Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet launched a crypto donations page back in April last year after being penalised by the Russian government. Now, with their content blocked in Russia, Meduza is being forced to rely on its international audience for donations, and encouraging payment in cryptocurrencies.
Bloomberg’s recent report on Putin’s crackdown on independent journalists revealed how the new restrictions on free press has forced many media outlets out of the country - or has led others to shut down operations entirely.
“We couldn’t predict that the sanctions of Western governments will come first and destroy our crowdfunding,” forcing Meduza to start soliciting crypto and rely entirely on money from foreigners for the first time, Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov said.
According to statement published by Meduza’s Editor in Chief Ivan Kolpakov, Meduza was placed in the category of a “foreign agent” news outlet, which made the agency a persona non grata in the eyes of the law, and complicated their relationship with their sources.
Last year Meduza’s Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov noted:
“[By] designating us as foreign agents, the Russian authorities are trying to convince our sources that we are enemies of the state. It’s highly likely that our new status will rob us of many vital sources and complicate our access to leading experts. Make no mistake: the authorities’ goal is to kill Meduza.”
In addition to labelling free-press outlets such as Meduza as a “foreign agent”, journalists and staff also carry the risk of being labelled as such, which means they too would be forced to report all their income and expenses to Russia’s Justice Ministry.
Following the invasion of Ukraine by Putin, the global sanctions on Russia have also had an impact on free press such as Meduza, and their ability to operate. The censored Russian news agency has essentially been outlawed during the invasion, and the Kremlin has also reportedly censored social media, blocking Facebook and Instagram for “extremist activities”.
While Meduza’s content is now blocked in Russia, users can circumvent these restrictions and access the content through VPNs.
With the platform’s journalists mostly resettling in Riga, and following the economic sanctions placed on Russia, Meduza has provided a donations page which enables contributors to donate in Bitcoin or Ethereum, and provides a step by step on how they can also donate anonymously through Monero.