Ukrainian government raises $8 million in cryptocurrency in crowdfunding appeal

Bitcoin is seen in an illustrative photo taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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LONDON (Reuters) – The Ukrainian government has raised nearly $8 million in cryptocurrency after posting appeals on social media for donations of bitcoin and other digital tokens, according to blockchain analysis firm Elliptic.

Ukraine’s official Twitter account launched an appeal for crypto donations on Saturday after Russia invaded the country, posting addresses of digital wallets for coins including bitcoin and ether.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhailo Fedorov tweeted the addresses of the wallet. “Stand with the people of Ukraine. Now accepting cryptocurrency donations,” wrote Fedorov, who is also the Minister of Digital Transformation.

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The donations came as Russian military vehicles rolled into Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv on Sunday and explosions rocked oil and gas facilities on the fourth day of fighting in the biggest attack on a European country since World War Two.

By 1030 GMT on Sunday, addresses for the wallet had received $7.9 million worth of crypto via nearly 11,500 donations, based in London. elliptic said. The company tracks the movement of digital currencies on the blockchain, a public ledger that records crypto transactions.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Its appeal for crowdfunding cryptocurrency is unprecedented. Although some countries such as El Salvador have adopted cryptocurrencies, Ukraine’s appeal for direct donations is the first of its kind. It was not clear what Kiev would use the money for.

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Elliptic said this week that crypto donations to Ukrainian volunteers and hacking groups have also risen since Russia launched its invasion on Thursday.

Donations to such groups, some of which have supplied equipment to government forces, surged in January as Russia massed troops near the Ukrainian border before its invasion.

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(Reporting by Tom Wilson; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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