Russia’s Ministry of Finance has released a draft bill that would prohibit all dealings in Bitcoin. The ban includes:
– The “creation” (mining) and distribution of digital currencies. Individuals face a fine of 30,000-50,000 RUB ($750-$1250). For officials, 60,000–100,000 RUB ($1500–$2500). For companies, 500,000–1 million RUB ($12,500–$25,000).
– Creating or distributing software capable of the above. Fine schedule same as above.
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– The dissemination of information facilitating the above prohibited activities. Here, individuals face a fine of 5,000–50,000 RUB ($125–$1250). For officials, 20,000–100,000 RUB ($500–$2,500). For companies, 500,000–1 million RUB ($12,500–$25,000)- same as above.
The draft confirms earlier reports of an upcoming ban. It would still have to be passed through parliament to take effect. Previously, Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev indicated that while comments from law enforcement agencies will be taken into account, the “law is set in stone.”
If enacted, Russia would become the world’s largest economy to ban cryptocurrency. The question remains if they’ll have effective means of enforcement. While authorities can monitor and perhaps control what goes on the web, it is far more difficult to track bitcoins sent directly from one individual to another using a desktop or mobile device.
The ban comes at the same time as the country’s ruble continues to struggle against the dollar, feeling the effects of Western sanctions over the conflict in neighboring Ukraine.