Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition politician who ran against President Putin in his recent campaign for re-election earlier this year, is reported to have received a quarter of his $6 million donations in Bitcoin.
Incumbent Vladimir Putin won re-election for his second consecutive term in office with 77% of the vote.
According to Navalny’s campaign manager Leonid Volkov, although he was barred from running as an official opposition to the president, he still managed to raise the funds, which included about 91 million rubles ($1.460 million) worth of Bitcoin. According to Russian media outlets, over 100,000 people donated about 1,500 rubles, or roughly $24, to the campaign.
It appears that the Russian government made it difficult for Navalny, cited by The Wall Street Journal as “the man Vladimir Putin fears most.” The Russian government foiled Navalny’s attempts to mount any meaningful challenge to Putin’s re-election, when in 2016 the Central bank of Russia and other government agencies ordered Yandex, Russia’s largest social media platform and mobile payment network, to halt services to Navalny’s campaign.
Initial interest in Navalny, a long time Putin adversary and anti-corruption campaigner, fermented after a release of a video on U-tube and various other social media platforms. With the subsequent launch of a campaign website, Russian anti-Putin voters were then able to donate Bitcoins.
Where does Russia stand on Bitcoin?
Earlier this year President Putin stated that he would work in collaboration with The Central Bank in regulating Cryptocurrencies:
“This is the prerogative of the Central Bank at present, and the Central Bank has sufficient authority so far. However, in broad terms, legislative regulation will be definitely required in future,”
On March 6, 2018, The Russian Minister of Finance announced that his office was working on a draft to criminalize cryptocurrency activity in the country. Russian law currently bans any form of cryptocurrency operations, pushing those interested in the industry to do business in more crypto-friendly countries.
This month Russia imposed a ban on the social messaging app, Telegram, after owners of the app refused to give the government encryption keys that would enable them to view people’s private chats on the platform.