Dutch NGO is Sending Bitcoin Aid to Protestors in Belarus

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In Brief
  • Laid-off Belarusian protestors can now apply for aid in Bitcoin from a dutch NGO.

  • The crowd-funded organization has been created by members of the Belarusian diaspora.

  • Some observers see it as the birth of a free Belarusian crypto-economy.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

A Netherlands-based non-profit organization aptly named the Belarusian Solidarity Fund has started paying compensation in Bitcoin to protestors in Belarus.

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The aid is for those facing economic hardship due to participation in protests against the government of Alexander Lukashenko, “Europe’s last dictator.”

According to an article by ForkLog, the non-profit fund was founded by tech entrepreneurs Yaroslav Likhachevsky and Alexey Kuzmenkov, themselves members of the Belarusian diaspora.

The founders are part of the group that believes the Belarusian presidential elections on August 9 were rigged, and the police’s subsequent actions against peaceful protesters illegal.

According to the non-profit’s website, the fund is designed to,

support everyone who lost their jobs because of their beliefs and wants to live in a free and democratic Belarus.

However, the aid comes with a set of requirements and is intended for civil servants or employees of state-owned businesses.

To qualify for a stimulus of 1,500 euros in bitcoin, applicants must provide documentation of dismissal or participation in protests and publicly declare their political position.

The fund was launched in mid-August and has already raised 2 million euros from over 30,000 donors. The money has been collected through different fundraising avenues such as Facebook, PayPal, Revolut, and various cryptocurrencies.

Source: Belarus Solidarity Fund

The payments themselves are going out in the form of bitcoin, because according to reports,

the authorities are actively cutting off receipts from foreign accounts, conducting searches at the border to prevent foreign currency from being imported.

The fund provides instructions for recipients who want to exchange bitcoin for fiat, but is discouraging people from doing this. The Belarusian Ruble has depreciated almost 10% against the dollar since the election. And the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has gone so far as to warn that the Belarusian economy is on the verge of collapse.

The fund aims to be a lifeline to those stuck in the crossfire of political turmoil and is notable for its use of decentralized rails to deliver economic aid. The founders believe that in the face of governmental liquidity restrictions and lending clampdowns, crypto could be a way to keep the lights on.

As reported by ForkLog, Yevgeny Romanenko, an ambassador for the Trustee Wallet, who was temporarily jailed during the protests, was even more direct,

The laid-off workers are already receiving support in bitcoin. The next step is to sell goods and services for cryptocurrency, bypassing fiat money. There are already dozens of stores ready to put up price tags in cryptocurrencies. Before our eyes, the birth of the Belarusian crypto-economy is taking place.

The Belarusian Solidarity Fund’s work is made possible by a team of volunteers. You can support it in bitcoin and ethereum or learn more about it here.

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Colin is a writer, researcher, and content marketer with a keen interest in the future of money. His writing has been featured in numerous cryptocurrency publications, and his holdings don't amount to more than a handful of BAT.

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