Leonid Volkov says supporters of Alexei Navalny cryptocurrencies

An ally of Navalny advocates for cryptocurrency funding

An ally of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has urged supporters to switch to cryptocurrency donations in the face of a crackdown that threatens to make donations illegal.

Russia has designated Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation and regional groups as "extremist," putting an end to the network that President Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critic has built.

Donating to "extremist" groups is against the law.

On June 9, a court will consider whether to grant a prosecutor's request to ban Navalny's movement.

For years, he and his allies have crowdfunded donations from their supporters through their foundation's website and other platforms, including bitcoin, which is untraceable by Russian authorities.

On Wednesday, Leonid Volkov, a close Navalny ally based abroad, said the group needed to continue fundraising but needed to protect its supporters.

Leonid Volkov (left) advises Alexei Navalny (right) supporters to utilize cryptocurrencies.
Leonid Volkov (left) advises Alexei Navalny (right) supporters to utilize cryptocurrencies.

On Wednesday, the group's regular donation page on its website was unavailable and appeared to have been removed.

Volkov made no mention of such a move.

"It's not as simple as it used to be - money movement within the Russian banking system is clear and transparent to the Russian state, and as a result, you and I need to get away from it," Volkov wrote in YouTube comments.

"Because the state is preventing us from collecting donations in a simple and understandable manner through the traditional banking system, this means we will patiently teach everyone how to use cryptocurrencies, and we will learn ourselves," he explained.

Navalny is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for alleged parole violations.