On 5 October 2023, webeconomy.info published an interview with Lyudmyla Kozlovska, President of the Open Dialogue Foundation, on solving the problem of people and NGOs excluded from the financial system. She talked about how Bitcoin has become a tool for defending human rights, delivering humanitarian aid and surviving in the face of political persecution.
It should be recalled that in August 2018, Lyudmyla Kozlovska was deported from Poland and the European Union and cut off from the European financial system as a result of a negative assessment by the Internal Security Agency (ABW). The Law and Justice authorities considered her a threat to national security, although ABW’s negative opinion was only based on conjecture rather than concrete evidence. Eventually, various EU states granted her permission to enter the Schengen Area, and she moved to Belgium. She is still unable to return to Poland. It was at that time when ODF’s President began to take an interest in cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, as a potential tool in the fight for the rule of law.
“As the Open Dialogue Foundation, we started using Bitcoin and stable cryptocurrencies as a kind of ‘a bank of last resort’. We were forced to do so, as we were deprived of the right to use traditional financial instruments, such as banking or insurance services, caused by political persecution organised by authoritarian or illiberal states where we defended the rule of law, judges, and human rights, such as: Kazakhstan, Moldova under the rule of oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, and unfortunately, Poland,” Kozlovska explained, adding that: “Eventually, banks in Belgium, where I was forced to move from Poland, started terminating our bank accounts one by one. When we started to analyse what was happening, while defending our right to use traditional financial instruments, we used Bitcoin to fundraise, to survive, being in the heart of Europe. For us, it is not something abstract, for us — it is a tool to defend human rights.”
Then, she explained that the second reason for using Bitcoin was to deliver humanitarian aid after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Foundation used Bitcoin for fundraising, to buy protective and medical equipment for Ukrainian defenders. This was possible as early as on the second day of the war thanks to the speed of transactions on the Bitcoin network. To date, the organisation has managed to raise more than EUR 7 million and deliver more than 7,000 pieces of protective equipment to Ukraine.
Bitcoin is also providing support to families of political prisoners and human rights defenders in authoritarian countries. ODF is leading the ‘Building Real Change Coalition‘ (BTC Coalition) in Europe, which includes activists from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Turkey, Russia, African countries, and Palestine. “We are all experiencing the same problem; we cannot use traditional financial instruments, because regimes can control and weaponise our bank data against networks of activists and human rights defenders in these countries,” Kozlovska explains.
We encourage you to read or watch the entire interview:
Cover photo: webeconomy.info