The Russian Justice Ministry has added Meduza, one of the country’s leading independent news agencies, to its list of “foreign agent” media outlets, a label that poses a significant threat to the agency’s future, according to a statement published by Meduza’s Editor-in-Chief Ivan Kolpakov.
“[By] designating us as foreign agents, the Russian authorities are trying to convince our sources that we are enemies of the state,” Kolpakov explained. “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.”
The designation has several financial impacts on Meduza, according to the statement. It would require the agency to add a “foreign agent” label in the place where it typically places advertisements. Its salaried writers could also become designated as “individual foreign agents,” and forced to report their income and expenses to the country’s justice ministry, with reporting errors subject to fines or felony charges.
In an attempt to improve the likelihood of its survival following this designation, Meduza has launched a donations page with a bitcoin address, a PayPal option, as well as addresses for other cryptocurrencies, such as ETH and BNB. Supporters can copy the bitcoin address from the web page and paste it into their own wallets as a receiving address in order to donate BTC.
Bitcoin’s properties make it particularly well suited for allowing permissionless donations to Meduza. For instance, its censorship resistance ensures that no government or third party can stop or seize transactions. At the same time, Bitcoin’s decentralized nature enables private contributions to be sent and received from anywhere in the world.
Many activist companies have been able to stay in business thanks to bitcoin donations. Famous nonprofit whistleblower site WikiLeaks received thousands of bitcoin transactions after being blocked by major payment providers. And Nigerian advocacy group The Feminist Coalition found a sovereign lifeline in Bitcoin after finding its fundraising restricted by legacy financial channels.