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Crypto Exchanges Receive Calls to Freeze Russian Accounts

  • Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister has called on crypto exchanges around the world to freeze assets of Russian users
  • Mykhailo Fedorov referred to the NFT platform DMarket, which had already initiated such restrictions
  • None of the major crypto exchanges has so far withheld ordinary user assets in Russia

In an incident that caused conflicting emotions, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov yesterday called on all global crypto exchanges to block addresses linked to users in Russia. In particular, Fedorov insisted on ensuring that lockdown measures, in addition to political leaders, must also affect everyday users.

“Ich call on all major crypto exchanges to block addresses of Russian users. It is crucial not only to freeze the addresses associated with Russian and Belarusian politicians, but also to sabotage ordinary users“, sagte he tweeted in connection with exerting greater economic pressure on President Putin to stop Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The action is already underway

The Deputy Prime Minister cited the NFT platform DMarket, founded in Ukraine, which has frozen user assets and restricted registration on the platform by Russian and Belarusian citizens.

“… DMarket, a platform for trading NFT and in-game Metaverse items, has decided to freeze the accounts of users from the Russian Federation and Belarus. Funds from these accounts could be donated to the war effort. Today’s Robin Hoods. Bravo“, sagte Fedorov, who is also Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, in a later tweet.

DMarket had announced the decision earlier and explainthat the Russian ruble is no longer available on its platform. The marketplace clarified that all users would keep their holdings, only that access to them would be limited for the time being.

“The Ukrainian-born startup DMarket is cutting off all relations with Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine. Registration on the platform is prohibited for users from Russia and Belarus. Accounts of previously registered users from these territories are frozen.“

Kraken maybe, but Binance doesn’t

On the other side of the divide, users argue that it surpasses the whole purpose of financial freedom associated with the use of cryptocurrencies, centralized exchanges should restrict access for Russians and Belarusians.

A representative of Binance has Reuters meanwhile informedthat the exchange does not intend to prevent the freedom of crypto financing by freezing assets. The spokesperson explained that the exchange would instead work to ensure that the sanctions already outlined are imposed with the least possible impact on innocent users.

“We will not unilaterally freeze the accounts of millions of innocent users. Crypto is supposed to offer more financial freedom to people all over the world.“

For his part, Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken, today indicatedthat the exchange would not issue such a ban, but should a legal requirement (as recently issued by the Canadian government) come to this, the attitude of the crypto exchange could change.

I understand the reasons for this request, but despite my deep respect for the Ukrainian people, Kraken exchanges cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal obligation. Russians should be aware that such a requirement may be imminent,” notice CEO.

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