Home / News / World /  Ukraine govt calls for broad crypto crackdown on Russians amid war

The Ukrainian government escalated its rhetoric against Russian crypto users on Sunday, saying it was time to “sabotage ordinary users." 

Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said on Twitter that he was asking “all major crypto exchanges to block addresses of Russian users." He had earlier solicited information about digital wallets associated with Russian and Belorussian politicians, saying that the Ukrainian crypto community was ready to offer a “generous reward" to anyone who provided tips.

The government has already used Twitter to draw in millions of dollars worth of crypto donations and posted in online hacker forums that it is looking for help in protecting against cyberattacks. 

While it was initially unclear how exchanges would respond to Fedorov’s latest call, the CEOs of several of them have publicly shared their support for Ukraine since the Russian invasion. On Sunday, a verified Twitter handle associated with Binance posted that the exchange was donating $10 million “to help the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine," while an affiliate, Binance Charity Foundation, launched a fund to provide emergency relief through crypto crowdfunding. Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ" Zhao said in a similar post on his personal account that the focus was on providing on-the-ground support. “We just care about the people," the tweet said. Binance did not immediately return a request for comment about Ukraine’s call to ban Russian users.

Artem Afian, a Ukrainian lawyer managing the effort to get information about politicians’ accounts, plans to publish a list of politicians’ addresses and share it with top crypto exchanges. The goal, Afian said, is to mark these addresses as “toxic" and discourage people and businesses from transacting with them. 

“We want them to understand that they are not welcome in Ukraine or in crypto," he said. said private donations toward a fund for tips have been mainly in Ether, as well as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

The data will also be shared with blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, according to Afian. The company tweeted Friday that it is monitoring whether Russian actors are using crypto transactions to evade economic sanctions.

“To the extent that cryptocurrency may be used to evade sanctions related to this crisis, it likely would have happened slowly over the past several months," Caroline Malcolm, head of international policy at Chainalysis, told Bloomberg in an email Sunday. “Any information on relevant wallet addresses will be added to our products and available to our partners immediately."

Western nations, including the US, agreed Saturday to disconnect some Russian banks from SWIFT, a messaging system used for transactions between thousands of banks around the world. The move is just the latest in a series of international sanctions designed to isolate Russia from the global financial system. These measures are ratcheting up pressure for Russians to find alternative ways to move their wealth around, with crypto as a potential option. 

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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