RT News reports that Russia plans on again banning Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Referring to Bitcoin, Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev told journalists, “People can play with their chips, and they can call them money, but they can’t use these surrogate currencies as tender.”
Although draft legislation has not yet been published, officials say that criminal proceedings will be opened against anyone mining or transacting cryptocurrencies. The ban aims to prevent their use for criminal activity like money laundering or terrorist financing. It also seeks to protect investors from wild price swings.
Further comments by Moiseev indicate that the government is keen on the ban:
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“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.”
One ought to keep an open mind when hearing such reports, particularly during these unsettled times as Russia faces mounting sanctions from Western powers.
Russia has changed its stance more than once this year on the legality of digital currencies. First, officials made remarks strongly implying bitcoin use as illegal but never said such outright. Weeks later, Bitcoin was formally declared as illegal. But in the summer, officials said that “such instruments should not be rejected” while they take a deeper look into the matter.
Even during the ban, conflicting reports arose as to criminal investigation against BTC-e and Metabank. A government website initially indicated criminal proceedings but later retracted the claim, saying the site was hacked.
Moiseev also reportedly said that with the ban, the country “was following Europe’s lead”. While Europe has issued warnings about Bitcoin- warnings that have been similarly issued by many governments around the world- no member state has imposed such restrictions.