The game of media censorship of Bitcoin in Russia has apparently resumed. Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, is reportedly demanding that a local website edit or remove an article about Bitcoin within three days, or otherwise face getting banned.
The offending article was published more than two years ago on Zuckerberg Pozvonit (“Zuckerberg Will Call”), a site discussing topics on internet innovation. The article, titled “What is Bitcoin and Who Needs Them?”, explains how Bitcoin works and briefly mentions that it can be used to move money around anonymously.
According to Global Voices Advocacy, a website that lobbies against government censorship of websites, an Astrakhan court decided in February that the article contains propaganda to launder money and the proceeds of crime, and “has a negative impact on the legal consciousness of citizens.”
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Vyacheslav Tsyplukhin, who administers the Zuckerberg Pozvonit website, remains defiant. In a Facebook post, he claimed that his site deliberately avoids political issues, and only discusses political developments such as laws passed that directly affect the industries discussed. As such, he argues, he has done nothing wrong. He continues:
“We haven’t discussed this issue collectively yet, but I maintain the position that we don’t have to delete anything. Let them close the website, and then let them explain to our 1.8 million readers, and to the industry, what is going on.”
Roskomnadzor had initially pushed back against the Astrakhan court ruling, concurring with Tsyplukhin that the article content was solely informational, but the court upheld its decision.
The latest comes amid continued mixed signals from authorities on the legality of Bitcoin in the country. Various officials have expressed differing views through the past year and a half. The latest comments from President Vladimir Putin may have now suggested that Bitcoin is not illegal, although he did apparently indicate that it is worthless as a currency.