Prague, July 25 (CTK) – Russia’s pro-Kremlin Night Wolves motorcycle club and the Slovak Defenders group are together running a paramilitary base in Slovakia, which is a clear display of a hybrid threat on the part of Russia, Martin Ehl says in Czech daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Wednesday.
The Night Wolves are known for crossing countries with Russian flags on their motorcycles, while the Slovak Defenders (Slovensti branci) have been touring schools in Slovakia to teach children to use a submachine gun. The two groups decided to jointly operate a military museum in Dolni Krupa near Trnava, west Slovakia, where, however, a shooting range and an area for full-track vehicle training are also located, Ehl writes.
The Slovak defence minister “woke up” only after media published a series of photos taken by drones, which showed the Dolni Krupa compound as a well-equipped military base.
A debate has flared up on how much pro-Russian the Slovak society is in a situation where it lets the Night Wolves, a tool of Russian propaganda, establish their European branch in Dolni Krupa and allowes exercises to be held there by Slovak Defenders, a paramilitary group led by Peter Svrcek.
According to Slovak daily Sme, Svrcek was strongly impressed by the Russian military culture and underwent “a Cossack” military training when visiting Moscow at the age of 16.
Following the events in Crimea and East Ukraine in recent years, one wonders at Slovakia, a member of the EU and NATO, allowing projects such as the above one in Dolni Krupa to operate in its territory, Ehl writes.
Either this proves that the Slovak state and its institutions are so weak that they let a big foreign power’s representatives do anything they like in the country, or – which is even a worse alternative – all this is happening with the knowledge of the relevant Slovak authorities.
The Slovak Defenders assert that they cooperate with the Slovak intelligence service and the police.
It is actually no surprise that Jozef Hambalek, head of the Slovak branch of the Night Wolves, is a friend of Robert Kalinak, who was Slovak interior minister in 2006-2010 and from 2012 until this March and, who, like Hambalek, loves motorcycling and runs business, Ehl says.
Whatever the circumstances, the alone revealing of what is hiding in Dolni Krupa behind high walls and barbed-wires means an interesting propaganda victory of the Kremlin – it has made the authorities nervous and undermined many people’s confidence in the institutions of Slovakia as a member of the EU and NATO, quite in accordance with hybrid operations guidelines, Ehl writes.