Accessibility links

Breaking News

'Suicide Note' Found In Mouth Of Antigay Ultranationalist Who Died In Russian Prison, Investigators Say

Maksim Martsinkevich, also known as "Tesak" (Machete), was sentenced to 10 years in prison on robbery and hooliganism charges in 2018.
Maksim Martsinkevich, also known as "Tesak" (Machete), was sentenced to 10 years in prison on robbery and hooliganism charges in 2018.

MOSCOW -- Investigators say they found a "suicide note" in the mouth of a notorious Russian antigay ultranationalist, Maksim Martsinkevich, whose death in September sparked allegations of foul play.

A lawyer for Martsinkevich's family, Aleksei Mikhalchik, said on December 3 that the late ultranationalist's father had received an official letter from the Investigative Committee noting that his request to launch a probe into his son's death had been rejected as the written message found in his son's mouth proved that the death was a suicide.

According to the Investigative Committee, the message was written on a piece of paper wrapped in plastic. In the note, Martsinkevich wrote that he had nothing to do with unspecified murders that he had confessed to and which he had testified about against his former associates.

Martsinkevich's parents have alleged that their son was killed or driven to suicide and filed a police complaint over his death in an attempt to have it fully investigated.

The Investigative Committee twice has refused to launch a probe since Martsinkevich was found dead in a solitary confinement cell in the west-central Russian city of Chelyabinsk in mid-September.

The committee said at the time that its investigators found two other suicide notes in Martsinkevich’s belongings addressed to his girlfriend and his relatives.

The previous decisions not to launch a probe were canceled by the Investigative Committee's Investigative Directorate for unknown reasons.

The 36-year-old was a leader of the neo-Nazi group Format 18 and known by his nickname, Tesak (Machete).

Officials have hinted that he may have been driven to suicide by a confession in connection with ethnically charged killings in the mid-2000s, for which Martsinkevich faced a possible life sentence.

Martsinkevich had since said in prison that he had abandoned his neo-Nazi views.

In addition to his Format 18 activities, Martsinkevich founded a homophobic group called Occupy Pedophilia whose aim was to "cure" homosexuals.

Russian authorities opened an investigation against him after several videos showing Martsinkevich and his followers humiliating and beating gays circulated on the Internet in 2013.

Martsinkevich fled to Cuba but authorities there arrested him for a visa violation in January 2014 and repatriated him to Russia.

In late December 2018, a court in Moscow found Martsinkevich guilty of robbery and hooliganism and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Before that, Martsinkevich had been convicted three times on extremism charges.

Kremlin critics have said the government used Martsinkevich's group to counter opposition protests.

With reporting by RIA Novosti and TASS

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.