11:04 GMT11 August 2020
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    Russian Bikers' Victory Day Ride to Berlin (29)
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    Bernd Schade, a German church minister and motorcyclist calling himself the 'Biker Pastor', says that German authorities and media are exploiting a Russian motorcycle club's planned trip to Berlin for Victory day for their own political aims.

    Speaking to Radio Sputnik Germany on Thursday, Schade explained that both local media and the German government are attempting to use the Russian Night Wolves' plans to travel to Berlin to mark the 70th Anniversary of Victory for their own purposes, noting that he has participated in similar outings before in Russia without any problems.

    Bernd Schade, the Biker Pastor
    Bernd Schade, the Biker Pastor

    "I think that this situation is being sharpened in connection with the 'high politics' tension prevailing between West and the East," Schade noted. "I look at this event as a motorcycle parade in honor of the memory of Victory. We welcome the Russian bikers and I do not see anything provocative about their planned route," the biker added.

    Asked by Sputnik about German authorities' statements that they would not allow the Victory ride to take place as a biker parade, Schade admitted that "Berlin authorities have such opportunities and they have already stated that they will intervene, should the action not be permitted as a memorial procession." The biker noted that in the past, similar outings by his group have not had any problems with authorities, since they did everything possible to inform the police about their plans and routes.

    Schade, who organized a bike tour to Russia in 2010 involving 100 German bikers, noted that such cultural exchanges among German and Russian bikers are a regular occurrence, and that they've never caused any problems before.

    "In 2010 we went to St. Petersburg for a biker religious mass. There were about a hundred Germans there. This was during the period of White Nights in the city [a period during the summer when night does not cover the northern city], and so we called our tour the 'White Nights' tour. We created a stir there at first because on the Russian side there arose a question about what German bikers are doing in St. Petersburg on the anniversary of the attack by the Werhmacht on the Soviet Union. We met with about 100 Russian bikers, and together visited both Russian and German military cemeteries. There we laid wreaths and together conducted an Orthodox liturgy."

    Noting that the Russians reciprocated in 2011, visiting Hamburg, Thuringia, and the Seelow Heights, "which are now again an occasion for talk," the biker pastor recalled that at the time "this did not cause any clamor or ill feeling, because the situation was not as polarized as it is now."

    Schade told Sputnik that he will be most interested in observing German bikers' reaction to the Russians being on their turf. "Have the Russians come to an agreement with the Hells Angels and the Banditos? Perhaps there have been contacts and meetings at this level. It's early to speak of friendship, but to say hello and to meet with people is certainly something that can be done."

    The biker noted that in his view, "right now it's very important to get out of a situation of polarization. Bikers have this chance. And I welcome [the Russians] not because they are 'Night Wolves', but because they are bikers. After all, we can reach an understanding on the basis of our common interests."

    Last week, German authorities told German media that they would not be allowing the Night Wolves to conduct their tour through Berlin. Local police noted that they had not received a special request from the motorcycle club to drive through the city as a convoy, adding that this would not be allowed in any case. Nevertheless, the club would be allowed to organize a "modest celebration" while in Berlin as tourists. Police added that the event will be held under police escort.

    About three dozen members of the Night Wolves are planning to participate in a bike tour from Moscow to Berlin celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Soviet victory over fascism. The rally, expected to start Saturday, is set to finish in Berlin May 9, with the bikers laying flowers at the monument for Soviet soldiers in Treptow Park.

    Russian Bikers' Victory Day Ride to Berlin (29)


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    motorcycle rally, motorcycle tour, bike journey, Victory Day, celebrations, bikers, Night Wolves, Bernd Schade, Germany, Russia
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