Tesak has first caught public attention as a white power skinhead and the leader of the far-right youth group Format 18, which has been described as the "armed wing" of the National Socialist Society.
There are numerous branches within Martsinkevich's Restruct, the most prominent of which is Occupy Pedophilia, claiming that its goals are fighting pedophiles and spreading National Socialist views among youth. Tesak's violent approach and targeting of gay males have been criticized, although his actions have led to the imprisonment of a highly ranked official within the Russian judicial system.
Martsinkevich has received three prison sentences for inciting racial or ethnic hatred. In 2007, Tesak was indicted for the first time, after disrupting political debates by performing the Nazi salute and yelling "Sieg Heil!" at the Bilingua club in Moscow. In 2009, he was sentenced to three years for making a video with racist content. Martsinkevich's memories from this time in prison have been expressed through his book Restruct. After getting out of prison, Tesak has been unemployed, made vlogs and made a living by charging others for joining his "hunts for pedophiles" and for attending his lectures about life in prison, ways of shoplifting, as well as other subjects. In the autumn of 2013, Tesak was indicted again for releasing new videos featuring racist remarks. As the result, on 15 August 2014, he was sentenced to five years in prison. On 11 November 2014, the court reduced the sentence to two years and 10 months.
On 27 June 2017, the Babushkinsky district court of Moscow sentenced Martsinkevich to ten years in a strict regimen corrective labor colony for his involvement in attacks targeting synthetic cannabinoids dealers.
According to Maxim Martsinkevich, he is of Russian, Polish, Lithuanian and Belarusian ancestry. His parents are Sergey Yevgenyevich Martsinkevich and Viktoriya Leonidovna Martsinkevich. As expressed in Tesak's first autobiographical audio book "Destruct", his mother doesn't share her son's extremist views while his father is supportive. In a September 2012 interview to the Russian online newspaper Lenta.ru, Martsinkevich said he's not married and he doesn't have children.
Maxim has been conscripted into the Russian Army, although he claims that he was released after a few days, following a mental health evaluation caused by him having beaten up a fellow soldier of Azerbaijani ancestry. Tesak's nickname is related to his interest in knives. He has graduated from a secondary vocational school for architecture and been expelled from the Russian State Social University. Martsinkevich has said he had been employed as an engineer for three and a half years. He has also sold videos and tried to sell music through his website.
Tesak has been a member of the white power skinhead group "Russian Purpose" led by Semyon Tokmakov. Martsinkevich has also been in the People's National Party until 2003. In 2005 he founded the skinhead organization "Format 18". The number 18 is a code or euphemism for "Adolf Hitler", as the letter A is the first in the Latin alphabet and H is the eight. Members of Format 18 have been beating up Asian migrant workers and homeless people, filming the attacks and releasing the videos through the Internet. Martsinkevich has also made fictional videos promoting hatred towards black people and antifascists. The Russian Reporter magazine has published a story about one of the videos, in which "Martsinkevich shocks the public with his video of the execution of a "Tajik drug dealer" hanged and dismembered by people dressed as members of the Ku-Klux-Klan", "soon revealed to having been staged, and the flesh of the dismembered captive turned out to be beef". Martsinkevich and other members of Format 18 have also appeared on the British television show Ross Kemp on Gangs: Russian neo-Nazis, as well as on Current TV's From Russia with Hate.
The organization has maintained a website which was banned in 2007 after a complaint from one of the authors for an antifascist site. A number of followers of Format 18 have also uploaded their own videos of humiliations and physical violence. The most recognized video of that kind has been described as the "execution of a Tajik and a Dagestanian", released in August 2007, with Martsinkevich already being incarcerated. The Investigative Committee of Russia has made a statement indicating that the executions shown in the videos have been verified as real.
Format 18 was banned for extremism by a Russian court order in September 2010.
Actions of the neo-Nazi organization Format 18 have inspired Russian director Pavel Bardin to create the drama Russia 88. The movie is about a gang of skinheads that get entertained by filming their beatings of people of non-Slavic appearance, to be released on the Internet. One of the publicly available Format 18 videos called "Dacha History X" features an old woman (played by one of the skinheads) that hates black people and her grandson that buries them in the garden. A similar event takes place in the movie Russia 88. Among other similarities, the main character of the film is nicknamed Shtyk (Bayonet), and like Tesak, he takes a camera and films Russians when asking for their opinion on immigrants from the Caucasus and Asia.
On 28 January 2007 Martsinkevich and his friends visited the club Bilingua in Moscow. At the time, the club was used as a platform for the political debates involving journalists Yulia Latynina and Maxim Kononenko. Tesak asked if they agreed that in order for Russia to improve, every democrat needed to be killed, then shouted "Sieg!" and put his hand up in the Nazi salute, followed by his friends yelling "Heil!". The shouting continued for a few more minutes, with a number of girls yelling "fascism will not pass!" in response. Kononenko suggested to call the police, as performing Nazi salutes in public places was prohibited in Russia. The police wasn't called. Eventually, the host of the debates Alexey Navalny has submitted a letter to the Russian public prosecutors' office.
On 2 July 2007 about 10 members of a Russian anti-extremist special forces unit arrested Martsinkevich at a gym he had used for training. On 18 February 2008 Tesak was sentenced to three years in prison for inciting ethnic or racial hatred (article 282 in Russia). Newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an opinion saying that the investigators have ignored the worst cases of the neo-Nazi's criminal activity, leading to a mild punishment.
In 2006, 20 people dressed as members of the Ku-Klux-Klan staged the execution of a Tajik drug dealer, filming and releasing it on the Internet. The organizers of the performance were Maxim Martsinkevich and Artyom Zuev. Zuev also provided the voice-over for the video.
For these acts, on 16 January 2009 Tesak was charged with inciting ethnic hatred and received a sentence of three years in prison. The court has given credit to the prisoner's good conduct and adjusted the sentence to three and a half years in prison starting from the first conviction. Artyom Zuev has received a suspended sentence of three years.
Martsinkevich was released on 31 December 2010. Half a year later he attempted to join the Russian Opposition Coordination Council and has been registered as a candidate for the elections but has been disqualified for his neo-Nazi views and lack of opposition to the Russian government, with the latter partly related to his application fee having been paid by a member of the pro-government youth movement Nashi.
After getting out of prison Martsinkevich has started the Occupy Pedophilia (Russian: Оккупай-педофиляй) movement focused on beating up and humiliating males regarded as pedophiles. Members of the movement find victims through the Internet, pose as male minors, and go on a date. A group of people then meet the victim and humiliate him, sometimes pouring urine over his head, while filming it to release online.
In September 2013 the media have begun to report on one of Tesak's videos recorded in an apartment in Moscow, resulting in the arrest of the ex-deputy chief of the Federal Bailiffs' Service of the Moscow region Andrey Kaminov. Tesak's victim was charged with committing obscene sexual acts towards a minor.
Martsinkevich describes Occupy Pedophilia as a "social project aimed at promoting National Socialism, looking into the essence of liberal views and attracting society's attention to this issue". In order to take part in a "hunt for pedophiles" often described as a "safari" by members of the movement, one is required to pay a certain amount of money to Tesak.
As of December 2014, over 220,000 people have followed the official page of Occupy Pedophilia on VK.com.
Activists of the movement and Tesak in particular have been criticized by the media for vigilantism, violence, and connections to another branch of Martsinkevich's Restruct movement called Occupy Gerontophilia (Russian: Оккупай-геронтофиляй), which targets young males allegedly interested in dates with older same-sex partners. Actions of members of both of the branches have also been described as campaigns against LGBT people, with one Occupy Pedophilia local group leader saying that "practically all gay men [are] pedophiles".
A new criminal charge against Tesak has been filed in the autumn of 2013. Fleeing from prosecution, Martsinkevich traveled to Cuba through Belarus, planning to keep making new videos.
In December 2013 he was convicted in absentia for extremism based on a court decision in Moscow. The reason behind that was the publication of three YouTube videos featuring Tesak. Two of the videos are his reviews of the Russian movies Stalingrad and "Okolofutbola", with racist remarks, while the third one criticizes all the candidates of the Moscow mayoral elections and suggests to throw out immigrants in order to improve the city. Videos related to the "Occupy pedophilia" movement have also been investigated. Martsinkevich has said that the indictment had been ordered by the "pedo lobby" seeking revenge, mentioning the official Andrey Kaminov he had caught during a date with a minor organized by Maxim.
Tesak was arrested in Cuba on 17 January 2014. On 27 January 2014 he was handcuffed and deported from Havana to Moscow for overstaying, then arrested by Russian authorities. On 29 January Martsinkevich was indicted in his presence.
A Moscow court started hearing the case on 30 July 2014. Martsinkevich was charged with inciting ethnic hatred with the threat of violence (part 2 of the article 282 of the criminal code in Russia). The prosecution argued that the defendant has published three videos with extremist content and psychological threats on his personal page on the social network Vkontakte. The court has agreed and on 15 August 2014 sentenced Martsinkevich to five years in a penal colony with a strict regimen. On 11 November 2014 the prisoner's lawyers appealed the decision and the court reduced the sentence to two years and ten months.
On 18 March 2015, it was reported that Martsinkevich had been newly charged with robbery and hooliganism. His lawyer said that the charges were related to Tesak's activities against smoking blends dealers. The case was heard at the Babushkinsky District Court in November 2016, with Marsinkevich pleading not guilty. The prosecutor asked for 11 years and 6 months of confinement in a strict regimen corrective labor colony. Tesak was found guilty of the attacks, and on 27 June 2017, judge Alexander Glukhov sentenced Martsinkevich to 10 years in a strict regimen labor colony, counting from 27 January 2014.
In February 2013, Tesak was in Minsk, Belarus to get a laser vision correction. During the visit, he got into a fight with a group of anti-fascist football fans of FC Partizan, resulting in him getting arrested by the police on the suspicion of hooliganism. He was soon released with no charges pressed.
One of Martsinkevich's lawyers made a public statement in October 2014, saying that his client has been recently charged with hooliganism for cutting off a man's hair.
In November 2014, Tesak was charged with inciting ethnic hatred for writing and publishing his book Restruct, which has been classified as extremist.