Despite the recent court ruling that overturned a previous decision to block access to at least five Bitcoin websites, Russia’s supervision agency has blacklisted one of the country’s most popular Bitcoin-related websites.
On May 27, Russia’s Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications (Roskomnadzor) effectively blocked access to one of Russia’s most popular Bitcoin news websites, BitNovosti.com. When attempting to access the domain within the country, users are instead met with the following message from the authorities:
“This site has been blocked by order of the government of Russia. You can read more about Russia’s internet censorship law here. A list of sites currently censored by the Russian government can be found here and here.”
BitNovosti posted the following announcement on their Vkontakte page (Russia’s version of Facebook) in response:
“Roskomnadzor has blocked access to our site in Russia. Of course, we can go to court and spend a lot of time trying to prove that this was done illegally and then wait until government officials remove the site from their blacklist. But we will not do this, especially since the proposed law to ban information on cryptocurrency is expected to pass in the Duma soon. Thus, the blocking of ALL Bitcoin-resources is only a matter of time.”
“Don’t allow the gatekeepers to sensor your flow of information! The latest on cryptocurrency is available at BitNovosti.”
When Russia’s internet censorship law was passed in 2012, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at a meeting with ruling United Russia party leadership, voiced his support. "The Internet must be free,” he stated. “Secondly, it should be regulated by a set of rules, which mankind has yet to work out, and it's a very difficult process because we cannot regulate everything, nor can we leave [the Internet] outside the legal realm."
However, in mid-May, a court in Yekaterinburg, Russia accepted the appeal from the websites that were blacklisted in January and dismissed the demands of the prosecutor’s office to leave the ban in place, a move that was interpreted by many as a green light for Bitcoin in Russia.
“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,” the founder of Btcsec.com, Ivan Tikhonov, told Cointelegraph.
This appears to be a pipe dream, however, as yet another Bitcoin website has been shuttered, and other websites such as Btcsec.com and Bitcoin.it remain blocked despite the local court’s ruling.
Russian authorities seem determined to go ahead with their plans to pass a nationwide law against “money surrogates” such as bitcoin in August of this year. We will have to wait until then to find out the details of the law and to see whether online cryptocurrency resources in Russia will see the light of day.