Everyone knows Vladimir Putin’s government hates gay people. But an increasing number of Russian neo-Nazis think Putin’s gay propaganda ban is not nearly hateful enough.
The most high-profile example is Okkupay Pedofilyay, a group that has almost 75,000 likes on Russian social-networking site VK and is committed to publicly shaming pedophiles in Russia. There’s a rub, of course: These husky fellows consider all gay people pedophiles.
Led, ideologically at least, by skinhead-in-chief Maxim Martsinkevich, the group members post ads for men seeking men, wait for interested guys to show up, then videotape as they humiliate them. They force teens to admit they’re gay on camera. They beat them and pour urine on them. They are Russia’s version of America’s To Catch a Predator, but with serotonin deficiencies and baseball bats. They completely suck as humans.
Martsinkevich did not respond to our requests for comment.
Most instances don’t appear to have direct involvement with Martsinkevich but with regional groups affiliated with his larger organization.
“His followers are mostly poorly educated teenagers that have nothing to do,” says Vitus Media, the board secretary at the Russian LGBT network, a gay rights group. “So they try to makes themselves useful through torture and humiliation. The government needs to tackle this as soon as possible to prevent further violence. Otherwise, this practice could be used to target any ‘undesired’ social group.”
In one video, posted below, a young boy is “bullied, tortured and sprayed with urine in broad daylight,” according to Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, an LGBT rights group in Eastern Europe.
This video features English subtitles. You will have to click that you are over 18 in order to watch (click on the underlined message in Russian).
Hundreds of similar videos exist, and of the dozens viewed by Vocativ, a few feature self-identified adult men coming to meet allegedly self-identified minors. In one video, Martsinkevich and friends catch a man, who is allegedly 27, coming to meet someone he allegedly thought was a 13-year-old. But it’s just too many allegedlys to know anything for sure.
VK founder Pavel Durov, the so-called Mark Zuckerberg of Russia, did not return our calls for comment, but VK did take down the site of one group whose members allegedly murdered one of the teens it had lured on camera.
Maxim's Logo: a crooked thumb
Martsinkevich says he cannot extend his right thumb more than halfway due to having a tendon cut with knife when he was younger. It is the mark of his personal brand. Regional subgroups that use the sign associate themselves not only with Okkupay Pedofilyay but by with Marsinkevich personally.
Martsinkevich, an avowed neo-Nazi, has a formidable following on the social network.
The 29-year-old prefers to be called Tesak, the Russian word for cleaver. Aside from posting Grindr-ready shirtless photos of himself online, his interests primarily seem to include hate-mongering. He is the founder of the ultra-nationalist group Format18. In 2007, the Russian government actually shut down F18 and arrested Maxim “on suspicion of inciting hatred” after he shouted “Sieg heil” and “kill the liberals” during a political debate. The group often posted online videos of their members humiliating political opponents and attacking pretty much everyone who isn’t a straight white racist asshole.
Maxim spent three years in prison, and after his release was quick to return to hate-baiting. A YouTube interview with him in January 2011 went viral, and he has continued to gather followers and fans ever since. Regional Occupy Pedophilia groups have gladly taken up his mantle of violence. When asked about homosexuals, the head of the group’s branch in Kamensk-Uralsk said: “I wish I could kill them, but the government won’t let me.”
Left, translated post from a related VK page: “We started to forget what gay parades are supposed to look like.”
Martsinkevich apparently has a lot of female fans, too. These gals often whisper sweet poetry about Maxim, such as one young woman who wrote: “I want…for Tesak to be given license to kill pedophiles (i.e. gays)! They shouldn’t be allowed to live among us.”
As indicated above, he thinks Hitler was a “good guy.” In a video debate posted on news portal Russian.ru, he says he’s all for democratic elections, just like good ol’ Adolf. He doesn’t like Putin much. He believes the media has dehumanized him, and the entire nationalist movement for that matter. He fancies himself an advocate for political prisoners, like other neo-Nazis and extremist nationalists who have been locked up. His main contribution to society, he believes, is catching pedophiles. And he shows no sign of slowing down.