Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navalny’s movement has received 658 bitcoin in donations since 2016. The donations came in response to overthrowing Putin’s administration in the country. At today’s price, the cryptocurrencies are valued at nearly $32 million. This year alone Navalny’s campaign had received 6.242 BTC worth $304,000.
In August 2020, opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned in Siberia. Navalny blamed Putin for the poisoning, however, the Kremlin has denied any involvement. After Navalny spent five months recovering in a hospital in Germany, the Russian government arrested him upon his return to Russia on January 17. This led to protests in the country demanding his release.
Following his arrest, the crypto wallet has spiked in Bitcoin donations. One of the supporters even donated a whole BTC, a day after Navalny's return. From January 1 to February 11, supporters sent his wallet a total of 6.242 BTC worth $294,000. Since February 11, supporters have sent Navalny a further donation of 0.01685528 BTC worth $826.
Political analysts view that Bitcoin donations provide democratic activists in Russia and a useful tool to handle authoritarian governments. For instance, Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation, has said that the surge in Bitcoin donations reveals a growing interest in Bitcoin and the supporter’s anger towards Putin's actions against Navalny, adding:
Donations in Bitcoin have surged, following a recent crypto regulation in Russia. As of January 1, crypto is legally tradable in the country, although it can’t be used as an everyday currency.
Alex Gladstein, who leads the Human Rights Foundation’s fund for open-source Bitcoin development, adds:
“Human rights activists should learn about using Bitcoin before their governments do. We want them to be on the leading edge and have the advantage moving forward.”
Perhaps if Navalny ever becomes the Russian president, his administration might embrace cryptocurrency in the country that once aided him.