Alexander Zaldastanov aka The Surgeon pictured at Putin's inauguration.
Alexander Zaldostanov aka The Surgeon is Putin’s leather-clad biker friend (Picture: Alexander Nemenov/EPA)

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as the President of Russia for the fifth term – with a motley crew of guests attending his glitzy ceremony.

The pompous inauguration was boycotted by the US and other Western countries on Tuesday over the war in Ukraine.

But many guests were eager to be seen with the 71-year-old Russian leader despite criticism of his authoritarian antics.

The hand-picked guest list included US actor Steven Seagal and motorcycle gang leader Alexander Zaldostanov known as ‘The Surgeon.’

The Surgeon, called Khirurg in Russian, is the leader of the Night Wolves bikers’ club, a pro-Kremlin group supportive of Putin.

He is known for his homophobic views and admiration of ruthless Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, according to The Telegraph.

Alexander Zaldostanov and the Night Wolves are a familiar sight at patriotic events like Victory Day marked on May 9 (Credits: REUTERS) (Picture: Vitaly Nevar/Reuters)
Inauguration ceremony for Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin
Hollywood actor Steven Seagal arrives for Putin’s inauguration ceremony (Picture: Alexander Nemenov/EPA)
Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov reacts after Russia's President Vladimir Putin inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 7, 2024. (Photo by Maxim Shemetov / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MAXIM SHEMETOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Rumours are circulating over the health of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who came to Putin’s party (Picture: Maxim Shemetov/AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the oath during an inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 7, 2024, in this still image taken from live broadcast video. Kremlin.ru/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
Putin took the oath during his inauguration (Picture: Kremlin.ru/Reuters)

He was spotted arriving at the exclusive inauguration ceremony in the Grand Kremlin Palace, dressed in leather with his recognisable long hair and the gang’s logo on show.

The biker leader is a known friend of Putin’s.

After a bromance that is thought to have started in 2009, Putin awarded Zaldostanov the prestigious Order of Honour state medal which emboldened the biker and his gang as Putin’s unofficial henchmen.

His friendship with the president and support of Russia’s tactics in Ukraine awarded him a place on the Western sanctions list.

Alexander Zaldastanov from the Night Wolves biker gang with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Putin and The Surgeon in Sevstopol in 2019 after riding together (Picture: Alexei Druzhinin/TASS)



Who are the Night Wolves?

Putin has been spotted riding with his biker pals, dressed in leather.

But who are the Night Wolves?

The gang is prominent in Russia, but it has a presence in Europe and Australia through at least 45 chapters.

It was formed in the late 1980s.

Since then, it has become one of the biggest and ‘most infamous’ motorcycle clubs, according to the Guardian.

After the 2014 war broke out in Ukraine, the Night Wolves joined pro-Russian militia to fight in the east of the country, The Telegraph reports.

The group has reportedly received money from the Kremlin worth millions of pounds.

Rolling Stones referred to the group as ‘Putin’s Angels’.

The Surgeon earned his nickname after training and becoming a doctor specialising in post-traumatic face surgery in Soviet Moscow.

Eventually, being a Night Wolf became his full-time job.

In an interview with The Telegraph, The Surgeon suggested he might have given Putin the idea to annex Crimea as he gifted him with letters, photos and calendars from the region every time the pair met.



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Putin has described Night Wolves as his ‘friends’ and he appeared at a rally riding a Harley-Davidson trike, the choice of bike for the group.

The President was pictured on a ride with The Surgeon and other Night Wolves in Crimea in 2019 for the gang’s anniversary.

Putin rode the motorbike without a helmet in a matching black leather jacket and tight jeans.

Putin is known to surround himself with controversial characters, including Seagal, French actor Gerard Depardieu and the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov who is dubbed Putin’s ‘attack dog.’

Putin leading the gang during a club ride in Sevastopol in 2019 (Picture: Sputnik/Reuters)
Vladimir Putin arrives for his inauguration ceremony as Russian president in the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Sergei Bobylev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Putin was sworn in for his next six years in the office (Picture: Sergei Bobylev/AP)

Rumours have been circulating recently claiming Kadyrov is ill with terminal pancreatic cancer.

But the only giveaway suggesting the Chechen warlord might not be fit as a fiddle was his entrance to the Palace as two aides helped the 47-year-old to get out of his coat as he slowly climbed up the stairs.

Putin’s inauguration comes after his landslide victory in March in the election that was labelled a ‘sham’ after the death of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the barring of opposition candidates and the war in Ukraine.

Constitutional changes introduced in 2020 enable Putin to seek two further six-year terms, meaning he could remain in power until 2036.

In Ukraine, the country’s troops recently wiped out 100 Russian troops, although both armies have suffered losses in the devastating war that intensified in February 2022 after the full-scale Russian invasion.

Putin is the second longest-serving leader after Stalin after becoming the country’s leader in 2000.

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