A court in Ekaterinburg, Russia has set a hearing for May 15 regarding the Russia’s crypto community representatives’ complaint against the government’s ban of Bitcoin-related websites.
The founder of btcsec.com, Ivan Tikhonov, believes that the court hearings have so far been positive for the banned websites despite the ban not being lifted as of yet.
The court has rejected the prosecutor office’s demands to stop the appeal. Now, the representatives of the websites will have a chance to present their case during the first hearing on May 15. Cointelegraph asked Tikhonov about the chances of lifting the ban and the general outlook for cryptocurrency in Russia.
Cointelegraph: How did the court change its view on the matter? Are you happy with the recent hearings? What are your chances of winning?
Ivan Tikhonov: I believe we have a good chance of victory. Their decision is clearly not backed by any law and we presented evidence of this in our appeal petition. We are happy with how the hearings have been going since our request to restore the timeframe was approved and the prosecutor’s demand to stop our appeal was rejected. Of course, it would have been great to win on April 24. Hopefully, we’ll be able to reach a verdict in no more than 1-2 hearings.
“[I]f this law passes, the goals, which served as the basis for drafting this legislation, will not be met.”
Cointelegraph: Russia’s Ministry of Finance (MinFin) and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT) have different views on cryptocurrency. How significant is this and is there a chance we’ll see a more sensible approach?
IT: Essentially, the bill is being actively pushed by MinFin, while the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade are not defenders of cryptocurrency. They are simply taking a more balanced approach. As I see it, they gave their first negative reaction to the draft not in the defense of cryptocurrency, but because the bill is horrible. Even small businesses will suffer from this law, as they would have to close down their loyalty systems. When it was decided that the loyalty systems were not going to be affected, MEDT gave the green light and the bill moved forward.
Meanwhile, not all of the problems associated with the draft were resolved. It clearly has vague definitions, which can be widely implemented. It also does not explain how the mechanisms for searching and classifying various entities as ‘money surrogates’ work and the final report also gives incorrect information on how this activity falls under the functions of Russia’s Central Bank, etc.
I also haven’t mentioned the most important thing - that if this law passes, the goals, which served as the basis for drafting this legislation, will not be met.
Therefore, I hope that this bill will have to face a lot more barriers moving forward.
“[The banks] will start to experiment with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. But not in Russia.”
CT: What are the recent trends in Russia as far as cryptocurrency adoption in the last few months?
IT: I was pleasantly surprised when during the conference named “Bank cards: Practice and Transformation 2015” several speakers mentioned Bitcoin. I can say that the community’s belief that bankers and payment system operators do not understand cryptocurrency is no longer accurate. A large part of them are not only familiar with cryptocurrency, but already have a deep understanding of how these technologies work.
The only thing is that they are all pressured by the negative stance of the main regulator. But I think that they are keeping their finer on the pulse and it is likely that they will start to experiment with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. But not in Russia.
CT: Do the authorities view cryptocurrency as something that can disrupt the status quo? Can some sort of compromise or agreement be reached between the authorities and the cryptocurrency community?
IT: Some representatives in the Duma have openly stated that a law to ban virtual currencies is needed and that they will support it. Even though I consider these to be populist statements. It’s hard for me to otherwise take statements like “cryptocurrency threatens financial Russia’s stability and the financial sovereignty” or “All cryptocurrencies are created by the US secret service to finance terrorism and ‘color revolutions’” seriously.
This is why these bans will only hurt legal businesses that would like to work with cryptocurrency, but will not have any impact on the shadow businesses. Moreover, I think that this is simply an attempt to shy away from responsibility since a ban eliminates any possibility to control the situation and properly develop the industry.
“[The government and the crypto-community] needs to work together to benefit from this technology while mitigating its potential risks.”
A compromise must be found, I believe. And here, both sides will have to make concessions. The maniacal government, which wants to know and control everything and the cryptocurrency community that has the means to circumvent any such attempts. Understandably, cryptocurrencies don’t just provide us with new opportunities, but also new risks, which can certainly be real. Thus, if the government wants to secure some form of control and the crypto-community wants to operate within the law, then we need to work together to benefit from this technology while mitigating its potential risks.
I understand that there will be opposition to both sides. But fighting this battle will squander a lot of resources unlike mutual cooperation. I I can say to the opposition that in the near term, the government will still be able to pull its traditional levers, while the crypto-community will resort to its anonymity and free cryptocurrencies. However, by opting for a collaborative effort, we can create something better and more convenient to use than existing systems, which I think would be magnificent.