Following the presentation of a drafted bill to place regulations on the usage of cryptocurrency in Russia on December 28, a list of approved cryptocurrency trading platforms is being developed by the Russian Ministry of Finance.
Alexei Moiseev, Russian Deputy Finance Minister, told reporters that the Finance Ministry “supports the legalization of trade in cryptocurrencies on official exchanges.” According to Moiseev, the Finance Ministry “[does] not want to limit and regulate, but we will set some limits.”
Moiseev concluded that the bill is intended to make the crypto landscape in Russia more stable. “This is about the fact that buying and selling [of cryptocurrencies] will be somehow standardized. The general idea is that it will be necessary to buy and sell on official exchanges, as it will be declared, it will be legalized.”
The proposed legislation is a refreshing turn in Russia’s attitude toward cryptocurrency regulation, which has been rather foreboding in the past. In late August of 2017, Alexei Moiseev said that it was “hard to argue cryptocurrency is not a pyramid scheme” and that the Russian government planned to only allow “qualified investors” to trade crypto.
Then, in October, Russia announced a ban on access to online cryptocurrency exchanges. At the time, Russian Central Bank First Deputy Governor Sergei Shvetsov said: “We cannot give direct and easy access to such dubious instruments for retail (investors).”
Russia and Crypto: A Storied Past
The bill responsible for the proposed legalization was originally conceptualized in April of 2017, when the Russian government decided that an official bill containing laws regarding the regulation of cryptocurrency was necessary.
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The draft of that first bill was set to be reviewed in October. According to Moscow State of International Relations Professor Elina Leonidovna Sidorenko, who was in the working group responsible for drafting the bill, the bill was pushed back for a number of reasons–most of them having to do with conflicting ideas about what purposes the laws should serve.
Lawmaker Anatoly Aksakov, Chair of the State Duma’s financial market committee, said in September that he believed that a crypto bill could be signed into law by the end of 2017. However, there was another delay.
Following the Kremlin’s publishing of five official orders to regulate certain aspects of cryptocurrency in October, lawmakers finally met to discuss the draft of the bill on December 28, 2017. This latest incarnation is the one responsible for the proposed exchange regulations.
According to Russian media outlets RIA and TASS, Aksakov said that the bill drafted during the meeting is likely to be signed into law by March of this year.
Aksakov explained that in this case, the Russian government would rather act slowly than rashly: “The problem is that we already have a lot of people who acquire [cryptocurrencies] and they are deceived, we need to give people the opportunity to work legally with it, to protect them as much as possible.”
Indeed, RT reported that Vladimir Putin himself said on January 11 that “if [the Russian government regulates], but not efficiently enough, then the government will be responsible for the difficult situations that people can get into.”