Germany court: The Night Wolves shall pass

BERLIN -- A Berlin court has overturned an entry ban on a group of nationalist Russian bikers planning to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany 70 years ago by riding their motorcycles through the capital to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

The pro-Kremlin Night Wolves were denied entry by Germany's federal police last month, after criticism on their plans arose and Poland denied them entry.

But a Berlin administrative court ruled Wednesday that wasn't sufficient evidence that the Russians were a threat to public order, domestic security or international relations.

The court therefore ruled that their visas - issued by Italy for free travel within the European Union's border-free zone - are valid for Germany too.

The ruling can still be appealed.

A picture taken on July 24, 2010, shows Vladimir Putin (L), then Russia's Prime Minister, walking side by side with Alexander Zaldostanov (L), nicknamed "the Surgeon", the leader of the group of Russian bikers called the Night Wolves, as they meet Russian and Ukrainian motorbikers at their camp near Sevastopol in Ukraine's Crimea. Getty

Polish authorities said two weeks ago they would ban entry for the group with leaders calling their plans to ride through Poland as part of World War II commemorations a provocation.

Many Poles view the Night Wolves with suspicion because the pro-Putin bikers have rallied against the Ukrainian government and celebrated Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The Night Wolves want to travel across Eastern Europe to honor the Red Army soldiers who died in the Allied defeat of Hitler's Germany, visiting their graves and other war sites. Their aim was to arrive in Berlin for ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on May 8.