writer Nikolay Starikov and Aleksandr Zaldostanov, the head of the openly pro-Putin Russian Night Wolves motorcycle club. Last year Zaldostanov and his club were included in the US and EU sanctions lists over their alleged role in the reunification of Russia and Crimea (the Russian bikers held several festivals in Sevastopol both before and after this event).
On Thursday, Russian Senator Andrey Klishas asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to launch a probe into the activities of Hells Angels and Bandidos so that the authorities could make a decision about whether to recognize them as undesirable.
Russian business daily Kommersant on Friday published an interview with a Russian member of the Hells Angels MC presented as ‘Ivan the Hippo’, who blasted Zaldostanov’s address as complete lies and “behavior not worthy of a gentleman.” He also suggested that the real motive behind the motion could be competition between Hells Angels and Night Wolves.
The bill on undesirable foreign organizations was introduced in Russia in late May this year. The new law allows the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Foreign Ministry to create a proscribed list of “undesirable foreign organizations,” making the activities of such groups in Russia illegal. The main criterion for putting a foreign or international NGO on the list is a “threat to the constitutional order and defense capability, or to the security of the Russian state.”
Non-compliance with the ban is punishable by administrative penalties, and for repeated and aggravated offenses can carry prison sentences of up to six years. Russian citizens and organizations that continue to work with banned groups face administrative fines only.
In July, the Federation Council made up the list of first 12 undesirable foreign organizations that include the National Endowment for Democracy, the Soros Foundation, Freedom House and other major US-sponsored groups as well as two Ukrainian organizations. In comments Russian officials said that the list would be further expanded.