Originally posted May 19, 2016.
Heavily tattooed Night wolves leader Zaldostanov, known as “the Surgeon,” intends to help “reassert the greatness of the Russian world.” The Night Wolves’ imposing lair in an old Moscow junkyard has all the air of a “Mad Max” movie set.
The Wall Street Journal understatedly informs readers, “The Night Wolves are no ordinary motorcycle club. They’re Russian nationalists in biker gear who have been a powerful force for whipping up pro-Kremlin sentiment. And they have an important patron in President Vladimir Putin.”
Will Wright of ReadRussia.com writes of Zaldostanov:
The public face of the club is Alexander Zaldostanov, who has been its leader since 1989. Zaldostanov, better known as “the Surgeon,” was once actually a surgeon. He worked at a prestigious institute specializing in post-traumatic facial reconstruction. Zaldostanov’s nickname also has to do with his skill at knife fighting, rumor has it.
Zaldostanov was born in Ukraine and spent part of his childhood in Crimea before studying medicine in Moscow. Despite his professional success in the 1980s, Zaldostanov gravitated toward the Moscow underground, riding around the city at night on a Czech-made motorcycle. “I had a parallel life… negative for the government, for the police,” Zaldostanov told Vice News in a recent interview. “I was in the opposition then. We had our own club, and I was a constant participant in fights.”
As the Night Wolves grew into a major association following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Zaldostanov steered his club in a different direction than infamous criminal motorcycle gangs in the West, such as the Hells Angels. “We’re ready to fuck someone up, but not because of some drugs or something. We have different values. We’re for the motherland,” Zaldostanov explained to Vice News.