MOSCOW, June 16 (UPI) -- A flag bearing the emblem of Moscow's Night Wolves motorcycle club is headed for the International Space Station.
Dozens of bikers in the 5,000-member club, a favorite of Russian President Vladimir Putin for its overt patriotism and high-profile pro-Kremlin stance, attempted in May to follow the path of the Soviet Army to Berlin in its westward march at the close of World War II, a 3,700-mile road trip. Traveling with flags of the Soviet Union on their motorcycles, they were turned away at the Polish border.
Alexander Zaldostanov, leader of the club, said cosmonaut Sergey Volkov would take the club's colors to the international space station in the fall.
"The Night Wolves are one of the groups that the Kremlin likes to keep around just in case of trouble," political analyst Marina Litvinovich told the Washington Times. "These groups could become very important for the Kremlin if there are large protests after either the 2016 parliamentary polls or the 2018 presidential elections in Russia, which will be labeled part of a Western plot by the authorities."
Zaldostanov has made no secret of his readiness to defend Russia and the pro-Putin movement, saying, "The West is seeking to destroy Russia, but we will defend our homeland from anyone who wishes it harm."