Saturday, September 18, 2021
Bitcoin Bitcoin donations to jailed Kremlin critic Navalny's cause surge

Bitcoin donations to jailed Kremlin critic Navalny’s cause surge

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Navalny made headlines in January after he returned to Russia for the first time since being poisoned in Siberia lastsummer.

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Jailed Kremlin critic AlexeiNavalny’s movement has received bitcoin donations worth nearly$300,000 this year, outstripping the total amount it was givenin the cryptocurrency in 2020 at the prices at the time,according to a data analysis.

Navalny made headlines in January after he returned to Russia for the first time since being poisoned in Siberia lastsummer. He was arrested and in February handed a nearlythree-year jail term in a case he says waspolitically-motivated.

His anti-Kremlin movement has accepted donations in bitcoinsince 2016 via its network of regional political headquarters,an attempt to make it harder for Russia’s intelligence servicesto track and potentially disrupt its funding.

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Leonid Volkov, who is in charge of all of Navalny’s campaignHQs across Russia, told Reuters that overall donations haddoubled in January month-on-month, though did not break thedonations down by payment method or disclose how much had beenreceived.

But the campaign’s bitcoin wallet, viewed by Reuters, showedit received 6.242 bitcoins from Jan. 1 to Feb. 11. At currentrates, that’s nearly $300,000.

That exceeds the value of all the bitcoin donations itreceived for 2020, according to calculations by cryptocurrencywebsite Protos, with each donation valued in terms of bitcoinprices at the time it was made.

Bitcoin has been rallying hard, jumping over 300%in 2020 and breezing past record highs to reach above $47,000 onThursday.

The largest single donations were made the day afterNavalny’s return to Russia – one whole bitcoin – and on the eveand immediately after protests in his support on Jan. 23 – 0.86bitcoin and another whole bitcoin, according to data on theblockchain.com website.

“We had a very big inflow of donations,” said Volkov.”Mostly from normal people. There’s nothing complicated aboutit.”

Since 2016, when Navalny’s regional network began acceptingbitcoin transfers, more than 658 bitcoins have been gifted. Atthe current price, that is worth about $31 million.

Also Read | Bitcoin | what’s all the buzz about it?

At the moment, however, the balance of Team Navalny’sbitcoin wallet has fallen to 1.49277086 bitcoins.

Navalny’s team also accepts payments via bank and cardtransfers as well as via Paypal.

Russian authorities periodically block the bank accounts ofNavalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, a separate organisation hefounded which conducts investigations into official corruption.

“They try to close down our bank accounts – but we just opennew ones,” said Volkov.

The authorities opened a criminal case against thefoundation in 2019, accusing it of money laundering to the tuneof about 1 billion roubles ($13.6 million). In December 2020,another criminal case was opened against Navalny and others who,according to investigators, illegally spent more than 356million roubles in donations on their personal needs.

Navalny and his associates deny the allegations.

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