Ukraine crypto exchange founder accuses Binance of working in support of the Russian government

  • Mikhail Chobanyan, the founder of Ukrainian crypto-exchange KUNA, claims that crypto-exchange Binance works with the Russian government despite the global sanctions.
  • Zhao did not comment on his position or that of Binance, which may be troubling because of his ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Michael Chobanyan, the founder of Ukrainian crypto exchange KUNA, claims that crypto exchange Binance is working with the Russian government despite global sanctions, and has been for some time.

During a Friday interview on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover,” Chobanyan said CEO Changpeng Zhao must decide what position CZ takes on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Binance indictment

During a Friday interview on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover,” Chobanyan said that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao must decide what position Binance takes on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The problem with Binance is not just that they still continue to operate on both sides, but that they have demonstrated cooperation with the Russian government even before the war. As far as I know, they are still cooperating with the Russian government,

Chobanyan, who is also president of the Ukraine Blockchain Association, appeared before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday at a hearing on “The Role of Digital Assets in Illicit Finance.” During that hearing, he accused Binance of not being aggressive enough toward the Russian government.

Ambiguous position of Binance

Earlier, Binance reported that it does not plan to unilaterally ban Russian users from accessing the platform, but will take action against those against whom sanctions have been imposed.

Jessica Jung, a spokeswoman for Binance, said:

We prefer not to comment on false accusations. Our focus is on helping people.

She also cited a press release announcing a $10 million donation from Binance and the launch of a crowdfunding site called the Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund.

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Read more: Binance joins the crypto community with a $10M donation to Ukraine amidst Russian assault

Chobanyan did not provide actual evidence that Binance is working with the Russian government, but the Russian market has long been very important to Binance.

In 2019, Zhao called Russia “our key market” and that “we are always looking for partners in any community, especially Russia.” In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Zhao said that financial sanctions are not “an issue specific to cryptocurrency,” and that blocking all Russians on a cryptocurrency exchange would be “unethical.”

Chobanyan’s response

Chobanyan also said that Binance has yet to make the $10 million donation promised in a statement in February. Binance said it would send money to Ukrainian intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for humanitarian aid.

They said they donated $10 million to the Ukrainian government. Well, I haven’t seen that $10 million. Where they went, nobody knows,

At the same time, the founder opposed the complete blocking of cryptocurrency transactions of ordinary citizens of the Russian Federation. He noted that there are a lot of Russian citizens who are in opposition and rely on cryptocurrencies. When taking measures against the Russian authorities, it is necessary to make sure that they do not affect the opposition, “which can help overthrow Putin’s regime,” Chobanyan added.

Nevertheless, crypto remains a viable option for Russians who oppose the war and wish to
stand up against Putin’s regime. Many civilians justifiably fear the
seizure of retail deposits and want to protect their capital. Purchasing digital assets is an
effective means by which ordinary Russian citizens can demonstrate their opposition to Putin’s
regime by moving their savings out of the financial system of the Russian ruble.

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