The film “License to Commit Crimes” introduces viewers to the methods used in the Russian Federation to train religious extremists and those with similar methods, in particular, to train people engaged in information warfare to implement the domestic and foreign policy of the Russian Federation government. The film was the first to present an internal “Russian Federation patriots’ textbook,” which describes in detail the training system used to produce individuals capable of destroying any dissent both within and outside of Russia. Numerous documentary materials, as well as the stories of two insiders, clearly demonstrate the mechanisms of the repression machine that have taken shape in Russia over the past 20 years. For the first time, viewers have an opportunity to get acquainted with the model of multilayered defense of the Russian market with a description of the actors and schemes of interaction of such organizations as the Russian Orthodox Church, the Federal Security Service, the Center E, and Roskomnadzor.
The central focus of the film is an exposé of the phenomenon of religious extremism, using events in the Russian Federation as an example. The documentary basis of the film is the story of a man who did not want to participate in the arson of movie theaters during the broadcast of the film “Matilda,” who subsequently left Russia and gave the “Russian Federation patriots’ textbook” to the NGO “Kavalyer.” According to this whistleblower, the textbook was used to train Russian operatives, known as “patriots”, for the destruction of dissent. According to the authors of the manual, the Russian Federation has four types of enemies: enemies of the state, enemies of the church, enemies of the state policy, and enemies of unspoken state policy. Those falling into one of these four categories are referred to by the textbook authors as a “special contingent” who must either cease their activities or be destroyed. What follows is a detailed description of the three levels of training and methods used by Russian “patriots”.
In the film, experts from Ukraine and Europe evaluate and analyze the possible origins of the textbook. The film also presents the system used by the Russian authorities against manifestations of dissent. The film puts the events of recent years together into a single picture and shows that religious extremism in Russia is not chaotic, but rather, is a manifestation of unspoken state policy. The artistic part of the film is a reproduction of the events as told by an eyewitness.
The feature-length documentary “License to Commit Crimes” was commissioned by the NGO “Kavalyer” with support from Information Security Institute.
On February 22, 2019, the press center of Ukrinform hosted a presentation of the feature-documentary “License for Crimes”.
A participant in the conference, professor and doctor of law Alexander Sainchin, shared his impressions about the film and the preliminary work towards it, in which he also participated as a film expert and co-author.
“We recorded right away, we didn’t have any takes in everything you see. We didn’t stop, we didn’t cut, I didn’t say, ‘Cut that out’. On the contrary, I said ‘Everything we recorded, I don’t even want to look at. Use it however you want,” said Alexander Sainchin recalling the filming.
He highlighted what were for him two very important aspects.
Referring to the words of Professor Liudmyla Fylypovych that Ukraine in the legal field is making only the first steps towards understanding what extremism is, Alexander Sainchin noted: “We only try to regulate this process by the law in some ways. In connection with what? With the fact that a law has been passed, which we call ‘on the separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate and Ukrainian Orthodox Church confessions,’ because of the active Russian agenda, which presses our public with what they say are the facts of nascent extremism in Ukraine.”
Another of the conference participants was Maxim Lepskiy, doctor of philosophy and Professor at Zaporizhzhya National University, and Head of the Research Board at the Social Forecasting Sociological Association of Ukraine. In his speech he spoke about the stages of the study of the “Russian Federation patriots’ textbook” and shared his impressions of the scientific work done.
“This text was suggested to me by Costantino Slobodyanyuk. I had absolutely no idea what it was about, how it was going to happen. I just knew that the man who escaped from Russia proposed such a textbook for training Russian patriots, and using the methods of visual sociology, in fact, I analyzed what was outlined in this “textbook”. This was the first stage of this research,” – recalls the professor. – “The second stage. After the analysis at first the “textbook” did not make any impression on me because I am not familiar with the technology of the intelligence services or any other additional points. But there was a very clear structure of work with the worldview and motivation of people, the involvement of small social groups, which are quite united, closed, and with the characteristic features associated with aggression, and, of course, there were moments of mobilization of people into these groups. There were no bills. There was just a webinar, a meeting on the Internet. I talked about my impressions, my research on this text. But after researching the text, there were other questions. These questions were related to my scholarly field of interest, peacemaking, war, the development of conflicts that occur. Here I already saw a completely different matrix of events taking place”.
Professor Lepskiy explained what he was talking about: “It is very popular now to talk about hybrid warfare, although our colleagues from America quite effectively last year issued an excellent monograph, which showed that hybrid warfare is associated with the modification and combination of different methods of warfare. And now there is an increasing intensification of such a process as political warfare, where the goal is no longer just hybrid forms of warfare, but the main goal is to gain power by any means. In this film, it was very interesting to connect the fact that the regime that is forming — authoritarian and even in many things totalitarian — is already using religion as a certain kind of tool. Moreover, of course, as sociologists, we saw perfectly well that there are also paths of upward mobility for the promotion of people who are unsettled, unsecured, detached from society in a certain way. They were given a perspective – to belong to something bigger with the interest of being promoted in some like-minded group. But belonging to this group implied actions of an aggressive and terrorist nature.