Russia’s opposition leader, believed to be the main opposition to President Vladmir Putin, has been relying on bitcoin donations to fund his political campaign. According to public blockchain data, Leonid Volkov has received as much as $3 million in donations over the past three years.
The politician has accrued some 591 BTC over the past three years. At today’s price, this gives a value of close to $3 million. The bitcoin donations have hit headlines in Russia this week after television networks sympathetic to the president questioned the donations and their timing.
Navalny runs the Anti-Corruption Foundation, an organisation which exposes corruption at the heart of the Russian establishment. In recent months, this has included allegations about the attorney general Yuri Chaika and Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev.
However, claims have surfaced in Russian media that a substantial donation was made just days before a recent expose; apparently, to encourage the publication of false news.
Leonid Volkov of the Navalny’s FBK said the allegations were baseless, and said the anonymous source had “dragged the non-existent facts together in by the head and shoulders.”
“You can say that each time Encke’s Comet approaches the Earth it coincides with a big war: 1914 (First World War), 1941 (World War II) and 2014 (War on Eastern Ukraine). But its rotation period is three years, and it approached the Earth many times when there were no big wars.”
According to blockchain records, the wallet was first used in December 2016. It has handled over 2000 transactions since that date, including withdrawing BTC, according to the data. The transactions tend to have range from fractions to 1-2 BTC, ranging up to a single donation of 20 BTC.
Navalny already accepts donations publicly by PayPal and bank transfer. Nevertheless, it is likely that BTC donations will appeal to some donors. This is especially true given their pseudonymous nature and the political climate in the country.
With the revelation, Navalny joins several other dissenting voices in accepting donations in BTC. Others include The Insider, Zona Media and internet freedom campaign Roskomsvoboda.
Using Bitcoin, you can send and receive money without the need for identity checks. While transactions are not strictly anonymous, BTC provides a layer of privacy unavailable through bank and PayPal payments.