Russian-language Journalists Forced off Stripe by Sanctions Turn to Crypto

Russian-language news outlet Meduza is now relying solely on foreign donations for the first time ever, with crypto as its lifeline

article-image

Source: Shutterstock

share

key takeaways

  • Meduza continues to document Russia’s invasion of Ukraine despite Moscow’s ban on independent reporting
  • The Riga-based outlet was cut off from payment rail Stripe under strict Western sanctions imposed earlier this year

Independent Russian-language website Meduza has raised more than $260,000 in crypto after Western sanctions crippled its ability to field donations through other means.

Meduza, which operates out of Latvia, turned to crypto after fintech giant Stripe stopped supporting payments to the website. 

The news outlet was established in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Independent reporting on the Ukrainian war is now basically illegal, but Meduza still publicly investigates and documents alleged Russian war crimes from its Riga newsroom.

Russia’s internet censors now block multiple news outlets — including Meduza — forcing Russia-based readers to access the site via virtual private networks and Telegram channels.

Meduza’s homepage

Last year, Meduza was labeled a “foreign agent,” which ultimately put a stop to local advertising revenue. Crypto has now reportedly enabled Meduza to rely entirely on funds sent from foreigners for the first time. 

Before the war, Meduza fielded donations from around 30,000 Russian readers, according to Bloomberg. The outlet’s traffic has since been slashed by a third.

Meduza has recently been asking international audiences to donate cash (dollars, euros and crypto). It accepts bitcoin, ether (and Ethereum-based tokens), monero, BNB (and other BNB Chain tokens), Zcash, and Tether (USDT). Fiat contributions can still be sent via bank transfer or PayPal.

Meduza’s crypto donors have so far sent 3.75 BTC ($117,400), nearly 50 ETH ($118,400), and more than $30,000 in various ERC-20 and BNB Chain tokens, including stablecoins Tether and USDC. None of the trackable crypto has been withdrawn so far, according to blockchain data reviewed by Blockworks.

Large individual contributions include 12 ETH ($28,500) received last Monday and 1 BTC ($31,500) netted the day after. 

The outlet says it will use that money to quickly resettle its 25 journalists, mostly in the Latvian capital. Meduza Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov told reporters that Meduza is currently only raising half of what it needs.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle and US-funded Radio Free Europe have also set up shop in Riga following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian independent outlet Novaya Gazeta is planning to start a new operation there as well, noted Bloomberg.

In any case, Meduza joins a growing list of journalistic organizations to accept contributions via crypto, including the Freedom of the Press Foundation, WikiLeaks, Bellingcat and the Committee to Protect Journalists.


Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

Explore the growing intersection between crypto, macroeconomics, policy and finance with Ben Strack, Casey Wagner and Felix Jauvin. Subscribe to the On the Margin newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.

Tags

Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2024

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research Report Templates.png

Research

ZKPs enable efficient offchain transaction processing and validation, resulting in increased throughput and reduced fees. Solana's ZK Compression leverages ZKPs to minimize onchain storage costs, while Sui's zkLogin streamlines user onboarding by replacing complex key management with familiar OAuth credentials.

article-image

The crypto asset manager lowered its planned fee from 0.25% to 0.15%, undercutting its competitors

article-image

Plus, a look at planned ETH ETF fees and how they differ from their BTC counterparts

article-image

North Korea suspected in breach of Indian exchange’s multisig wallet

article-image

Plus, Sanctum’s CLOUD token has officially launched — but not without problems

article-image

It’s not yet clear whether Donald Trump is pumping bitcoin. But an unofficial memecoin is still seeing benefit.