Members of the Bulgarian branch of the Russian pro-Putin motorcycle club the “Night Wolves” were among the public at the January 22 inauguration of President Roumen Radev.
“We are here in the capacity of Bulgarian patriots who support a Bulgarian and honorable president,” a member of the club told reporters outside Sofia’s landmark Alexander Nevsky cathedral.
Russia’s Night Wolves are admirers of Putin. Their motorcycle tours of other European countries, including Bulgaria, have caused controversy.
A member of the Bulgarian branch told reporters on January 22 that as there was a Bikers for Trump organisation in the United States, Bulgaria now had a “Night Wolves for Radev”.
“We want to support our president…from him we expect wisdom, correct decisions that are in favour of Bulgaria, not like the previous ones, which were in favour of other countries,” one of the bikers said, wishing Radev health and a long term in office.
Radev, a former air force commander, won Bulgaria’s presidential elections in November 2016 on a ticket that was backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party. He repeatedly has spoken in favour of more conciliatory relations between Bulgaria and Russia, while emphasising that he endorses Bulgaria’s membership of the EU and Nato.
Radev, who as President constitutionally has a role in foreign policy but is not head of government, has emphasised that being pro-EU should not mean being anti-Russian.
Addressing Bulgaria’s National Assembly on January 19 after taking the oath of office, Radev said that intensification of the confrontation between the EU and Nato, on the one side, and Russia, on the other, would not be a solution to the problems.
Radev told Parliament that he believed that the results of the US presidential election and the new political situation in the world “give hope for an accelerated restoration of dialogue”.
(Screenshot via Nova TV)