NewsCoins

This Week on Crypto Twitter: Ukraine Cancels Airdrop, OpenSea Bans Users in Iran

It was also a big week in celebrity NFTs, with Christina Aguilera and Snoop Dogg grabbing headlines.

4 min read
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Illustration by Mitchell Preffer for Decrypt

As the war in Ukraine entered its second week, Twitter proved to be both an invaluable source of information and a great fundraising tool for humanitarian and defense efforts.

It was through Twitter that Ukraine’s government first started soliciting Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tether donations—a crowdfunding drive that's so far raised well over $50 million.

On Wednesday, Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Federov tweeted that “Dogecoin exceeded Russian ruble in value” and “now even meme [sic] can support our army.”

Earlier that day, Ukraine’s official Twitter page had announced an “airdrop” would be taking place for all those who had contributed crypto to the resistance. A snapshot was to be taken on Wednesday, presumably to record all the addresses that had sent donations, but details were thin.

On Thursday, Federov announced that the airdrop had been canceled, adding: “Instead, we will announce NFTs to support Ukrainian Armed Forces soon. We DO NOT HAVE any plans to issue any fungible tokens.”

Crypto podcaster Cobie tweeted “this is the best rug ever,” referring to a “rug pull,” which in cryptospeak means a type of exit scam where a company solicits funds from the public only to disappear suddenly without fulfilling promises (usually a token drop).

Federov hasn’t yet offered any details as to what kind of NFTs Ukraine’s government will be releasing, but one DAO has already beaten them to the punch.

A group of activists including Nadya Tolokonnikova, founder of Russian protest punk group Pussy Riot, banded together last week to form a DAO to support NGOs aiding civilians during the war. One of Ukraine DAO’s first initiatives was to auction an NFT of Ukraine’s flag. The auction ended on Wednesday and raised 2,250 ETH—about $6.75 million at the time of sale.

One part of the crypto debate around the Russia-Ukraine conflict is whether Russian oligarchs can use crypto to evade sanctions. Last Sunday, Ukraine’s Federov called on every crypto exchange to ban Russian users, a move that got the full support of former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, although Binance and Kraken both immediately declined.

Coinbase took a little longer to respond. CEO Brian Armstrong wrote a nine-tweet thread explaining that he didn’t think Russia could use crypto in any meaningful way to escape sanctions because blockchains are public ledgers, and thus fully traceable. 

Armstrong also declined to ban Russian users, writing: “Some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed. Many of them likely oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too.”

Sanctions

On Thursday, Iranian NFT enthusiasts woke up to find they’d been banned from OpenSea. Local NFT creator @Bornosor tweeted: “Woke up to my @opensea trading account being deactivated/deleted without notice or any explanation, hearing lots of similar reports from other Iranian artists & collectors. What the hell is going on? Is OS straight up purging its users based on their country now?”

Amir Soleymani, owner of the Adelia Art Gallery in Liverpool, England, highlighted the fact that OpenSea’s Iranian user ban was an example of how the NFT industry currently lacks “a truly decentralized marketplace.” He wrote: “Those who desire to dodge the sanctions will do so regardless and this kind of sanctions against civilians is not going to work at all.”

On Thursday, an OpenSea representative confirmed to Decrypt that the ban was due to Iran being on the U.S. sanctions list.

Celebs

Aside from politics, this week’s Crypto Twitter also yielded a few exciting celebrity NFT announcements. On Monday, Christina Aguilera shared her World of Women (WoW) NFT Billboard cover. The WoW/Billboard collaboration is putting tokenized portraits of Aguilera, Mariah Carey, and Madonna on the cover of Billboard’s annual Women in Music edition.

The covers are hand drawn by the inimitable Yam Karkai, whose stylus has set a high aesthetic benchmark for the WoW project, attracting high-profile customers like Eva Longoria and Reese Witherspoon.

On Tuesday, Snoop Dogg announced the OpenSea auction of a new EDM single with a cover taken from the Mutant Ape Yacht Club. The 50-year-old rapper tweeted: “Not the 1st time tha Dogg has dabbled in EDM. Checc [sic] my single with Mutant Ape #23446. You buy it, you own it.”

Electronic musician and record producer Dillon Francis announced on Wednesday that he’d bought his first Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, which he swapped in as his Twitter profile picture.

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