The threats in Russia have been linked to the shady 2017 Bitcoin exchange hack of WEX – the disappearance of some $450M in Bitcoin
Following news regarding a $ 450 million Bitcoin exchange hack in 2017 with famous Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev, thousands of bomb threats to public facilities have emerged in Russia. Many evacuations took place after bomb threats targeted various Russian public facilities across the country. The warnings have been linked to the fresh 2017 exchange hack of WEX, which saw the disappearance of about $ 450 million Bitcoin (BTC). All evidence currently indicates that this hack is an internal affair at the highest level of Russian governance.
For nearly a month, anonymous blackmailers have threatened to blow up courts, schools, shopping malls, etc. unless someone steals 120 Bitcoin from the WEX exchange to their address
The threats in Russia are serious
As the Moscow Times reported in November, the Russian intelligence agency, the Federal Security Agency (FSB), clearly used the exchange as a piggy bank. The WEX exchange has a significant relationship with the underworld and Russia’s shadow operations from Ukraine’s separatist finances to hackers responsible for compromising with the Democratic Party in the 2016 U.S. election. Tapes also emerged on oligarch Konstantin Malofeev discussing how WEX will belong to the FSB.
Before these reports, bomb threats have been occurring across the country in the past few weeks, leading to several evacuations. As of now, the number of risks is in the thousands. District courts in “Shcherbinsky, Savyolovsky, Kuntsevsky, Dorogomilosky, Kuzminsky, Koptevsky, Khamovnichesky, Khoroshevsky, Chertanovsky, and Nikulinsky” were evacuated for prevention.
No one was hurt, nor were any bombs detonated, but 750,000 people have had to evacuate buildings | Source: Interfax
By the end of December, malls and kindergartens were also targeted. In total, about 770,000 people were evacuated in Moscow alone after threats were made to about 8,000 buildings. Threats are asking Malofeev and those responsible for returning the Bitcoin they stole. The situation is still ongoing.
Bitcoin legal situation in Russia is tense
There is more to this story than we might know. How deeply these transactions take place among Russian business people, the FSB, and the WEX is unclear. Still, likely, a multi-faceted activity has adequately cost $ 450 million in Bitcoin.
Russia has increasingly been interested in cryptocurrencies as a means of financing operations and cyberwar, in some cases. Unsurprisingly, however, the government is less concerned with allowing cryptocurrencies to replace fiat in the country. At the end of November, the Russian government said it was planning to issue a wholesale ban on all domestic cryptocurrency payments.
In Russia, payment by cryptocurrency has grown, as some online shops, cafes, and bars are known to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment. The country also boasts a growing economy of remote workers providing services to customers outside the border. These freelance workers, like their counterparts, around the world, use Bitcoin as a means to eliminate insane fees from payment processors. In a world where the government dictates how you spend your money, Bitcoin has proven to be the perfect asset for many.
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