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Poland Denying Entry To Pro-Putin Motorcyclists

Aleksandr Zaldostanov, leader of the Night Wolves biker group, takes part in a commemoration ceremony for soldiers killed during WWII at the World War II memorial in Sevastopol, Crimea, on March 17.

Poland has said it will not allow a large group of Russian motorcyclists to enter European Union territory for a planned ride from Moscow to Berlin to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said on April 24 it had notified the Russian Embassy in Warsaw that it was denying entry to the motorcyclists, including members of the Night Wolves motorcycle club that is backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it was "indignant" at the Polish decision, accusing Warsaw of employing a "pretext" and "a blatant life."

The Night Wolves, which draw support from the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church, planned to ride through Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria to reach Berlin on May 9.

But the plan has sparked protests in Poland, which was invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union at the start of World War II under a secret protocol of a Nazi-Soviet Pact that the Kremlin now calls a falsification of history -- the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

Washington announced sanctions against the Night Wolves in December after reports that its members had served in an armed group in Ukraine and took part in storming a natural-gas facility and the naval headquarters in Sevastopol.

But the Night Wolves have not been formally blacklisted by the EU.

"Under a pretext of 'providing late the insufficient information' about the ride the Polish authorities disrupted this commemoration event. It is a blatant lie," the Russian Foreign Ministry said, according to TASS. It said the necessary information had been supplied "fully and timely."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and TASS