Original interview by Agnieszka Piwar published by konserwatyzm.pl; translation by J.Hawk
Western policies are aimed at weakening and destroying our shared history and mutual respect. I believe this is being done for economic and political reasons, says Andrey Bobrovskiy, the director of the “Path to Victory” motorcycle journey from Moscow to Berlin.
–On April 29, you will depart from Moscow to head to Berlin. Your motorcycle raid, like those held in preceding years, is dedicated to the Victory Day which is celebrated in Russia to commemorate the ending of World War II. What is the main purpose of your trip?
–Yes, indeed, April 29 will see the beginning of the annual “Roads to Victory” motorcycle raid, with Berlin being the destination, in order to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the defeat of the fascist hydra by Soviet forces. The price of that victory was enormous–27 million victims. By comparison, the entire population of Poland in 1939 was 35 million. Therefore I believe we have the right to discharge our sacred duty to honor the memory of our ancestors anywhere, at any time–that is our main objective.
I also want to note that our project aims at developing healthy, brotherly ties with all neighbors and countries whose territory we will cross. Those who doubt our good intentions, not just the bikers, will be able to meet us in person and ask any questions they want. We must remember and honor our shared history and work on our relations in the future.
–Last year, the 70th anniversary, you were not allowed into the EU at the Belarus-Poland border crossing even though you had valid visas. The matter ended up in court. You lodged a suit against German authorities’ cancellation of visas for the Russian bikers. And you sued Polish Border Guard for not letting you into the country. What was the outcome of these cases?
–That is correct, last year we were deprived of the opportunity to visit the burial grounds of our ancestors. That was both absurd and vile–even during the war, the enemies didn’t shoot at each other when carrying the fallen off the battlefield. We expected this, though we hoped to the end the authorities would prove reasonable. Every participant was banned. That was not very pleasant, but we also suffered financial losses, all the hotels and events were paid for by individual participants. We won the case against the German authorities. Our lawyers also appealed the Polish Border Guards’ decision, but that case is still ongoing. We are not angry at the Polish people–we realize you are being held hostage by your government, but we have issues with the preceding government, its absurd actions. We hope this situation will not be repeated now that Poland has a new president.
–You have been very popular in Poland since then. The Poles are divided on this issue. Some believe that Poland embarrassed itself by not allowing you in. Others disagree. They don’t like Night Wolves photographing themselves with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. What do you think of that charge?
–We are not seeking that kind of publicity. The Roads to Victory raid has been held before, and the political intrigues have given us extra publicity. It also helped us unite all people who share our views on the territory of entire Europe. Those who support us have also gained in stature. We are not politicians or historians. The Night Wolves are a motorcycle club which has a specific point of view and a stance regarding its own country.
Vladimir Putin is at the moment the unquestioned leader of Russia, an astute politician and a strong personality on the international stage. For the first time in 50 years we have seen a politician under whose leadership the country had begun to revive, and the people now have hope they will be able to live in a strong and prosperous state. There is always a need for an individual who will take the responsibility and govern–be it in the family, the workplace, a city, a country. And if the individual chosen for that spot not only hasn’t disappointed our expectations but exceeded them, why should we avoid him? We are proud of having such a president. We are happy that we can be friends with an intelligent, powerful man who is a patriot of his country. Criticism that’s leveled at him is usually the product of ignorance or lack of understanding of what we are doing. Which is what the Western politicians are trying to achieve.
–I heard many opinions critical of Night Wolves’ participation in the annexation of Crimea. Could you explain what happened in Crimea and your role in it?
–I invited our Polish biker friends to Crimea so that they could draw their own conclusions. But returning to your question–when the people of Crimea saw what was happening in Kiev and saw how the junta was destroying the country, they held a vote to return the peninsula to Russia. From the historical point of view, Crimea never was Ukrainian. I experienced a pleasant surprise there when in 2008 I was going through Kharkov to the Sevastopol Bike Show. I stopped in Melitopol and, standing in line at a pharmacy, I overheard a conversation by two elderly people, veterans. They said they were betrayed and abandoned to Ukraine, and they said it with such a sense of disappointment and pain…That story left a deep impression on me, so when I entered Crimea and saw a Russian flag on every house as a harbinger of change, it made a profound impression on me.
There existed a Night Wolves chapter in Crimea even during the Ukrainian era. When the Crimeans opted for a referendum, it was clear that the Kiev junta would attempt to carry out provocations in order to forestall the vote. Our guys simply prevented violence from breaking out and ensured the citizens were from a threat of violence. They also helped Crimea’s authorities maintain order, in accordance with the law. Now the people of Crimea are content, anyone can find this out for themselves and enjoy a Crimean vacation at the same time. Last year, we have anyone who wanted to the opportunity to travel with us through Northern Caucasus and experience the joys of Crimea for themselves.
–There is one more charge, perhaps one that provokes the greatest emotions. It concerns Night Wolves’ photographs showing club members with Soviet symbols and portraits of Stalin. Many Poles are afraid that you’d cross Poland under such banners. It’s a controversy because to some Poles’ the presence of the Red Army on Polish soil was not a liberation. Naturally, nobody is denying that USSR played the decisive role in defeating the III Reich criminals, but according to some 1945 was not a year of liberation. Are you aware of this historic controversy?
–History does not tolerate one-sided stances, and we leave the assessment of historic events to professional historians. We don’t use Soviet symbols, Communist flags, or other political symbols during our raids. We honor the Banner of Victory, which was covered with blood for the same of many countries’ freedom. We bear it with pride. It is under that banner that 27 million Soviet citizens perished. And we don’t have the right to criticize Stalin, but I know that his era saw the most brutal and bloodiest war of all history. I know that he left behind him a great country. I also know that, in the wake of Yalta and Potsdam conferences, it was Stalin who gave Poland a sizable portion of German territory. It was the Soviet soldiers who liberated concentration camps in which the Germans were mercilessly exterminating the Poles. He also destroyed the Banderite scum who carried out a genocide on the Poles in 1943 in Volhyn.
The Poles can sleep in peace for as long as we are your neighbors. We wish you peace and freedom, and that you govern well the country you inherited. Because now it turns out that you lived in slavery during the Soviet era, but now you are placing the American leash on your own neck with joy–that makes no sense. Russians are not vengeful, we have even preserved the German cemeteries and we understand that not all the Germans were eager to go to Russia to fight–it was a tragedy for many of them. I believe that every country should have its own history, its own traditions and own path. Then everything will turn out all right.
–Our two nations have a painful historic past. The ever-present propaganda is presenting the Russians as Poland’s greatest historic foes. Why do you think they are trying to make us quarrel? Who is behind it?
–We have a saying in Russia: “Better a close neighbor than a distant relative.” Western policies aim at weakening and destroying our common history and mutual respect. I think there are both economic and political reasons at work. In order to make us quarrel and to break the centuries-long ties, one first has to alter history by destroying all the symbols reminding of the great past. Destroying the mutual respect by daily media provocations. Transform small European countries into puppets. But the truth is difficult to conceal and we will do everything to keep it alive. I myself have Polish roots. I can’t imagine us living in enmity, in fear of one another. I have many friends in Poland, they are wonderful people who don’t share the views of Poland’s current rulers’ concerning Russia. Nothing will prevent us from remaining friends.
–I’ll return to the motorcycle club you represent. Media propaganda portrays Night Wolves as bandits, Putin’s gang, communists, etc. But when I checked your web page, I learned you have great respect for Christian values and the Orthodox Church. I think that if the Polish public were to see you up close, many of them would leave with a positive impression. Much of our society is conservative, and is increasingly rejecting the West’s rotten anti-values. Do you see any chance that the Poles and Russians will be able to build something in common on the basis of conservative values?