Ukraine-based blockchain firm reports company 'stronger' one year into war

Sergey Vasylchuk, the chief executive officer of staking provider Everstake, said the company is continuing to move forward despite the continuing military conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Exactly one year ago today — Feb. 24, 2022 — Russian military forces invaded many areas of Ukraine in what has become one of the biggest conflicts in modern Europe since World War II. In the last twelve months, more than 8,000 civilians have died, many Ukrainian cities have been shelled with at least one almost leveled, and the country continues to be at risk of missile attack and ground invasions.

Vasylchuk said prior to Feb. 24, he had been making preparations to mitigate the risk to Everstake and its employees, but still said there were months when many people based in Ukraine were not able to work for different reasons. The Everstake CEO said he felt responsible for the livelihood of roughly 300 people: roughly 100 workers and their families.

“This […] forced me — I’m the management — to move forward,” said Vasylchuk. “We act mostly instantly […] We had a lot of help from the partners, from the other nations, from friends.”

Together with Ukrainian government officials, Kuna, and crypto exchange FTX, Everstake helped launch the crypto donation platform Aid for Ukraine in March 2022. The website reported more than $60 million in crypto and fiat contributions, going toward initiatives including military equipment, medical gear, and humanitarian projects.

“Essentially [these donations were] a small drop into the budget what we currently need, but at least it was something,” said Vasylchuk. “Bottom line, Everstake became much more stronger.”

According to the CEO, many of the Everstake employees continued to work from emergency shelters at various points throughout the last 12 months, facing noise from nearby explosions, loss of electrical power, and adjusting to the new “normal”:

“Right now, I can’t imagine what would scare us, what things could challenge us, to impress us — like ‘this is a disaster’. We definitely could be ready for anything right now.”

Amid attacks from Russian military forces with a workforce spread across different countries, Everstake employees also faced online rumors and conspiracy theories — possibly promulgated by Russia’s propaganda machine — that its platform was used for politically motivated money laundering. Among the theories pushed on social media included one suggesting that Aid for Ukraine’s funds had been funneled to the United States Democratic Party due to the site’s association with FTX and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s political donations.

Related: Ukrainian pharmacies enable crypto payments via Binance Pay

Though Vasylchuk describes the algorithms leading to the online attacks as “very professional”, he added he was still shocked some people in the U.S. were duped into spreading the rumors. North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn mentioned the conspiracy theory to his thousands of Twitter followers, and some news outlets picked up on the story.

The Everstake CEO compared the “unlivable” conditions for many businesses in Ukraine to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement actions in the United States, citing the agency’s recent crackdown on Kraken’s staking program. Though many parts of Ukraine are still under Russian military occupation, U.S. President Joe Biden secretly traveled to Kyiv on Feb. 20 to visit President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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