Extremist Held After Debate
Published: July 6, 2007 (Issue # 1286)
MOSCOW — Authorities have arrested the leader of an ultranationalist group on suspicion of inciting hatred by shouting “Sieg heil” and “Kill the liberals” during a political debate, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Maxim Martsinkevich, 22, has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident Feb. 28 at the Bilingua cafe in central Moscow, City Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Valentina Titova said.
Titova declined to elaborate, but a law enforcement source told Interfax that Martsinkevich, leader of the group Format 18, was arrested early Tuesday morning at his apartment on Rublyovskoye Shosse in western Moscow.
Martsinkevich, who goes by the nickname Tesak, or “Hatchet,” and several other young men flashed Nazi insignias and began yelling “Sieg Heil” and verbally attacking participants at the political debate titled “Where are the Democrats?” witnesses said.
“They were shouting, ‘Kill the liberals,’ but they almost immediately retreated,” said Yulia Latynina, a political commentator and columnist for The St. Petersburg Times, who was participating in the debate. “If they wanted to kill liberals, there were plenty around.”
Martsinkevich, a student at the Russian State Social University, has been charged with inciting hatred and faces up to five years in prison if convicted, Titova said.
Human rights activists have accused authorities of largely turning a blind eye to hate speech by skinheads and other ultranationalists, and apparent racially motivated attacks are often classified as lesser crimes, such as hooliganism.
“I’m very pleased that the prosecutor’s office is arresting fascists,” said Maxim Kononenko, a political satirist and well-known blogger, who also participated in the debate.