On September 16, 2020, a well-known neo-Nazi activist Maxim “Tesak'” (“The Hatchet”) Martsinkevich was found dead in a pre-trial detention center in the city of Chelyabinsk.
On September 16, 2020, the media reported that Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich, the leader of the ultra-right “Restrukt” movement, had committed suicide in a pre-trial detention facility in the city of Chelyabinsk. It was also reported that Martsinkevich had left a suicide note in which he bade farewell to his family and said that he did not want to get the administration of the pre-trial detention facility in trouble. The note ends with the words “Forgive me”.
According to Martsinkevich’s lawyer, on the way to prison, in Krasnoyarsk, the nationalist was placed into a so-called “pressure cell”, where he was coerced into confession of serious crimes, including, according to some reports, murders. This includes the 2007 murder of natives of Tajikistan and Dagestan, captured in the infamous video “Execution of a Tajik and a Dagestani”. The lawyers intend to seek an investigation into the death of their client.
Oleg Shultz, a relative of the nationalist, expressed doubts that Martsinkevich could have committed suicide.
Maxim Martsinkevich’s career as a Nazi skinhead began in the 90s, when he joined the then famous skinhead group “Russian Goal” led by Semyon Tokmakov and was for some time a member of the neo-Nazi People’s National Party. He gained notoriety in the mid-2000s as a founder of the ultra-right group Format-18 Creative Studio ‘ in 2005 (recognized as extremist in December 2010 by the decision of the Moscow City Court). Format-18 specialized in the production and distribution of videos of attacks and torturing of the homeless and migrants from Central Asia and the South Caucasus by neo-Nazi skinheads. Some of the videos were staged, others contained real scenes of ultra-right violence, such as mass beatings of persons with "non-Slavic appearance" on suburban trains or in the streets by neo-Nazi skinheads. In addition to producing their own videos, Format-18 held video contests, encouraging local right-wing groups from all over the country to submit their materials. Many of the videos made by both members and fans of the group were posted online and provided Format-18 and its leader with visibility and wide recognition both in neo-Nazi circles and beyond. It is fair to say that Format-18 popularized the genre of “videos of beatings” and thus contributed to the expansion of racist violence.
At the same time, Tesak was close to the National Socialist Society (NSO), the then largest neo-Nazi organization that later became infamous for a series of murders, and especially to one of its two leaders – Sergey "Malyuta" Korotkikh.
Martsinkevich’s first arrest was for a nationalist provocation at the Bilingua club in February 2007. At that time, the club hosted political debates between journalists Yulia Latynina and Maxim Kononenko. Suddenly, between 15 and 20 NSO and Format-18 activists led by Martsinkevich turned up at the club. Martsinkevich demanded a microphone and, when the host refused, started yelling, “Negroes... we have killed and will continue to kill” and threatened to “hang all liberals”. His companions, who positioned themselves on the balcony and in the aisle, supported their leader with a several-minute chant of “Sieg Heil!” and a throwing up of their hands in a Nazi salute. For this provocation, Martsinkevich was sentenced to three years in prison in 2008.
In 2009, he got his second conviction, this time for producing and publishing a video online of a staged hanging of a “Tajik drug dealer”.
Martsinkevich was released on December 31, 2010 and went on to found the “Restrukt” movement and engage in new “projects”, including webinars on shoplifting and setting up of his own financial pyramid scheme.
Martsinkevich is most famous for his “pedophiles hunting” project “Occupy Pedophily' [a rhyming title, 'Occupy' imported from English, mocking Occupy Wall Street and the local Occupy Abbai opposition protest camp]”: a young-looking member of the group would pose online as a minor (at least, so the nationalists themselves claimed) , correspond online with adult men, and agree to hook up. The fake “teenager” would then show up to dates accompanied by other Restrukt activists and attack the men, shooting everything on video. The nationalists would insult and beat their victims, shave their heads, douse them with urine, force them to kiss rubber dildos, etc. It is unknown whether all the victims really believed they were going on a date with a minor or the nationalists just so claimed. In reality, what this was about hunting down gay men, at least in the view of many participants and their sympathizers.
Martsinkevich and his followers posted their videos online, calling it a fight against pedophilia. The project was financed by donations from those who believed such activities to be a noble cause. Additionally, Martsinkevich sold “tickets” to those wishing to participate in a “pedophile hunt” (the word “safari” was used more often) and organized paid lectures.
In addition to “Occupy Pedophily”, Restrukt had other similar projects, such as “Occupy Narcophily” (hunting down drug dealers), “Occupy Evict” (hunting down residences of illegal migrants), “Occupy Alkophily” (hunting down dealers who were selling alcohol to minors), and “Occupy Gerontophily” (hunting down young males offering sex for money). In the vast majority of cases, the Occupiers’ victims did not contact the police, and the videos made by the perpetrators contained no scenes of beatings or robberies; although these clearly took place, they were more or less carefully edited out of the videos.
In December 2013, Martsinkevich’s activity drew the attention of law enforcement agencies yet again. When a new criminal case was opened against him, he was in Ukraine, where he had founded a local analogue of the Russian “Occupy Pedophily” project “Golubyatnya Get! [Out with the Pigeons = wordplay implying "Homosexuals Out"]”. At the end of December, Tesak fled to Cuba but was deported to Moscow at the end of January 2014. In August 2014, Martsinkevich was sentenced to 5 years in prison (the sentence was later reduced to 2 years and 10 months) for posting the clip titled “Throw out the chur'kas [wood logs = derogatory term for Asian and Caucasian migrants]! Election campaigning!” and two other videos with calls to violence in social networks. But the main activity of Restrukt remained beyond the focus of the investigation; the police was simply doing operational work on the group.
In June 2017, a new sentence was handed down to Tesak in connection with the activity of the “Occupy Narcophily” project. The court found him guilty of robbery, hooliganism, deliberate destruction of property, and incitement to racial hatred. The charges against him and other project participants were based on at least eight attacks on alleged drug traffickers. One of them, a native of Tajikistan, was beaten and Tasered by Martsinkevich and his companions, they tore his shirt, spray-painted his trousers, took his money and phone, and forced him to eat a smoking blend. The video of the attack was later posted online. Taking into account the time not yet served on the previous sentence, the court sentenced Martsinkevich to 10 years in prison. In May 2018, the Moscow City Court overturned the conviction and requested another hearing, but in December 2018, Tesak was again sentenced to 10 years.
On October 17, 2019, the Syktyvkar City Court of the Komi Republic granted Martsinkevich’s request and released him from criminal liability for three charges under Part 1 of Article 282 of the Criminal Code in 2014, due to the decriminalization of Part 1 of Article 282. On these grounds, the last sentence Tesak had received was reduced from 10 to 8 years in prison. Additionally, due to changes in legislation, Martsinkevich could no longer be considered a recidivist at the time of the last sentence, and therefore, starting from May 2015, each day of his detention in the pre-trial detention facility counted for a day and a half. Thus, it is estimated that he would have been released in May 2021, had he not been charged with new allegations.
Judging by the published video of the last meeting with the lawyer, however, new charges were inevitable.