Independent Russian news firm raises $250,000 in cryptocurrency after sanctions crippled finances

A Russian independent news company has raised more than $250,000 in cryptocurrency donations from backers to continue reporting on independent journalism amid Russian government propaganda and censorship.

Meduza, a Latvia-based Russian-language news site that claims to report on “The Real Russia Today,” has been asking for donations in dollars, euros, and cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, since March (bitcoin), Ethereum (Ethereum), Binance (BNB), Tether (USDT), Monero (XMR) and zcash (ZEC).

Since posting the donation request, the news company has received about $250,000 in crypto donations through 146,000 individual transactions. About 93% of the total donation came in the form of 3.75 BTC ($116,954) and 49.9 ETH ($117,767).

Meduza’s funding problems actually started in April 2021, when it and several other independent media outlets were flagged as “foreign agents” by the Russian Ministry of Justice, requiring the company to place a large-print warning in every Russian article it wrote, Inform readers of their “foreign agent” status. The same warning had to appear in all ads, leading to the loss of nearly all advertisers. It wrote in its donation FAQ:

“As you can imagine, few companies will pay to promote their products under the warning that the content is ‘created by a foreign agency’.

Being labeled a foreign agent didn’t stop readers in Russia from donating to the group, however, as the company quickly established a pathway for donors to donate to regulators through their banks using the payment processor Stripe.

But in March, Meduza found herself subject to Russian government scrutiny and Western sanctions. Its website was blocked by Russian authorities for “illegal dissemination of information” and its only way to accept donations from Russian supporters was blocked by the Russian government. Ban SWIFT February 26 Russian Bank Network.

SWIFT is the global financial information network used by financial institutions to perform international money transfers.

Meduza wrote in its donation website Financial constraints prevent them from receiving donations from supporters in Russia.

Since February 25, the news organization and its reporters have published daily updates on Russia’s war in Ukraine, sharing pictures and stories of Ukrainian civilians affected by the war and other major events not reported by local Russian media.

“Millions of people in Russia now rely on our reporting,” Meduza wrote, noting that his journalists were forced to leave the country.

“Transferring funds from Russia to Europe has been impossible since this war broke out. We lost 30,000 donors. At the moment, we are not getting any funds from Russia at all.”

Meduza Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov Tell Bloomberg’s donation will help 25 of their journalists, who have fled the country to resettle in Riga, Latvia, where the company is headquartered.

Related: Ukraine Invasion Shows Why We Need Crypto Regulation

Meduza and his journalists are not the only unintentional victims of Russian sanctions.Media reports for months have pointed out that ordinary Russians, students studying abroad, international students in Russia, and even all The country’s civilian population is severely affected by Russian sanctions.