The aid is for those facing economic hardship due to participation in protests against the government of Alexander Lukashenko, “Europe’s last dictator.”
EXCLUSIVE: NGO from the Netherlands pays citizens of Belarus in bitcoin if they were fired for ideological and political reasons. Founded by tech entrepreneurs BYSOL fund thinks that bitcoin or a stablecoin could power an alternative economy in Belarus. https://t.co/bDVMXnystr
— Nick Schteringard (@schteringard) September 3, 2020
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.
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.