Thousands of bomb threats against public facilities have been reported in Russia after a news report linked a 2017 exchange hack of $450M in Bitcoin to prominent Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev.
Multiple evacuations have taken place after bomb threats targeted various Russian public facilities across the country. The threats have been linked to the shady 2017 exchange hack of WEX, which saw the disappearance of some $450M in Bitcoin (BTC). All evidence currently points to this hack being an inside job at the highest level of Russian governance.
Bitcoin Crime Linked to the Highest Level of Russian State Power
As the Moscow Times reported in November, Russia’s own intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), was apparently using the exchange as a piggy bank. The WEX exchange has had significant ties to the Russian underworld and shadow operations—from Ukrainian separatist financing to the hackers responsible for compromising the Democratic Party during the U.S. election 2016. Tapes have also emerged of oligarch Konstantin Malofeev discussing how WEX would fall under the FSB’s control.
In light of these reports, bomb threats have been occurring across the country for the past few weeks leading to several evacuations. As of now, the threats number in the thousands. District courts in “Shcherbinsky, Savyolovsky, Kuntsevsky, Dorogomilosky, Kuzminsky, Koptevsky, Khamovnichesky, Khoroshevsky, Chertanovsky, and Nikulinsky” have had to be evacuated as a precaution, according to a city court official speaking to Interfax.
In late December, malls and kindergartens were also targeted. In total, some 770,000 people have been evacuated in Moscow alone after threats were made to around 8,000 buildings. Those making the threats are demanding that Malofeev and those responsible pay back the Bitcoin they stole. The situation is still ongoing.
The Unknown Unknowns
There’s more to this story than we likely will ever know. How deep these dealings go-between Russian businessmen, the FSB, and WEX is unclear, but it was likely a multi-faceted operation—one which has caused $450M in Bitcoin to effectively “disappear.”
Russia has increasingly taken an interest in cryptocurrencies as a method of financing its operations and cyber-warfare, in some cases. However, unsurprisingly, the government is less keen on allowing cryptocurrencies to replace fiat in the country. In late November, BeInCrypto reported that the government was planning to issue a wholesale ban on all cryptocurrency payments in the country.