Russia is prepared to stomp out Bitcoin, again. Comments from the Russian Ministry of Finance confirm the draft of a new bill which would severely restrict use of cryptocurrency in the country — if enforced.
Last month, CoinTelegraph reported on the rumors of the country's renewed decision to ban transactions conducted with “money substitutes” – including cryptocurrencies. Officials worry that the new currency carve out a shadow economy. Now, Russia Today reports that the drafted bill could pass as early as the current parliamentary session.
According to Russia Today, Deputy Finance Minister Alexsey Moiseev said: “People can play with their chips, and they can call them money, but they can’t use these surrogate currencies as tender.”
- Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev
Because of concerns that the cryptocurrency facilitates crime, finance officials threaten to use legal action against miners and anyone who converts the currency into “real money.” Bitcoin provides a certain level of privacy, so government officials think it could facilitate illegal activity—like online drug purchases and money laundering. And given the cryptocurrency's volatility, banning it would only protect consumers, officials argue.
The draft has not available to the public. But according to Russia Today, Moiseev commented on the status of the new draft:
“We will discuss this law in the current session of parliament, and possibly even pass it then, or at the very latest by spring next year. We are currently dealing with comments from the law enforcement agencies, about the specifics of legal measures, and we will take their remarks into account. But the overall concept of the law is set in stone.”
Former Bans and Other Russian Regulation News
Russia is known for its rollercoaster-like opinion on cryptocurrency. Just a brief dive into a “Russia” search query on CoinTelegraph shows the conflicting reports from Russian officials. Partly because different officials, in different agencies, are drawing very different conclusions. It's difficult to gauge which opinion will win out and ultimately rule Russian policy.
At a major economic conference in St. Petersburg, top Russian officials weren't very quick to take a strictly unfavorable position, indicating that the reality is a bit more nuanced than the Russian Central Bank report released in January, which prohibits the exchange of “virtual currency.” The central bank has since reversed the ban. Leading officials proposed softer regulations and admitted that cryptocurrency could have a future.
Now, another arm of the Kremlin is looking into a ban. Moiseev's comments, coming from the Ministry of Finance, has confirmed reports of legislation in play that would ban cryptocurrency. If the central bank is any indication, there still may be room for a reversal. But so far, the Russian government has taken a skeptical view of Bitcoin. Even if there are some pockets of more favorable opinion, the future is quite unclear.
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