Alexei Navalny, the leading Russian critic of the current Kremlin administration, has received a significant amount of crypto currency in the form of anonymous donations for his NGO that fights corruption. The digital coins raised since the beginning of this year totaled well over $ 700,000, with today's prices.
This week, the Russian edition of RT (TV channel) reported that Navalny's anti-corruption foundation (abbr. FBK in Russian), which investigates alleged high-profile corruption cases in Russia, received 109.6 BTC among the January 1 and December 1, 2019. Most of the donations were made between April and September, during the period before the Moscow City Council elections.
A fairly quick check using Bitcoin.com's Block Explorer shows that over 638 BTCs have been deposited so far (around $ 4.5 million today) and that most of the money has already been withdrawn. The current balance is around 0.05 BTC after a total of 2,770 transactions. According to RT, 262.4 BTC were sent to the portfolio in 2017 and another 242.2 BTC were deposited in the following year.
FBK declared as "foreign agent"
Transactions in FBK's electronic wallet have declined significantly since August, when the investigative committee of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case against people involved in the anti-corruption foundation. Only 1.47 ВТС were deposited by the end of that month. Donations dropped to a total of 0.54 BTC until October before returning to 4.81 BTC in November.
The investigation was launched into an alleged "legalization" of illicit funds by the Navalny NGO during opposition protests in Moscow last summer. Russian investigators suspect that members of the foundation and individuals associated with its activities are responsible for the recycling of 1 billion rubles (over $ 15 million) carried out over the past three years.
Then, in October, the Russian Ministry of Justice added FBK to a list of "foreign agents". According to the ministry, the Navalny foundation meets the criteria of this definition while the organization claims that it has not received any funding from abroad. Since the adoption of a special law governing their activities in 2012, more than 70 entities have so far been listed as foreign agents.
According to the legislation, a foreign agent can be a private individual or an organization that is involved in Russian politics but receives funds from foreign entities. Those who have been categorized as such are required to file regular financial statements, report their activities and are subject to annual audits.
Accounting for revenue or donations received in crypto currency is difficult in Russia where digital coins do not yet have a legal status. Last year, a series of laws and amendments were introduced into the state Duma. But the final adoption of the main law, the "digital financial assets" law, has been postponed several times due to various reasons including disagreements between the Russian Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance on the state of decentralized crypto currencies.