Bratislava, Aug 31 (CTK) – Jozef Hambalek, head of the Slovak branch of the Night Wolves Russian nationalist motorcycle club, known for its close relation to President Vladimir Putin, has been fined in Slovakia for unauthorised possession of old military equipment, the aktuality.sk server has reported.
The Economy Ministry imposed a fine of 33,000 euros on him for not having sufficiently informed the authorities about the discarded combat equipment at his base, the server writes.
The Night Wolves base is situated in Dolna Krupa village near Trnava, west Slovakia.
This place has been closely watched by the Economy Ministry in the past few weeks, since Hambalek and his association of voluntary firefighters had transported discarded military equipment there.
After a month of checks, the ministry imposed a high fine on Hambalek. “The reason is that he did not meet the legal duty to inform the ministry about the categories, types and amount of discarded products of the defence industry he owns, including the place where they are stored,” aktuality.sk cites the ministry press section as saying.
Hambalek, who is on friendly terms with former Slovak interior minister Robert Kalinak, has agreed with the fine and asked for an instalment schedule, the ministry said.
The ministerial checks were launched in July. Hambalek brought several pieces of discarded military equipment in the complex some of which were provided by the Military History Institute that falls under the Defence Ministry.
This is also why the ministry dismissed the institute director and demanded that the loaned armoured carriers be returned to it.
Members of the Slovak Conscripts para-military organisation were training in the complex, aktuality.sk writes.
The police were checking the place as well and concluded that Hambalek had committed nothing unlawful, the server adds.
Even murdered investigative journalist Jan Kuciak wrote about Hambalek’s business activities. Kuciak, who was shot dead with his fiancee in his home in west Slovakia in February and whose murder has not been clarified yet, wrote that Hambalek had owed hundreds of thousands of crowns to the state.
However, new Police President Milan Lucansky stood up for Hambalek. Lucansky says Hambalek is rebuilding military carriers into fire trucks they provided for professional rescuers.
The Night Wolves annually stage rides across European countries, including the Czech Republic, on the anniversary of Victory.
In 2016, the Polish authorities banned the Russian bikers from entering the Schengen Area. They avoided the ban by flying to Bratislava.
The Night Wolves’ “European staff” was opened in west Slovakia in June with a Russian Embassy representative attending.
The Slovak authorities do not plan to take steps against this Russian club so far, but the Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed concern about its effort to settle in Slovakia.