Russian citizens sought refuge in tether amid the brief mutiny of the Wagner mercenary group that shook their country. The ruble-denominated trading volume of the U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin spiked during the short-lived rebellion, market data revealed.
Russians Traded Millions of Dollars’ Worth of Tether in a Day of Unrest Triggered by Wagner
Many Russians have apparently tried to find safe haven in crypto when their nation was at the brink of a civil war a few days ago. On Saturday, as a revolt by the Wagner private army unfolded, trades between the Russian fiat and tether (USDT) surged to almost $15 million in value, or close to 1.3 billion rubles, according to blockchain data firm Ccdata.
The volume was up from $4 million on Friday, the Wall Street Journal noted in a report. On the same day, Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, posted a series of video and audio messages announcing his mercenaries will lead a “march for justice” against Russia’s military leadership, the culmination of a long-time feud with generals in Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
The market data for June 24 is based on trading on crypto exchanges that still support pairs with the Russian currency despite Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion. The largest such platforms include , Hitbtc, Cryptonex, and Coinsbit, Ccdata said, quoted by Bloomberg.
An increase in the trading volume does not directly indicate that ruble users were buying tether, clarified Jamie Sly, who heads communications at Ccdata. However, the spike could be attributed to “market participants looking toward a less volatile asset like USDT versus rubles, as similar trends were not observed for Bitcoin volumes,” Sly elaborated.
Ccdata’s findings were confirmed by a representative of the blockchain data firm Kaiko. The company’s Director of Research, Clara Medalie, highlighted that the ruble-denominated tether trading volume is at its highest since December, 2022.
Citizens of countries experiencing political and economic troubles have often sought refuge in cryptocurrencies during crises. Demand for tether in Turkey, for example, has been high since May amid record inflation of the Turkish lira, a report revealed earlier in June.
Right after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February, last year, major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH), alongside USDT, traded at premiums against the Ukrainian hryvnia following the decision of the country’s central bank to impose restrictions on cash withdrawals.
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