According to a report by the blockchain analytics company Elliptic, cryptocurrency donations to Ukrainian civil activists and volunteers jumped to more than $570,000 in 2021, a 900% increase compared with the previous year.
The organizations in question emerged during the so-called Maidan revolution in 2014, when the pro-Russia President Victor Yanukovich was ousted. After that, Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea peninsula and fueled a civil war in the Eastern part of Ukraine. That's when the volunteer groups started helping Ukrainian armed forces and targeting pro-Russian militants.
The groups rely on both fiat and crypto donations; however, bitcoin donations in particular have increased significantly over the past year, Elliptic said, because using the crypto allows international donors to bypass financial institutions that have blocked payments to these groups. For example, the bitcoin wallet of Come Back Alive, a non-governmental organization (NGO) raising funds to help the Ukrainian army, raised over 3.8 BTC since August 2021, with a few donations as large as 1 or 2 BTC.
Hacktivist group Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, which targets pro-Russian militants in the eastern region of Donbass, managed to raise about $100,000 over the past year in bitcoin, ether, litecoin and several stablecoins, Elliptic said.
Another project, Mirotvorets, a website publishing the names and personal data of Russians considered by the project's team to be "enemies of Ukraine," has received over 6.9 BTC since 2020 at its bitcoin donations address. The project has gained some controversy as in 2016, it published, among other data, a list of all journalists accredited by the separatists government of the breakaway region of Donbass, along with their contact information.
Another hacktivist group, Belarus-based Cyber Partisans, responded to the rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia by attacking the Belarussian railroad in January to prevent it from being used to transport Russian troops to the Ukrainian border. The group raised $84,000 in bitcoin donations over the past six months, Elliptic said.
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