Ukrainian Bitcoin Jesus Searched by Law Enforcement

News and Analysis

On the night of November 3, the premises of Mikhail Chobanyan, VP at Innovecs and founder of Kuna, were searched by anti-cybercrime department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the resolution of prosecutor’s office of Shevchenko district (Kyiv).

“I’m no Korban, but a couple of hours ago my house was searched. Visiting were people from anti-cybercrime department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs having a ruling by Shevchenko district court. 1 year (the occurrence was opened on November 30, 2014!), 1 interrogation, 5 clarifications, and 3 packages of submitted documents later, the anti-cybercrime enforcement suddenly suspected me in having something to do with bitcoin. The judge agreed that searching my house was vitally necessary for investigating a cryptocurrency case. Certainly, they tried to keep the lawyers away,” writes Chobanian at his page on Facebook.

According to the entrepreneur, Ukraine’s bitcoin community has been closely cooperating with the National Bank, baking industry, lawyers, journalists, and society in order to promote blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, however, ‘a bunch of illiterate investigators managed to cast discredit’ on all those efforts.

“While the world’s top 20 economies invest hundreds of millions dollars in development of the area, we develop it for free. The search was performed following the decision by a judge who sincerely thinks that cryptocurrency is outside the law because there is no such word in the law. Say, is there ‘gadget’ in the law? Or ‘tab computer’? Or, maybe, conscience and adequacy?”Chobanyan writes in his post.

Notably, Chobanyan is the founder of CIS’s first bitcoin embassy, and actively participates in the work of Bitcoin Foundation Ukraine. September 2015, he launched a competence center dubbed Blockchain (or a lab for research and integration of the technology) in cooperation with American technological company Innovecs. Moreover, Chobanyan actively promotes benefits of blockchain in finance amongst financial and banking organizations of Ukraine. For that reason, some call him Ukrainian Bitcoin Jesus.

Apparently Ukraine, just like Russia, has some discordance between officials in relation to cryptotech. Notably, Ukrainian IT market develops with good dynamics, the country is the CIS’s leading supplier of IT specialists to international markets, and a good share of local IT market is occupied by outsourcing companies. For instance, Looksery, a start-up from Odessa, has received investment in the amount of $150m from Snapchat. Currently, it is the biggest sum any start-up has ever received in Ukraine.

However, ineptitude of particular officials may threaten development of blockchain technology and bitcoin, as well as the IT as a whole in Ukraine.

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