By Matthew A. Lauder*
Contrary to most portrayals by the mainstream media of the Night Wolves Motorcycle Club (MC) as Russia’s equivalent to the Hell’s Angels,1 the organization is not an outlaw motorcycle gang – which implies a rejection of mainstream culture, strict loyalty to the biker club rather than to the state and deep involvement in criminal enterprises.
Rather, the biker image of the Night Wolves is a carefully curated façade meant to provide a semblance of rebelliousness all while the group serves as a tool of the state.2 Moreover, the Night Wolves are just one part of a vast network of non-profit organizations, military associations, and private businesses working at the behest of the Russian government.3
The Night Wolves exemplify a larger trend by the Russian government to outsource activities to non-state actors that are traditionally…
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