Pro-Putin bikers defy bans, ride to Berlin for WWII anniversary

A Russian biker shows a banner depicting Joseph Stalin and reading a WWII slogan “For the Motherland! For Stalin!” in Moscow on April 25, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/Dmitry Serebrayakov)

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — Dozens of bikers from pro-Kremlin gang the Night Wolves on Saturday set off on a ride to Berlin ahead of the anniversary of Soviet victory in World War II, despite Poland and Germany barring the riders.

The bikers gathered Saturday morning in a Moscow suburb to launch the ride to Berlin, planned to retrace the 6,000-kilometer (3,730-mile) march of Soviet troops through Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria.

The Night Wolves’ long-haired, heavily tattooed leader Alexander Zaldostanov led a column of bikers waving red flags with portraits of Stalin and the wartime slogan “For the Motherland! For Stalin!” out of the gang’s clubhouse in northwestern Moscow…