[Update: The number of blocked sites now totals seven. One of these sites is reported to be bitcoinconf.ru]
The Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications (Roskomnadzor in Russian) has blacklisted five Bitcoin-related websites.
Roskomnadzor has effectively blocked access to Bitcoin.org – an online community of cryptocurrency users and specialists supported by the Bitcoin Foundation - entering it into a registry of prohibited websites despite the site not having any user-submitted content.
Upon accessing Bitcoin.org, users have been receiving the following:
-- Access Denied. Access to the requested resource was blocked in accordance with the current law of the Russian Federation. Please contact us if the specified resource was blocked erroneously.
The other sites affected by the move include:
- Bitcoin.it (wiki-encyclopedia dedicated to Bitcoin)
- Btcsec.com (online Russian BTC community)
- Coinspot.io (online Russian BTC community)
- Indacoin.com (Bitcoin exchange)
The reason for why these specific websites (and not others) were targeted has not yet been revealed. The popular Bitcoin.org website contains information on the benefits of Bitcoin (and cryptocurrencies as a whole) and methods for using the cryptocurrency by both individuals and companies, including links to the other related online communities.
Thus, the move was not entirely unexpected as CoinTelegraph reported back in August that the Russian government was planning to clamp down and “restrict access to information sources, which produce Bitcoin and carry operations with their use, with the establishment of appropriate administrative sanctions.”
However, Roskomnadzor press secretary Vadim Ampelonskyi did confirm to Tjournal that the Bitcoin websites were blocked in accordance with the ruling of the Neviyanskyi Municipal Court of Sverdlovsk Oblast, but did not share any further details.
CCFR (Cryptocurrency Foundation Russia) Chairman, Igor Chepkasov, commented on the news to CoinTelegraph via email:
“Given the remoteness of the [the Ural, Sverdlovsk region] region and the ‘features’ of the court decision enforcement (issued on September 30 and entered into the registry of blocked sites only on January 13), we can safely say that this is a dress rehearsal for the Prohibition of Bitcoin in Russia.
“Furthermore, the owners of these sites never received any advanced notice or official letters from government and regulatory agencies (including a list of claims and recommendations). Also, none of these websites were ever summoned to court. We see that the Russian Bitcoin community is facing judicial arbitrariness and telephone justice at the state level.
“Now that Bitcoin enthusiasts and entrepreneurs are faced with real restrictions, we can see how the Russian Bitcoin community is organized and whether it is ready to fight for their rights.
“On behalf CCFR I urge all enthusiasts to unite and fight for their rights. I appeal to the victims and notify you that we are ready to provide them with all possible support - consulting, legal and other.”
Back in December, CoinTelegraph reported that Russia was expected to fine cryptocurrency users up to 1 million rubles. Because of concerns that the cryptocurrency facilitates crime, Russian officials have threatened to use legal action against miners and anyone who converts the currency into “real money.”
Since Bitcoin provides a certain level of privacy, government officials believe 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.
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