As More Russians Support Massacre in Ukraine, Here's How Some Big Crypto Companies Respond
Many crypto companies are taking steps to support Ukrainian users on their platforms, but few are willing to go beyond official sanctions and ban users from Russia altogether despite shocking massacres in Ukraine and the fact that more Russians are supporting this war.
The comments on sanctions compliance and a potential ban on Russian users were reviewed by Cryptonews.com after asking a number of major crypto exchanges and other centralized crypto service providers two questions on the matter:
- As more evidence of incomprehensible atrocities by Russia's forces in Ukraine emerge (learn about the Bucha massacre here), and an increasing number of Russians support the war (over 80%, per Levada's data), what is your company's strategy for offering your services to Russian users?
- If your company is not considering banning Russian users at this point, in what circumstances would you consider doing this?
While many companies did reply with comments, few addressed the questions directly, and no crypto companies said they have either banned or are considering a ban on Russian users.
Among those who provided the clearest answers to the questions was the crypto exchange Bitfinex, which said it will not block access to its trading platform for “innocent Russian users.”
“Bitfinex will take appropriate action against the accounts of Russian users who have been sanctioned but the exchange has no plans to unilaterally freeze the accounts of all innocent Russian users,” the crypto exchange said in a statement, adding:
“Our view is that the actions of a Government does not necessarily represent the wishes of all of its citizens.”
Taking a similar stance, the US-based crypto exchange Kraken said that it has “always advocated for crypto on the basis that it empowers the rights and interests of the individual.”
Kraken’s statement added that,
“Freezing access to digital assets of citizens from an entire country does not necessarily punish those who are actually responsible and who may have already prepared for the possibility of blanket sanctions.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for BlockFi said that the company has no client exposure in Russia, and has therefore not taken any steps in that regard.
The spokesperson further referred to earlier comments by BlockFi founder and Senior Vice President of Operations, Flori Marquez, who outlined support measures for Ukrainian users, including crediting all Ukrainian user accounts with USD 50 worth of stablecoins.
In addition, BlockFi has paused payments due on loans from Ukraine-based clients for 90 days, Marquez said in her comments from last month.
Similarly, US-based crypto exchange Gemini also said that it has no operations in Russia and Ukraine, but added that it is conducting “a robust review” to identify “any exposure to sanctioned parties or regions.”
“We have worked to extend our GeoIP blocking controls to prevent access to our platform from newly-sanctioned regions,” a representative for Gemini said, adding that the company is reminding clients of its commitment to comply with sanctions.
Meanwhile, the major crypto service provider Crypto.com did not address the questions directly, but commented that,
“Compliance is a key priority for Crypto.com and we take our obligations seriously. We are aware of and in compliance with all applicable sanctions requirements.”
Lastly, the major US-based and publicly listed crypto exchange Coinbase did not offer any comments, but instead referred to a blog post from March that said the company is “committed to complying with sanctions.”
According to the blog post, the company’s measures include blocking access to Coinbase services for sanctioned individuals or entities, terminating existing accounts for users who have later been sanctioned, as well as proactively identifying blockchain addresses that are affiliated with sanctioned persons outside Coinbase and adding them to an “internal blocklist.”
Multiple other crypto companies, such as Binance, FTX, OKX, AAX, KuCoin, Blockchain.com, and Celsius did not reply to our request for comment.
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