A court in Ekaterinburg, Russia has effectively lifted the ban to Bitcoin-related websites blocked in January by authorities. The Sverdlovsk Oblast court has accepted the appeal of the blocked sites and dismissed the demands of the prosecutor’s office to leave the ban in place.
The Bitcoin community in Russia feels that it efforts to win the struggle have paid off. The founder of BTCsec.com, Ivan Tikhonov, called the court decision “a victory for the Bitcoin community, our mutual victory.”
Crypto Info Now Legal
“As a participant in the process, I am very happy with the court’s decision,” Tikhonov told Cointelegraph. He added:
“We achieved two very important things: the unblocking of informational sites and the reversal of the decision that information on cryptocurrencies is banned in Russia. I am pleased that the court approached this matter responsibly reviewing all arguments and ultimately ruling in our favor.”
The court has been hearing an appeal by Russia’s crypto community representatives asking the appeals court to acknowledge the illegality of the decision made by the Neviyansky municipal court in September 2014 to block websites that contained information on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
In January, the Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications (“Roskomnadzor” in Russian) blocked access to at least five Bitcoin-related websites in accordance with the ruling of the Neviyansky Municipal Court of Sverdlovsk Oblast. Meanwhile, the affected Bitcoin websites, such as BTCsec.com and bitcoinconf.ru, which contained information whose dissemination is considered illegal in the country, filed an appeal vowing to fight the ruling.
During the first hearing on April 24, 2015, prosecutors demanded to stop the appeal based on the fact that they did not actually seek the blocking of the resources, their aim only being to acknowledge that the bitcoin-related information should not be made available to the public. As a result, the sites involved couldn’t be considered a party in the process according to the prosecutor’s office.
Ivan Tikhonov then declared that the blocking of the site is direct evidence of acknowledgement that the information presented on the website cannot be distributed and thus, BTCsec.com can be considered a party of interest who can appeal the court’s decision.
The first victory came during the first hearing, when the court denied the prosecutor’s complaint to stop the appeal and decided to review the case based on the first-instance court’s rules.
At the second hearing, the prosecutors filed a request to withdraw the complaint against the resources fighting the decision. Nevertheless, the prosecutors maintained that access to the websites in question should remain blocked. Meanwhile, representatives from BTCsec.com and bitcoinconf.ru stated their appeals case and pressed the court to reverse the decision in full.
After reviewing the case, the court decided to reverse the decision of the Neviansky municipal court as reported by bits.media. Therefore, in a second victory, the block of cryptocurrency related websites since January 2015 has been lifted and declared unlawful. Currently, only an audio recording of the hearing is available, with the full transcript expected to be ready in five days.
Essentially, this also annuls the ruling that the dissemination of information on cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin in particular, within Russia is illegal.
The websites that are expected to be unblocked soon are:
It should also be noted that these hearings resulted in not only the unblocking of Russian websites, but also the international developers website bitcoin.org and the Bitcoin-wikipedia resource bitcoin.it, which will soon become accessible to users in Russia.
Note: According to our Russian sources, all of the above listed websites were still inaccessible at the time of writing.