As the digital ruble project proceeds through Russian parliamentary hearings, lawmakers have proposed significant amendments to the bill, aiming to change the original document regarding debt operations, services for non-residents and the role of the central bank. 

On May 22, the state-owned news agency Interfax reported on the package of suggestions formulated by the Committee on the Financial Market of the State Duma — the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia — in preparation for the second reading of the digital ruble bill.

The lawmakers are proposing to forbid the Bank of Russia — Russia’s central bank — from participating in companies’ financing, leaving it the sole role of operating the digital ruble platform. The amendments would also oblige the central bank to defend the private data of those customers who are employees of the Federal Security Service.

The new draft also proposes easier access to the central bank digital currency (CBDC) platform for non-residents through foreign banks, which would get approval to join the platform. It also specifies that non-residents should have no limitations in using the platform.

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The bill’s current version allows the enforcement agencies to withdraw, without limitations, the debtors’ funds if they hold a sufficient amount of digital rubles. However, the legal department of the State Duma has already protested against this notion, as the national law forbids withdrawing the debtors’ funds beyond the minimum wage level, amounting to roughly $195 per month.

Bill number 270838-8 passed through the first reading in March. Initially, it was intended to be made law by April to launch a CBDC pilot. However, the deadline has been delayed due to the ongoing conversation around the bill. According to Interfax, the bill should head for subsequent readings by the end of July.

Meanwhile, the neighboring nation of Belarus has prepared a pilot program for its own CBDC. The country will make a decision on the issuance of a digital Belarussian ruble by the end of the year, according to the chairman of the national bank.

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