A man suspected of donating cryptocurrency to fund Ukraine’s war effort has been formally charged with ‘high treason’ by the FSB, Russia’s national intelligence service.
Alexander Vechirko, who was born in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia but has since obtained Russian citizenship, is the first Russian national to be formally charged with sending crypto donations to Ukraine.
He was first arrested in June this year, and was finally charged after several months of investigations. According to the FSB, investigations on the case are still ongoing. However, the FSB has thus far revealed that the coins Vechirko donated were used to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles, thermal imaging sights, ammunition, and medical uniforms.
Vechirko has since been transferred to Moscow to face charges, an indication that the government is likely trying to make an example of him. Law enforcement agencies have confirmed that Vechirko has been denied bail, and that he must remain in custody for a further three months ahead of his trial.
Since a presidential decree in April, the penalty for treason-related offences in Russia has been life imprisonment.
Vechirko is not the only Russian national to face crypto-related treason charges.
Earlier this month, social media influencer Valeria Fedyakina, also known as cryptomama, was arrested on fraud charges in Moscow.
Fedykina denies that she sent money to the Ukrainian military, and instead claims that she supports Russia’s ‘special military operation’ and would like to donate funds to the Russian armed forces.
Since the start of the war, Ukraine has been soliciting donations in the form of cryptocurrency in order to fund its defence. Earlier this year, Russian mega-bank Sberbank claimed that over $5 million worth of crypto had been sent from Russian wallets to Ukraint-based recipients since the start of the conflict.