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Russia Paramilitary Groups Avoid Sanctions, Turn to Crypto

Pro-Russian organisations are allegedly using crowdfunding campaigns to raise a substantial amount of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The campaigns aim to dodge US sanctions and provide financial aid to paramilitary activities in Ukraine.

About $400,000 have been raised since the invasion began in February. One of the organizations is “Task Force Rusich,” defined as a “neo-Nazi paramilitary group that participated in combat with Russia’s military in Ukraine” by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The OFAC sanctioned the “Task Force Rusich” this month, along with two of its commanders and five crypto addresses connected to the organisation, for their alleged involvement in horrific crimes in Ukraine. The organisation allegedly tried to fundraise to buy radios and thermal imaging cameras.

A Telegram Channel, Romanov Light, is highlighted in the article for raising about $174,000 in cryptocurrency for the Special Rapid Response Unit (“SOBR”) of the Russian military. The entity bought survival gear, ordinary military gear, and the like.

The report also names “The Novorossia Aid Coordinating Centre,” a pro-Russian organisation that collected roughly $21,000 to buy drones with cryptocurrency.

Due to the sanctions and service problems in the electronic banking system of Russia, cryptocurrency adoption among Telegram channels that gather donations for pro-invasion operations would likely surge.