Russian Journalists, Activists Kicked Off Crypto Exchanges Due to EU Sanctions

The European Commission last week boosted restrictions on providing financial services to Russians.

AccessTimeIconOct 14, 2022 at 12:57 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 14, 2022 at 8:06 p.m. UTC

Crypto exchanges LocalBitcoins, and have notified their Russian users that their services will soon be discontinued and recommended that the users withdraw funds from their accounts.

The new sanctions package adopted last week by the European Commission tightened the earlier restrictions on providing Russian citizens with financial services in Europe. The sanctions are aimed at punishing Russia for starting the war in Ukraine.

Until now, crypto companies in the European Union were prohibited from providing cryptocurrency custody to Russian users who had more than 10,000 euros ($97,000) worth of assets in their accounts. The boosted package does away with that threshold, and the ban now covers all accounts Russian citizen keep crypto in, regardless of the size.

Dmitry Suharev, editor of the Russian-language news website Chronicles.Media, told CoinDesk he received an email from LocalBitcoins on Oct. 8 (which CoinDesk has viewed) saying that he can can withdraw his bitcoin in one transaction and then his account would no longer be available to him.

Suharev, who is based in Georgia, said he used crypto to pay freelancers in Russia. Because Russia is cut off from global payment networks, cryptocurrencies are one of the very few options left for remittances.

In the email, LocalBitcoins – a Finland-based company and one of the world’s oldest peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplaces – said the restrictions wouldn't apply to those Russians who are also citizens or permanent residents of the EU.

Daniil Chebykin, coordinator of the project Omsk Civil Union, which is helping Russians to avoid recruitment to the war, used to raise money via crypto. He told CoinDesk he received an email from that exchange on Friday, saying he had until Oct. 27 to withdraw funds. Chebykin left Russia soon after the war started and is working from abroad now.

Email notification Daniil Chebykin received from / Courtesy of Daniil Chebykin
Email notification Daniil Chebykin received from / Courtesy of Daniil Chebykin, a U.K.-based exchange, also notified Russian users the service is not available for them anymore, Russian-language crypto news website Forklog reported.

Last week, Dapper Labs shut down access to its NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace for Russian users, CoinDesk reported.


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Anna Baydakova

Anna Baydakova was CoinDesk's investigative reporter with a special focus on Eastern Europe and Russia. Anna owns BTC and an NFT.