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In Kyiv, Trying To Fill Lenin's Shoes With A Bitcoin Hero


The bitcoin and blockchain industry has been growing rapidly in Ukraine. (illustrative photo)

KYIV -- Move over Lenin, there's a new kid on the blockchain.

An initiative to erect a monument of Satoshi Nakamoto in Ukraine's capital is gaining momentum.

The idea is to place the statue right where a red Karelian stone figure of the Soviet Union's founder, Vladimir Lenin, stood before it was toppled amid Euromaidan unrest more than four years ago. The project would be the first of its kind and is part of a global campaign to honor Satoshi -- the unknown, presumed creator of bitcoin and blockchain technology -- around the world.

"We are engaging in the construction of monuments to the great man who for everyone is a new symbol of freedom," said Andriy Moroz, the Ukrainian co-founder of a group dedicated to erecting monuments to Nakamoto.

"The monument to Lenin was a symbol of last centuries that had already passed, leaving conflicting feelings in the hearts of people. Satoshi and the decentralization of society are a new era and new opportunities," he argued.

The statue of Vladimir Lenin on Shevchenko Boulevard in Kyiv was toppled by protesters during Maidan protests in December 2013.
The statue of Vladimir Lenin on Shevchenko Boulevard in Kyiv was toppled by protesters during Maidan protests in December 2013.

True to its cyberroots, the first stage of the process is to create a digital Satoshi statue that would be visible through a smartphone app to be created by Raccoon World, a robotics and virtual reality company.

The app would use a plinth placed at the site to show a virtual statue when a smartphone or similar device such as a computer tablet are directed at it, Pokemon Go-style.

A group called the Satoshi Nakamoto Republic, which is spearheading the campaign, said it plans to file a petition and apply for permission from Kyiv city officials to erect an actual statue at the site.

"In case the permission for the monument installation will be received, it will be erected in Kyiv, on boulevard Shevchenko, on the site of the monument to Lenin," the group said in a statement.

"In case the petition will be declined, the monument to Satoshi Nakamoto will be erected on another location. Now there is a wave of interest on the part of business to erect the monument on one of the territories of the contemporary technological business centers of Kyiv," it added.

Bitcoin Boom

Ukraine has become swept up in the cryptocurrency world, with the bitcoin and blockchain industry growing exponentially even as the virtual currency takes a battering this year over security and hacking fears, electricity rates, a drop in transactions, and plain old skepticism.

With average monthly wages of around $250 and cryptocurrencies drawing record acceptance from retailers and relatively mild rebukes from regulators, many Ukrainians have raced to set up bitcoin mining operations where analysts say they can make as much as 10 times that.

Cryptocurrency mining involves using powerful computers to run software for days and weeks on end to complete complicated calculations to help maintain a distributed ledger of transactions recorded in blockchain -- groups of transactions recorded in blocks that are in turn linked to each other to form a chain.

Miners who confirm transactions are rewarded with transaction fees.

The flurry of activity has pushed Ukraine's government, concerned that digital assets may be exploited by criminals and could present a growing national security risk, to create a working group to draft regulations for the industry.

The campaign for a Nakamoto monument got a boost last month when Ukrainian entrepreneur Aleksandr Soroka, creator of Startup Network, an investment platform where entrepreneurs find private investors, donated 1 bitcoin to support the initiative (worth around $6,750 on June 12).

He says that Ukrainians are excited about blockchain technology and the country has a lot of "proactive" people who can build an industry around it.

"But first they need help from parliament and support from people in government, and they aren't getting a whole lot of that right now," Soroka, who became a "Crypto-Angel of Kyiv" with the donation, added.

The regulations can't come quick enough, given the acceleration of the cryptocurrency industry.

Kyiv-based National Credit Bank has created a nationwide network of almost 5,000 payment terminals, called BNK-ATMs, to give easy access to customers looking to buy bitcoin for cash.

The terminals also enable users to pay household bills such as utilities with bitcoin.

Bank officials say they established the network because of growing demand by Ukrainians for a cheaper, safer, and more convenient payment system, especially with regard to overseas e-commerce transactions.

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