Russian State Duma Almost Unanimously Approves First Reading of Crypto Industry Bill

Russia’s parliament the State Duma approved the first reading of new laws regulating the crypto industry Tuesday, May 22. The laws define cryptocurrencies and tokens as property, and lay out specifications for interacting with crypto and blockchain-related technologies.  

The bill, “On Digital Financial Assets,” which has been under consideration since last year with a final deadline due July 1, deals with cryptocurrencies, as well as blockchain-related technologies such as smart contracts, mining, and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

“These specifications determine that both cryptocurrency and tokens constitute property, identifying key differences between cryptocurrency and tokens on the basis that there is a single issuer (for tokens) or a variety of issuers/ miners (for cryptocurrency), as well as emission goals,” the official news release about the bill reads, continuing:

“In this document it is directly determined that digital financial assets do not constitute a legal method of payment within the territory of the Russian Federation.”

410 deputies approved the bill at a hearing Tuesday, with only one voting against it.

The legislation had previously received mixed feedback from government parties following its initial unveiling in April, with the Kremlin demanding more clarity on tax obligations and the ability of foreign investors to access Russian-issued ICOs.

In both its previous and current form, the plans have drawn criticism from industry figures. In March of this year, Igor Sudets, a member of the Duma’s expert panel on digital economy and blockchain, even went as far as to say that “no one will want” to launch an ICO in Russia once they become law.

As Cointelegraph reported last week, Sudets nonetheless admitted that “it is important that cryptocurrency and tokens are included in the legal field of the Russian Federation.”