With around 100 million members, the church representing the dominant religion in Russia has no intention of accepting donations or offers of cryptocurrency.
According to a question-and-answer session broadcast on YouTube by Jesus portal, the chairman of the department of external relations with the Moscow Patriarchate Church, Hilarion Alfeyev, said that the Russian Orthodox Church, or ROC, does not plan to create its own digital currency, nor to accept cryptocurrency , including Bitcoin (BTC) for donations. However, Alfeyev added that it was possible to use other forms of technology to send money to church: phone calls.
“We are unlikely to accept donations from various cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, nor will we release our own currency,” he said. “I think it’s entirely possible to donate to church over the phone.”
This statement is somewhat of a softened stance for Alfeyev, who three years ago compared the cryptocurrency to a Ponzi scheme “behind which there is nothing”. At the time, he apparently did not distinguish between crypto and traditional banks, claiming that the currency “[paved] the way of usury, against which the Church has always spoken out. “
The ROC was reportedly in an “extremely difficult” financial situation last year as the pandemic closed its churches in Russia for two months. While it’s difficult to determine exactly what the church is worth, given the secrecy surrounding its spending, some 2014 reports suggest the ROC grossed $ 150 million in profits – monetary and non-spiritual – per year.
Russian lawmakers started the year by passing a bill that gives crypto legal status in the country but does not allow its use as a form of payment. President Vladimir Putin subsequently signed an executive order requiring certain public officials to disclose their crypto holdings by the end of June. However, a letter from the Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Protection published in December 2020 indicates that officials are expected to liquidate their digital assets by April.