The cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that it would not “unilaterally” freeze Russian accounts.
Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, called on cryptocurrency exchanges to freeze the accounts of Russian citizens.
I’m asking all major crypto exchanges to block the addresses of Russian users.
It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians but also to sabotage ordinary users.
Binance said that it would block the accounts of sanctioned Russian citizens but that it would not “unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts.”
“Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe. To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.”
CNBC reached out to Kraken to ask the exchange about freezing accounts (aka to apply pressure on Kraken). The CEO of Kraken, Jesse Powell, wrote on Twitter that Kraken “cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so.”
The cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin told CNBC it would not freeze Russian user accounts.
Johnny Lyu, CEO of KuCoin
“As a neutral platform, we will not freeze the accounts of any users from any country without a legal requirement. And at this difficult time, actions that increase the tension to impact the rights of innocent people should not be encouraged.”
DNL: Although these answers seem like somewhat of a win for the decoupling of cryptocurrency and state-sponsored financial censorship or arbitrary restrictions, the statements from the exchanges read like vaguely concealed calls for more sanctions against Russian citizens. I do not really follow exchanges so I do not know much about their owners. But from what I can tell, CZ seems unlikely to cave to the demands of outraged Twitter users. These centralized exchanges are obviously happy to comply with law enforcement in most cases though. And obviously all that matters to these companies is the bottom line.
Nobody should be keeping cryptocurrency in wallets outside of their control.