Alexei Navalny, a fierce political and economic critic of the current Russian president, has received $ 300,000 in bitcoin this year alone.
to the Quoted From the script, Alexei Navalny, the leader of the current Russian opposition movement, has received 658 bitcoins since 2016 as funding for a campaign against Vladimir Putin. Given the current price of Bitcoin, this amount can be considered equal to 32 million dollars.
In addition, Navalny has received 6,242 bitcoins this year alone, which is now worth $ 304,000.
However, the Navalny campaign has sent a large portion of this bitcoin amount to other wallets, meaning that these bitcoin units have been spent long before their price peaks. The current value of the campaign wallet is about $ 300.
Alex Gladstein, senior director of strategy at the Human Rights Foundation, said in an interview:
Governments have complete control over the banking system, but they do not control bitcoin.
In August 2020, Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, was poisoned in Siberia. Navalny blames Putin for the assassination attempt, while the Kremlin denies any involvement.
Navalny returned to Russia on January 17 after spending five months recovering in a German hospital, but was arrested by the German government. The Russian government’s move sparked a wave of protests in the country demanding Navalny’s release.
According to the Protos digital currency website and a Reuters report, since Navalny was arrested, the amount of funding to the movement’s bitcoin wallets has increased significantly. One of the movement’s supporters donated a full bitcoin to the campaign a day after Navalny returned.
From January 1 to February 11, fans sent a total of 6,242 bitcoins to the Navalny wallet, which is currently worth $ 294,000, according to Reuters. According to news reports, since February 11, supporters of the movement have sent another 0.01685528 bitcoins to the wallet, which is worth $ 826. On February 16th, Navalny’s campaign wallet transferred $ 1,506, equivalent to $ 73,775, to another address.
Increased bitcoin donations could also be a consequence of the liberalization of digital currency transactions in Russia. Digital currency trading has been free in the country since January 1, but individuals will not be able to use the assets for day-to-day payments.
Despite the free disclosure of these assets, the Russian government has generally pursued a strict policy on digital currencies, including jail time for digital currency holders and members of the government, as well as a ban on digital currency-related websites, such as the Baines digital currency exchange.
Filip Rambousek, a London-based political analyst specializing in Eastern European issues, said in an interview:
This shows that digital currencies pose a serious threat to the current state of governance in the country, an issue that is now becoming increasingly acute.
Pjotr Sauer, a correspondent for the Moscow Times, wrote on his Twitter account on February 12:
Blockchain general data show that the Bitcoin address related to Navalny received 3.5 bitcoins by the end of January (mid-February 1999). The Navalny campaign team also received more bitcoins in January than in all of 2020, according to the data.
Sawyer continued his tweets with a conversation he had with Leonid Volkov, an IT expert and campaign manager Alexei Navalny in the 2018 presidential election:
Leonid Volkov also told me that digital currencies such as bitcoin have a “deterrent” role to the authorities’ efforts to prevent the fundraising for the Navalny campaign. Because the authorities have realized that they can not stop raising funds through bitcoin, they are less sensitive to blocking our other channels of communication and financing.
Alex Goldstein also explained:
They cannot block or censor bitcoin. They can not link the activities of the Bitcoin network to the real identity of individuals, and perhaps most importantly, they can not devalue it.
Last week, Dmitry Buterin, the father of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, said in an interview that he had asked the Ethereum community to donate digital currency to the Navalny movement.
Putin met with Vitalik Butrin in 2017, and at the time, there was a sense that Russia could see significant progress in digital currencies. However, none of this has happened and it is unlikely to happen.
Rambusk explained that unlike some governments, such as Venezuela, which use digital currencies as a way to evade international sanctions, the Russian government treats digital assets as a threat. He continued:
Russia has a long history of cyber warfare, such as the use of hacks or political robots, but the Kremlin has failed to use these tools to pursue its goals. According to senior Russian law enforcement officials trained in the 1990s, digital currencies are a threat, not an opportunity.
In other words, political activists can be one step ahead of governments in using bitcoin.
Goldstein, who also manages the Human Rights Foundation’s Reserve Fund for the Development of Bitcoin Open Source Code, said:
Human rights activists must go beyond governments in learning about the use of bitcoin. We expect them to be leaders in this direction and to continue their activities.
However, if Navalny becomes president of Russia one day, it will be interesting to see if his government will embrace the digital currencies that once helped him.