Russian Journalists, Activists Kicked Off Crypto Exchanges Due to EU Sanctions

Crypto exchanges LocalBitcoins, and have notified their Russian users that services will soon be discontinued for them and recommended they withdraw funds from their accounts.

The new sanctions package adopted last week by the European Commission tightened the earlier introduced restrictions on providing Russian citizens with financial services in Europe. The sanctions are aimed at punishing Russia for starting the war in Ukraine.

Until now, crypto companies in the EU were prohibited from providing cryptocurrency custody to Russian users having more than €10,000 worth of assets in their accounts. The boosted package does away with that threshold, and the ban now covers all accounts Russian citizen keep crypto in, regardless of the size.

Dmitry Suharev, editor of the Russian-language news website Chronicles.Media, told CoinDesk he received an email from LocalBitcoins on Oct. 8 (which CoinDesk has viewed) saying that he can can withdraw his bitcoin in one transaction and then his account would no longer be available to him.

Suharev, who is based in Georgia, said he used crypto to pay freelancers in Russia. With that country having been recently cut off from the global payment networks due to the sanctions, cryptocurrencies are one of the very few options left for remittances.

Read also: Crypto Becomes Lifeline for Russian Emigrés Opposing Putin’s War in Ukraine

In the email, LocalBitcoins – a Finland-based company and one of the world’s oldest p2p bitcoin marketplaces – said the restrictions wouldn't apply to those Russians who are also citizens or permanent residents of the EU.

Daniil Chebykin, coordinator of the project Omsk Civil Union which is helping Russians to avoid recruitment to the war, used to raise money via crypto. He told CoinDesk he received an email from that exchange on Oct. 14, saying he had until Oct. 27 to withdraw funds. Chebykin left Russia soon after the war started and is working from abroad now.

Email notification Daniil Chebykin received from / Courtesy of Daniil Chebykin, a U.K.-based exchange, also notified Russian users the service is not available for them anymore, Russian-language crypto news website Forklog reported.

Last week, DapperLabs also shut down access to its NFT marketplace for Russian users, CoinDesk reported.