According to the owner of the Russian cryptocurrency news outlet Forklog, Anatoly Kaplan, his media firm is being harassed by Ukrainian law enforcement officials. On December 15, agents from the Ukrainian Security Service (SSU) searched both Kaplan’s apartment and the Forklog offices in Odessa for an alleged association with U.S. nationals committing criminal activities.
Russian Cryptocurrency Media Outlet Forklog Says the Ukrainian Security Service Committed Unlawful Acts Against the Company
The Ukrainian Security Service (SSU) is a law enforcement entity that specializes in terrorism investigations, and counterintelligence activity. According to Mr. Kaplan owner of the regional cryptocurrency news publication, Forklog, agents revealed they were looking for clues in connection with a group of Ukrainians and U.S. nationals committing financial fraud. The SSU explained to Forklog representatives that the suspects used Forklog to exchange bitcoin for the national currency hryvna. Mr. Kaplan and the Russian media organization believe the search was “unwarranted,” as neither Forklog nor sites associated with the website have ever provided these types of services. “Forklog doesn’t even have software that provides such services,” Mr. Kaplan tells new.Bitcoin.com.
SSU Agents Confiscate a Computer, Cold Storage Devices, and Ethereum
During the search, Mr. Kaplan details that SSU agents confiscated his laptop, and several cold storage devices. Moreover one of the SSU agents tried to transfer some of Mr. Kaplan’s bitcoin funds to another address during the search. According to Mr. Kaplan, the only reason the agent stopped is because his lawyer called, and threatened the agents with robbery charges. However, the officials still confiscated Mr. Kaplan’s devices, and the very next day a large sum of ethereum was transferred from Mr. Kaplan’s wallet to another address.
“I believe that this strange situation perfectly illustrates one of the possible scenarios for the state-crypto community relationship — That is why we decided to make this public,” Anatoly Kaplan tells news.Bitcoin.com. “It’s not as much about protecting my personal interests as it is about protecting the interests of the entire community. This sends a warning to everyone who is in any way connected to bitcoin and blockchain technologies. It doesn’t matter if you are a public figure.”
Right now we are trying to return what we believe was unlawfully seized from us. We find the attempts to transfer cryptocurrencies to wallets controlled by SSU agents to be an extremely strange practice — During the search my lawyer has detected a score of other procedural violations, including turning off the camera.
The Ukrainian Security Services’ ‘Search Season’ Now Targets Cryptocurrency Related Businesses
Mr. Kaplan and his lawyer say this isn’t the first time SSU agents have harassed and seized the property of individuals involved in the tech industry. ‘Search Season’ as it’s called in the Ukraine, started in early 2015 as SSU officials have been raiding well-known figures in the IT industry from time to time. Bitcoin and blockchain related startups “are no different,” says Mr. Kaplan describing a Ukrainian case involving the Kuna Bitcoin Agency. Kuna’s founder Michael Chobanian also had his residential apartment searched by SSU officers. Further, even more recently Mr. Kaplan says SSU officials have raided mining farms this year as well.
Forklog and Mr. Kaplan’s attorney say they are going to take legal action against the SSU agents involved with Forklog’s illegal search and seizure.
“We expect a prompt and proper reaction from the authorities and a swift return of seized Imacs. As for the return of seized cryptocurrency and SSU agents’ legal liability, I can only say that this will be a highly emblematic and evincive case,” Mr. Kaplan’s lawyer concludes.
What do you think about Forklog and other cryptocurrency related businesses being harassed by SSU agents? Let us know what you think about this case in the Ukraine in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, Pixabay, and Forklog.