Telegram messenger founder and CEO Pavel Durov reportedly donated about $90,000 worth of bitcoin (BTC) to help alleviate the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic in Russia.
Egor Zhukov, a student political activist who organized a crowdfunding campaign to help people cope with the pandemic-related crisis, announced Durov donated 10 BTC to the effort.
Zhukov wrote on his Instagram Wednesday night the donation will help volunteers buy more food and deliver it to people who can’t afford it. The initiative was named Vzaimipomosch, which in Russian means “The Mutual Help.”
“Pavel reached out to us himself and offered help,” Zhukov told CoinDesk. He added that a part of the donation has already been spent. The donation is a large one for Russia: To put it in perspective, this amount of money can buy an apartment in Moscow. Vzaimipomosch’s bitcoin wallet saw some 14 BTC in donations since March.
The movement is not alone in accepting donations in crypto: Some Russian NGOs also accept bitcoin, ether (ETH) and even other cryptos from supporters. Among them are internet freedom movement Roskomsvoboda and Russia Behind Bars, a fund for helping Russian prison inmates. A popular opposition politician, Alexey Navalny, is also raising funds in crypto for his activist network.
Telegram itself isn’t currently using crypto directly. The company’s blockchain project, TON, was shut down earlier this month after a prolonged legal fight with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleged Telegram’s token pre-sale was an unregistered securities offering.