Major global cryptocurrency exchange Binance has hired former government officials from Russia and Ukraine to help develop its business in those countries, the company announced on Tuesday.
Olga Goncharova, until recently the head of the Bank of Russia’s Department of Collecting and Processing of Reports, joined Binance as its first director of government relations in the country. She had been leading her department at the Bank of Russia since 2014.
At Binance, she will build relationships with federal government bodies in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States as well as supervise the company’s interactions with trade associations in the region, according to the press release.
In Ukraine, Binance is hiring Kyrylo Khomiakov, who led the government’s Agency for Infrastructure Projects until June 2021, as director. He previously worked at banks including Intesa Sanpaolo, BNP Paribas and Mellon Ukraine, as well as the U.S. fintech company Fiserv, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In July last year, Ukraine passed a law allowing its central bank, the National Bank of Ukraine, to issue a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. The country’s parliament recently passed a bill regulating cryptocurrency-related activities and businesses in Ukraine, however, President Volodymyr Zelensky refused to sign it into the law, demanding amendments.
Alongside Goncharova in Russia, Binance hired Vladimir Smerkis, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur and consultant, as a director. Smerkis founded crypto startup Tokenbox and was formerly a deputy vice president at Russia’s internet services giant, Mail.ru Group. He was also one of the smaller investors in Telegram’s 2018 failed token sale.
Smerkis is taking on the role previously filled by Gleb Kostarev, now Binance’s director in the Eastern Europe. The local team in Russia and Eastern Europe has been growing over the past years, Kostarev told CoinDesk, so to supervise it, Binance now is boosting its local leadership. In summer 2020, Binance hired Evgeniy Pavlov, formerly with Bitfury, as its business development manager in Russia and CIS.
Smerkis told CoinDesk that companies he previously founded and consulted has been actively participating in Binance’s hackathons and competitions. Now he will be working on “making Binance’s presence in Russia stronger and help legitimization and mass adoption of blockchain in the country,” as well as attracting local developers to Binance’s own blockchain, Binance Smart Chain, and other initiatives.
Smerkis added that the company is talking to Russian regulators to clarify the country’s stance toward crypto. Russia recognized cryptocurrencies as a kind of taxable property in July 2020, however formal regulation of crypto is yet to be adopted.