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Patreon Suspends Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive For 'Funding Military Activity'

Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive has been suspended from Patreon, but is already raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin.

3 min read
A Ukraine soldier. Image: Shutterstock

Patreon, a content creator’s membership platform that can also be used as a source of crowdfunding, has suspended Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive after ruling that the NGO was violating its terms. 

Come Back Alive was established in 2014, when armed conflict broke out between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists. The NGO claims to provide armor and medical equipment to Ukrainian fighters. 

Come Back Alive director Taras Chmut told CNBC that over $300,000 was donated in the hours following Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Patreon quickly removed the NGO’s page and wrote a blog post reiterating that the platform is not “to be used for funding weapons or military activity.” In a tweet, the company added that, "Patreon does not allow funds raised on the platform to be used to support violence or purchasing of military equipment," and that Come Back Alive's page was suspended pending investigation.

Following its investigation of Come Back Alive, Patreon found that donations to the NGO were being used for three purposes: to buy more than 1,500 tablets with military software, to create and implement "new technical solutions" including models of of artillery weapons, and to train hundreds of snipers, combat engineers, gunners and drone operators.

Patreon clarified that all contributors will be refunded, and recommended that prospective donors instead send funds to charities such as the Ukrainian Red Cross SocietyVoices of Children, and Revived Soldiers Ukraine.

Crypto in the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Patreon may have booted Come Back Alive from its platform, but the Ukrainian NGO is one of many in this conflict that are accepting crypto donations. By early February, a report from blockchain analytics company Elliptic revealed that NGOs had raised over $570,000 in Bitcoin for the Ukrainian military. 

On Tuesday, Come Back Alive received $400,000 worth of Bitcoin in one day.

Nadya Tolokonnikova, founder of Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot, announced on Twitter today that she’s launching UkraineDAO alongside Trippy Labs and members of PleasrDAO, to raise funds for organizations supporting the beleaguered citizens of Ukraine. 

On the other side of the conflict, Russia’s wealthiest, both at home and abroad, could use crypto as a means of circumventing the crippling effects of global sanctions on Russian business. 

The Russian government has proposed legislation to recognize Bitcoin mining in energy-abundant regions as a “commercial activity” and to bring cryptocurrencies into the same regulatory framework as “foreign currencies”. 

Russia is the third-biggest Bitcoin mining nation in the world, after Kazakhstan and the United States; the country's Bitcoin mining has been largely unaffected by the invasion.

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