According to Reuters, Russian intelligence services obtained information from cryptocurrency exchange Binance about users who made large transfers to Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK, an organization recognized as extremist and banned in Russia). Fundraising for Navalny in cryptocurrencies increased dramatically after his arrest. Supporters donated more than 670 bitcoins worth $28 million through exchanges.
The source writes that Rosfinmonitoring (Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation) officials agreed in April 2021 with Binance’s head of Eastern Europe and Russia, Gleb Kostarev.
The Russian security services demanded that the exchange provide customer data, including names and addresses, «to help fight crime». According to Reuters sources, Kostarev admitted to his partners that he had no choice. The company said that Russian authorities had never contacted Binance about Navalny.
The meeting with Rosfinmonitoring officials was one of Binance’s attempts to informally connect with Russian government authorities. Binance was told of this strategy by Reuters sources familiar with the exchange’s operations in Russia, including former employees, business partners and leaders in the crypto industry.Binance representatives told Reuters that «active engagement with the Russian government has now ceased due to the conflict».
On the eve of Binance announced new restrictions: the exchange limits access to its services to those users who live in Russia and have assets worth more than 10 thousand euros. For users who fit these criteria, now only withdrawal function will be available.