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Over the weekend, a massive digital billboard in Moscow displayed an unusual advertisement: a Russian darknet market was hawking its goods in the open.
The advertisement was for BlackSprut, a market that caters mostly to customers in CIS nations and other parts of Eastern Europe and is primarily focused on selling drugs. It featured a lovely woman dressed in fetish clothing and a cyberpunk-style mask. Here’s what was written in the ad:
“Come to me if you’re looking for the best.”
BlackSprut, which has over 1,100 suppliers and has been active since May 2021, is tracked by DarknetOne, a darknet market intelligence company.
How the advertisement originally appeared on the billboard is a vital question. There’s no doubt that Russia is a far more welcoming area for darknet markets to run than many other countries. It’s unclear whether the advertisement was displayed due to a hacked device or an unintentional oversight on the part of the billboard operator. It may be because the nation is making money through a variety of crypto operations to avoid the harsh sanctions imposed on it as a result of its illegitimate invasion of Ukraine as well.
It also helps that the market’s operators purportedly support Russia’s war and have even gone so far as to donate cryptocurrency to troops who are associated with Moscow.
What’s the connection between crypto and the war in Ukraine?
The connection between darknet markets and the current conflict is evident, said blockchain company Chainalysis, which has followed a small number of such transactions.
54 organizations that had profited from cryptocurrency donations since the battle began in February of that year were being tracked by Chainalysis as of July 2022. Some units have been able to purchase drones and drone kits, rifle optics, medical supplies, different radios, and a variety of other practical military equipment with the very tiny amounts recorded, which sum to just $2.2 million.
Moreover, some of the people and organizations requesting donations are doing so to bypass the US Office of Foreign Assets Control restrictions.