While 50,000 protested against anti-democratic Moscow council elections, Russian leader Vladimir Putin was riding a Ural sidecar to a bike show.
You can guess which event the Russian TV news led with …
The above “Boss” video is from the Russia Insight supposedly “independent” YouTube channel that has “no affiliation to any government, organisation or company”.
Putin was riding with the Night Wolves Motorcycle Club to their 10th annual Shadow of Babylon international bike show and it looks like he stalls it as he stops.
Meanwhile, about 50,000 people were protesting in the nation’s capital over the Kremlin’s ban on opposition party candidates running in this year’s city council exec elections.
In a not-so-subtle swipe at the protestors, Putin tells the assembled motorcyclist crowd: “I am very happy that such manly and cool lads set an example for the young people in our country and show them how one should treat Russia.”
Putin club associations
Putin has had associations with the Night Wolves for some years and it is believed the club is even funded by the government.
In 2014, the Night Wolves rode to the Ukraine to support pro-Russian protests against the new government and deliver “humanitarian aid” to protestors.
Putin has ridden his Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and Trike with Night Wolves on several, occasions and is a close friend of their leader Alexander Zaldostanov, nicknamed “The Surgeon”.
In 2013, Putin personally decorated Zaldostanov with a state honour after the group helped restore a monument symbolic of Soviet war heroism in the southern city of Volgograd.
In 2011, Putin led a column of the bikers on his Harley at a rally held on a former Soviet warship in the Russian Black Sea port city of Novorossiisk. The club’s aim is to “spread Russian influence around the world”.
Putin is not the only world leader playing politics with motorcycle associations.
While President Donald Trump says he has never ridden nor wanted to ride a motorcycle, last year he entertained members of the “Bikers for Trump” supporters group at his posh golf club in New Jersey.
He tweeted about the event: “I guarantee you everybody that ever bought a Harley-Davidson voted for Trump. I don’t know if you know that. I would have to — they call them bikers for Trump. There’s hundreds.”
At the time he was calling for a boycott on Harley-Davidson because it made some some bikes overseas for world markets.
Interestingly, the New York Times reported that the founder of “Bikers for Trump” sells pro-Trump T-shirts made in Haiti because American-made products cost $8 more.
Another controversial politician with a motorcycle penchant is Indonesian President Joko Widodo who locks up political opponents.
He “starred” in this pre-election promotional video last year.
Are we sensing a common theme here?