Russia opposition candidate Aleksey Navalny has announced he is accepting Bitcoin for funding his 2018 presidency bid.
Navalny Receives $6700 in BTC and Counting
Navalny, who caused a stir after announcing his campaign this month, is the first major political presence to embrace Bitcoin, following its recent de facto legalization in Russia.
His official campaign website lists an address for donations to be sent to, along with traditional methods such as PayPal and domestic e-money transfer.
As of December 14, the campaign Bitcoin address had received donations worth approximately $6,700.
“I thought about whether it would be helpful for everyone, whether it would be good for the country, for society, the state or every individual, including those who don’t buy my ideas, if I ran for election,” Navalny explained about his decision, adding:
Could I and those who support me make Russia better by participating? I came to conclusion that yes, we could.
Pressure Off Crypto?
Political opposition is notoriously problematic in Russia, due to the pressure placed by the incumbent regime on alternative parties.
Navalny has experienced no shortage of this in his time in the spotlight, launching as he has a fund specifically for fighting large scale corruption in the country.
The status of Bitcoin in Russia is riding a wave of optimism as 2016 draws to a close. Several years of confusion, hypocritical legislative moves and localized blockings of cryptocurrency-related services should now finally come to an end for the country’s growing user base.
In autumn, the most recent form of pressure came as the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor blocked country-wide access to Localbitcoins. The site immediately set up a mirror site and continued operating.
Curiously, president Vladimir Putin – an arch nemesis of Navalny – was making specific references to what Bitcoin could be used for in Russia even while its legal status was decidedly shady.
“This money has no real basis and it does not depend on any real entity,” he said back in July 2015. “In general you can use these ‘coins’, they are spreading more and more. You can use them as the equivalent [of money] in certain segments of economy. This is possible.”
However, it is unclear whether official distaste is now over for good. While national law should protect businesses operating with cryptocurrency provided they fulfill various KYC requirements, localized exceptions may continue.
What do you think about Navalny accepting Bitcoin? Could it affect its reputation post-legalization? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of theblaze.com, shutterstock