I was born in Central Ukraine, and I am very lucky to have my cousins, aunts, and other relatives alive and safe now

Yes, there are some inconveniences in their life, they are hiding in the basements at least for 3 hours a day. I could’ve never imagined a part of my family hiding from the Russian army in a bomb shelter.

I am also connected to Moscow: for instance, I graduated from a school there. Also, I spent the first COVID lockdown in Russia, and after I realized that I wanted to buy a flat in Kyiv. Now I live in Europe and I’m not sure that the apartment wasn’t destroyed.

6 years old Vitaly in Smila, Cherkasy region. A picture from Raskalovs' archive
6 years old Vitaly in Smila, Cherkasy region. A picture from Raskalovs' archive

Vitaly in Pripyat. Source: instagram.com/raskalov/. A screenshot by To The Moon
Vitaly in Pripyat. Source: instagram.com/raskalov/. A screenshot by To The Moon

When Russia invaded Ukraine, my friends from the crypto-community and I were determined to help and decided to raise money for the people suffering from the war

Since we all are artists and photographers, we came up with a decision to sell our art for crypto. An online auction seemed like a perfect solution. We called it RELI3F for Ukraine.

A logo of RELI3F—art-focused humanitarian aid initiative⁣. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/
A logo of RELI3F—art-focused humanitarian aid initiative⁣. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/

We started with preparing a smart contract smart contract. Our next step was to find trustworthy organizations that needed immediate help. The main criteria to choose was transparency—we wanted only 100% of it. That is why all the big organizations, and for example, The Red Cross, were immediately out. I want to support the people in need directly.

We also wanted to help artists from Ukraine and needed art stars to make our initiative attractive to collectors

Since I've been creating NFT for a while now, I knew some people there. It would be impossible to attract recognizable international artists on short notice like this without Andrew Wang on our team.

If you want to become someone in the NFT community, you need to know Andrew, he is an important NFT artist and pioneer. By the end of the day, we had a pool of artworks and foundations that would benefit from our auction.

A list of 37 artists from the first RELI3F NFT-drop. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon
A list of 37 artists from the first RELI3F NFT-drop. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon

When we had everything ready, we tweeted that the drop was out,—and…just in 30 seconds, we sold everything out! 

It took us only a half of a minute to raise $1 million, can you imagine this? After we closed the auction, we got $300,000 donated without any purchases—by the friends of our project.

It is unbelievable: our first drop was born from scratch after just 48 hours. This means that RELI3F was the first NFT initiative to raise money to help Ukraine appeared just 2 days after the war began (on the 26th of February). I also had no experience in charity at all, so for me, it was my first time participating in an activity like this.

We were lucky to get together all these incredible artists including AlienQueen, ArialxJade, Allison Harvard Burke

They are very popular, and their artworks are expensive. For example, the price of Allison Harvard Burke’s (“an artist, model, and former unwitting queen of 4chan... known as Creepy Chan”, said on her Foundation page—To The Moon) work alone can reach 1,111 ETH, that is about $3,209,214.

Allison’s Harvard self-portrait NFT artwork was previously sold for 3.3333 ETH ($9601.649). Source: foundation.app/@allisonharvard. A screenshot by To The Moon
Allison’s Harvard self-portrait NFT artwork was previously sold for 3.3333 ETH ($9601.649). Source: foundation.app/@allisonharvard. A screenshot by To The Moon

We mixed artworks of these big and well-known artists with some of the young and bright ones

Four of them were from Ukraine. To blend them properly and fairly we used the blind mint technology—the NFT protocol similar to collecting packs of trading cards: all items cost equally, and what was underneath each blind purchase was revealed only after it was closed.

The starting price for every blind mint NFT was $100 or 0,0347 ETH: but everyone knew that for that price they could get artwork by the recognizable artist

It meant they could’ve at least doubled their money. The luckiest ones could spend only 0,0347 ETH and get the NFT worth 0.5 ETH ($1,500).

A picture by Edik Katykhin
A picture by Edik Katykhin

That’s why RELI3F for Ukraine was THIS successful: for some people, our NFT-auction became an opportunity to make money

Investing only $100 they were getting a chance to become an owner of an NFT-masterpiece worth at least twice its initial price. Of course, they wanted to help Ukraine, but they also wanted to make some money and get a bonus from their charity. I'm not judging, it's a human nature and it’s perfectly normal.

Vitaly Raskalov shares how the Russian invasion of Ukraine affects him personally in his Instagram stories. Source: instagram.com/raskalov/. A screenshot by To The Moon.
Vitaly Raskalov shares how the Russian invasion of Ukraine affects him personally in his Instagram stories. Source: instagram.com/raskalov/. A screenshot by To The Moon.

The second drop-off was released almost one month later—on the 14th of April—and raised less money, only $260.000

But together with $1,3 million and royalties from the first drop it made something close to $2 million. If in the first drop we had only 4 creators from Ukraine, in the second one we had 10 Ukrainian artists. I would like to point out that some of them are in Ukraine right now: two are in Kharkiv, and one is in Kyiv, so these are people who need urgent evacuation (UPD: the artists are on their way to the safe zone right now.—To The Moon).

Artists of the second RELI3F drop. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon
Artists of the second RELI3F drop. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon

It turned out the NFT community has a lot of artists from Ukraine, more than from Russia. And we’ve got to help them. These people create the NFT culture with us. So, of course, we need to get them out of the hell the Russians have raised, and provide them with some sort of safety cushion for the near future.

An artwork by @sergius.world for the second RELI3F drop. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon
An artwork by @sergius.world for the second RELI3F drop. Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon

Where did the money go? Ukrainian army comes first

We’ve transferred the biggest part of the money to help the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine.—To The Moon), and they confirm that our donation has been received.

Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon
Source: instagram.com/reli3f_official/. A screenshot by To The Moon

Then comes media—The Kyiv Independent, to whom we have transferred $150 000. We want them to spread this money among smaller independent Ukrainian media.

We also transferred $20,000 to help African students stuck in Kharkiv. With this donation and our help eventually, they were able to evacuate, now the students are safe. 

There is one US organization I can trust—Razom for Ukraine (means “together” in Ukrainian.—To The Moon). It’s a big humanitarian organization made by Ukrainians from Odesa and Kyiv, some of those people I know personally. They used our $150 000 to buy medicine and thousands of necessary things for the children of the destroyed Mariupol. 

In Western Ukraine the cryptocurrency is used almost everywhere

We buy bulletproof vests for the Ukrainian army with Stablecoins, thanks to the Poles who accept USDT, DAI, and USDC. Now, if we order a thousand bulletproof vests that cost $250 000, we can easily pay that amount in coins—imagine taking that lot of money somewhere in cash!

Transferring it by SWIFT is also not a good idea, because wasting time on transactions means more and more dead and wounded. That is why it’s amazing that Czechs, Poles, and Slovaks do accept USDT—so you can pay as much money as it’s needed in just a second.

Since cryptocurrency is legal in Ukraine, you can officially buy and sell coins through our state app Дія (The official governmental app that provides all kinds of state services and replaces ID for citizens.—To The Moon). It's also tax-free. But we have zero percent tax on everything now because of the war.

There were few crypto ATMs in Kyiv and Lviv before. But now they are becoming a mass phenomenon. Stores in Ukraine prefer to accept stablecoins instead of paper bills.

The war will end, and we'll have a crypto paradise in Ukraine.

Source: instagram.com/raskalov/. A screenshot by To The Moon
Source: instagram.com/raskalov/. A screenshot by To The Moon