MOSCOW — Russian authorities have initiated criminal proceedings against a Russian ultra-nationalist responsible for several homophobic assaults on LGBT persons, including attacks on citizens from Ukraine, Iraq, and South Africa.
Maxim Sergeyevich Martsinkevich, also known by his street nickname “Tesak” — which translates as “The Cleaver” — has been charged under Part 1 of article 282 of the Russian Criminal Code, Incitement of ethnic and social hatred. The charge is punishable by a sentence of 3–5 years imprisonment.
A spokesperson for Russian federal prosecutors told LGBTQ Nation on Monday that the case against Martsinkevich was initiated after two videos were posted on the internet which depict assault and harassment of citizens of Ukraine and a citizen of Iraq who are alleged to be gay.
Martsinkevich appears in the videos, and is seen forcibly shaving the victims’ heads in reverse mohawk hairstyles, painting rainbow flags in the shaven areas, forcing the victims to perform sex acts with objects, pouring urine on them, and forcing them to make self-denigrating statements to the camera.
In the case of the Iraqi citizen, Martsinkevich is alleged to have sodomized the victim off camera with a police-style baton he displayed for the camera; immediately following, the victim’s screams can be heard in the background.
The Russian Interior Ministry acknowledged Monday that officers conducted a raid and search last Thursday of Martsinkevich’s apartment, and the apartment of his mother, and that an arrest warrant for Martsinkevich has been issued.
Martsinkevich is no stranger to the Russian legal system. In July 2007, he was arrested and then sentenced to three years in prison under the same Criminal Code Article 282, part 1, when, as a leader of the far-right extremist group Format18, he had orchestrated the manufacture and sale of videos with scenes depicting the torture of homeless people and Asian guest workers.
The group also held a “mock” hanging of an alleged drug dealer from the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan.
Martsinkevich was released in December 2010, sometime after which he formed his current group, “Occupy Paedophilia,” which has produced numerous videos on the Russian social media giant VK.com as well as YouTube, documenting the violent and homophobic harassment of men the group claims were seeking to have sex with minor boys.
The graphic videos often go viral and have also been used to humiliate gay teenagers who responded to false dating invitations from what they thought were other gay youth in chat rooms.
Over the weekend, Martsinkevich claimed in a series of posts on his VK page to have allegedly fled Russian territory to avoid the legal charges, posting pictures of himself on a beach in the Koh Chang Tai district in Thailand.
An investigator with ties to the case, speaking confidentially as he was not authorized to comment to the press, told LGBTQ Nation that authorities doubt that Martsinkevich is outside of Russia.
Instead, the investigator said, it is believed Martsinkevich is being assisted by members of his group inside the country to avoid prosecution.