Russian-Speaking Journalists Kicked Out of Stripe by Sanctions Turn to Crypto

  • Meduza continues to document Russia’s invasion of Ukraine despite Moscow’s ban on independent reporting
  • The Riga-based outlet was cut off from the Stripe payment rail under tough 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 send donations through other means.

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

The outlet was created following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Independent reporting on the Ukrainian war is now fundamentally illegal, but Meduza still publicly investigates and documents alleged Russian war crimes from his classroom. editorial office in Riga.

Russian internet censors are now blocking several news outlets, including Meduza, forcing Russia-based readers to access the site through virtual private networks and Telegram channels.

Meduza homepage

Last year, Meduza was branded a “foreign agent,” which ultimately put an end to local ad revenue. Crypto has now reportedly allowed Meduza to rely entirely on funds sent by foreigners for the first time.

Before the war, Meduza received donations from around 30,000 Russian readers, according to Bloomberg. Point of sale traffic has since been reduced by a third.

Meduza recently asked 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 by bank transfer or PayPal.

Meduza crypto backers have so far sent 3.75 BTC ($117,400), almost 50 ETH ($118,400) and over $30,000 in various ERC-20 and BNB Chain tokens, including stablecoins Tether and USDC. None of the traceable cryptos have been withdrawn so far, according to blockchain data reviewed by Blockworks.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) net the following day.

The outlet says it will use the money to quickly relocate its 25 journalists, mainly to the Latvian capital. Meduza editor-in-chief Ivan Kolpakov told reporters that Meduza currently collects only half of what it needs.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle and US-funded Radio Free Europe also moved to Riga after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian independent media Novaya Gazeta also plans to launch a new operation there, Bloomberg noted.

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


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  • David Canellis

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    Editor

    David Canellis is an Amsterdam-based editor and journalist who has covered the crypto industry full-time since 2018. He has a strong focus on data-driven reporting to identify and map trends within the ecosystem, from bitcoin to DeFi, from crypto stocks to NFTs and beyond. Contact David by email at [email protected]

Sylvester L. Goldfarb