Russia is a combative place these days: Putin vs. the gays, xenophobic fascists vs. immigrants. It’s getting hard to keep track. But one man in particular keeps popping up in disturbing stories and videos of anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-minority violence.
His name is Maxim Martsinkevich, and last time we checked in with the poster boy for Russian Neo-Nazism, he was posting videos of him and his gang pouring urine on gay teens throughout the country and encouraging others to do the same. This call to action clearly worked, because now there are more than 500 groups on VK, Russia’s Facebook, purporting to do the same thing—and posting their own video proof.
Now Maxim, a 29-year-old who prefers to be known as Tesak (Russian for Cleaver), is taking his rage campaign on the road, going after gay men in Russia’s southeastern neighbor Ukraine. And he has added a bit of dramatic flair to his repertoire: He now shaves reverse mohawks onto the heads of these scared young men, then paints the bald streak in rainbow colors.
How We Know
While monitoring the Okkupay Pedofilay movement, we saw posts on its social media discussion boards about the incident. Digging deeper, we found more discussion in the comments sections of several Ukrainian news sites.
Martsinkevich, who sports an actual mohawk himself, was reported most recently to have visited Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city. The report, on the Ukrainian news site Segonya, says he was there to give his blessing to a newly formed affiliate fascist group. The site even posted a picture of Tesak and two of his recent victims, whom commentators identified as teenagers. The site contacted lawyer Sergei Pozdnakov, who says he believes the boys have a legal case, even under Russian law, saying the head-shaving and painting is an act of hooliganism, punishable by up to seven years in prison. (We’re not holding our breath waiting for the trial.)
In a disturbing video version of Martsinkevich’s trip abroad, he and his cohorts force the two young men (post-haircut) to slow dance with each other with their shirts off, while Tesak improvises a nice, demeaning, homophobic song. The taller victim is clearly crying.
Here’s the translation of Martsinkevich’s “song.”
“We’ll become butt buddies. Spin, you’re getting on my nerves, you know how to dance and spin around. We’ll spin around in a white dance. And then we’ll become butt buddies. And in the morning we’ll still be together.”
But Martsinkevich need not be present for gay people to be harassed in his honor. Another fascist group in the Russian city of Belgorod that claims to be inspired by Tesak assaulted a 20-year-old black South African by shaving the reverse mohawk and smashing a watermelon into his face. They also tried to get him to have sex with a cat. The 20-year-old thought he was on his way to meet a 15-year-old. These sorts of stings, set up to catch pedophiles, is part of what makes Tesak’s mission so popular—the fact that they also catch and beat gay people who are not pedophiles doesn’t seem to bother anybody.
Martsinkevich is also spreading his wings to “treat” other social ills: immigrants, drug dealers, you name it. In another video posted on VK, we see him and his friends chase down a man who’s just completed a sale of Spice, synthetic marijuana. They beat him to the ground, stand him up, slap and punch him multiple times, rip his shirt off and force-feed him the Spice until he almost chokes. The group of six then spray-paint him until he doubles over, coughing from the fumes. The video continues, switching scenes to Tesak drinking wine calmly in a restaurant.
Martsinkevich’s “philosophy” goes far beyond gay-bashing. He expands on his theories in direct action in a video posted in early November on YouTube titled “Who Benefits From Catching Pedophiles?” The crux: Marches and shows of solidarity are essentially useless. The only way to affect his kind of societal change is to go out and do it. And if this sounds like the ravings of a madman, well, this madman has 126,000 followers just on his personal VK page alone.
If you’re looking to get more depressed, you can check out Restrukt, the name Tesak has given his broader Neo-Nazi movement. There’s even Restrukt Protein, promoting fitness with protein powder and workout pics, like some hyped-up, homophobic and racist version of the products found in GNCs across America.
There are more than 200 community page results related to Tesak, the largest of which is one he organized, Okkupay Pedofilyay, an organization purportedly capturing and shaming pedophiles that has 188,000 followers. (Not surprisingly, they think all homosexuals are pedophiles.) The list of Martsinkevich’s influences is endless: 19 fan pages on VK, also with thousands of followers; countless branches of Okkupay around Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan; and hundreds and hundreds of copycat pages, mostly against Pedofilyay but more than 50 already against Narkofilyay (drugs).
Not that the region needs Tesak to create its own private hell for gays. Just this week, thugs attacked an HIV organizational meetup in St. Petersburg with BB guns and baseball bats, causing enough damage that one of the injured victims is in danger of losing sight in one eye. Polina Adrianova, of the gay rights group Coming Out in St. Petersburg, says she thinks this was “a first of a series of planned attacks” against the LGBT community.
It’s enough to make a Neo-Nazi poster boy proud.