Russia is threatened bombing related the theft of 120 Bitcoin
Russia’s largest cities have repeatedly evacuated some courts, malls, kindergartens, and other venues over the past few weeks because of the threat of anonymous bombings.
According to Gulf News, the anonymous bomb threats are related to the alleged theft of 120 bitcoin from no longer existed cryptocurrency exchange WEX, a spin-off of BTC-e, used to be one of the world’s largest and most widely used cryptocurrency exchanges, where national currencies can be exchanged for bitcoins. Notably, Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev, who is under international sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, is accused of stealing the BTC worth around $900,000 and required to pay back.
Interfax reported that many bomb threat emails had been sent almost daily to courts in Saint Petersburg and Moscow since late November. In the latest report on Dec. 22, the head of Saint Petersburg courts’ press service, Darya Lebedeva publicized screenshots of emails that showed bombs had been set not only in the courts but also kindergartens, supermarkets, shopping malls, and maternity hospitals. Through emails, the bomb threats have forced authorities to evacuate an estimated 770,000 people over weeks.
The news announces 8,000 buildings have been targeted, and 15 courts in Moscow have been evacuated over the threats targeting Malofeyev. However, none of the bomb threat locations is proved real. Lebedeva said Saint Petersburg courts returned to work quickly after evacuations with no bombs found, but several received repeat threats.
The history of WEX exchange
BTC-e was taken down in 2017 at the time of the arrest of Alexander Vinnik, who faced money laundering charges in several countries. WEX rose soon after as a spin-off of the exchange, but it lost its official domain names in 2018 before it completely shut down.
Konstantin Malofeyev is a businessman and founder of an investment fund. He is on the United States and European Union sanctions lists for allegedly sponsoring pro-Russian separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine. Several Russian news outlets have discussed Ukraine’s potential contribution to the creation of bomb threats to the tension between both countries after Russia annexed Crimea.
A BBC article published that connected the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to the vanishment of $450 million worth of cryptocurrency from WEX. The article also mentioned Malofeyev as a pro-Kremlin Russian billionaire under U.S. sanctions, because his name was reported heard in a leaked audio recording discuss the importance of WEX being under FSB control.
Malofeyev has denied all accusations relating to WEX or stealing bitcoins. He also refused to answer any detailed questions for the BBC Russian Service investigation. Because he also leads an Orthodox Christian television channel that shows conservative opinions and directs a pro-life foundation, so the bomb threats have also been sent to Malofeyev’s Tsargrad channel.