HomeCryptoCrypto news from Russia: billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin owns one of the largest...

Crypto news from Russia: billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin owns one of the largest Bitcoin wallets

Crypto news: a Bitcoin (BTC) wallet with a value of $2.6 billion was recently spotted and apparently has ties to a Russian-linked billionaire contractor. 

Although it may be speculation, Yevgeny Prigozhin‘s controversial business activities may have benefited from the anonymity offered by the digital currency.

We recall that as part of the actions taken by Russia’s OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Prigozhin’s company, known as Wagner, was declared a terrorist entity in July 2023. 

See below for all the details. 

The fourth largest crypto Bitcoin wallet linked to Russia’s billionaire 

The sudden death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the private military company Wagner (PMC), raised speculation about his ownership of one of the most significant Bitcoin (BTC) wallets. 

On the evening of 23 August, news of a plane crash in the Tver region circulated through Telegram channels and media outlets. It was reported that the plane was carrying Prigozhin and commander Dmitry Utkin, both of whom died along with all ten people on board.

The BBC reported that the victims were preliminarily identified, while authorities launched an investigation into the crash involving Prigozhin. 

Immediately after the incident, allegations surfaced online regarding Prigozhin’s alleged possession of a sizable crypto wallet. 

It is estimated to contain about 100,000 Bitcoin, with a value of about $2.6 billion at the current rate. About 70% of this reserve is assumed to be stored in cold wallets, while the rest appears to be distributed among the cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and BTC-W

From a comparative perspective, the third largest Bitcoin wallet contains 118,300 coins, while the fifth largest holds 94,643 coins. If the information is correct, Prigozhin would rank among the five largest Bitcoin holders.

Despite the absence of concrete evidence, at present at least, regarding his involvement in cryptocurrency transactions or ownership of such a large wallet, circumstances suggest a possible interest of Prigozhin in digital assets.

Russia-Ukraine tension and the crypto emergency as a financial solution

As we know, early 2022 saw the rise of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with Russia subjected to a vast number of sanctions. 

This has led to significant withdrawals by major financial institutions, including Visa and Mastercard, which have restricted cross-border transactions. As a result, more and more Russians are considering cryptocurrency as a practical solution to this problem.

In July 2023, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly classified PMC Wagner as a terrorist entity. However, even before this designation, the company’s legal position was debated, potentially threatening its financial activities. 

Although Wagner was believed to pay its mercenaries in cash, the June 2023 mutiny prompted the PMC to shift operations to Russia and Belarus, where transactions in physical currency are still possible. 

However, Wagner’s presence in Africa suggests that cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, could facilitate smoother, long-distance financial transactions due to their popularity in hidden markets.

Importantly, if taken with proper security precautions, Bitcoin transactions can be anonymous, making it a preferred currency in the darknet world. 

However, it is also worth noting that the revolt in which Wagner was involved in June 2023 led to an increase in stablecoin purchases among Russian citizens.

Prigozhin in Africa: plans and implications

Yevgeny Prigozhin, before his death, had stated that he was in Africa with the goal of

“making Russia even bigger on all continents and Africa even freer.” 

Specifically, a video circulating on pro-Russian military blogs shows Prigozhin with a rifle in a wasteland, wearing camouflage clothing. In the background, a truck and two other men in camouflage clothing can be seen.

In the video, Prigozhin states that the temperature is over 50 degrees Celsius and that Wagner is performing reconnaissance and search operations. However, CNN has been unable to confirm the exact location where the video was shot or authenticate its veracity.

We emphasize that this video comes several months after Prigozhin attempted a failed mutiny against the Russian military authority. In the video, Prigozhin states the following: 

“Justice and happiness for African peoples. Let’s make it a nightmare for ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other criminal groups. We are recruiting true bogatyrs and continue to fulfill tasks that we have been assigned and promised to complete.”

Alessia Pannone
Alessia Pannone
Graduated in communication sciences, currently student of the master's degree course in publishing and writing. Writer of articles from an SEO perspective, with care for indexing in search engines.