The state of bitcoin’s legality in Russia has been shaky over the past couple of years. Reports of bitcoin bans, jail sentences for holding cryptocurrencies, and other regulatory policy headlines have spread like wildfire. Throughout many of these stories Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister, Alexey Moiseev, has often shared very bi-polar messages concerning the cryptocurrency.
Russia’s Finance Minister Says Bitcoin is Not a Threat
According to a recent report from Russia’s regional news publication TASS, Moiseev the Finance Minister and his colleagues don’t view bitcoin as a threat. This is in contrast to Moiseev’s rumored proposals in the past concerning bitcoin regulation. Last summer the Finance Minister detailed cryptocurrency mining would be deemed illegal but the digital asset could be traded similar to foreign currency exchange (forex) markets. This past week Moiseev told reporters on January 12:
So far we decided to watch it carefully and how it’s developing. We decided that the Central Bank and the Federal Financial Monitoring Service should monitor cryptocurrency for Russia’s economic security. So far these agencies believe that there is nothing critical in it. That means they understand that (threats) may appear in the future, but now they do not exist.
Russia’s Relationship with Bitcoin
Russia has had a strange relationship with bitcoin for quite some time. Back in 2014 many people thought bitcoin was illegal in the country according to reports from media outlets like CNBC and the European Parliament. Over the course of the past few years, bitcoin-related websites have been blocked such as the exchange BTC-e and Localbitcoins.
Following these events, the Deputy Finance Minister announced new law was coming in 2017 that would treat virtual currencies like forex. Then this past fall the Russian Federal Tax Service revealed letter No. ОА-18-17/1027, which described the agency’s position over cryptocurrencies. One statement in the service letter noted:
The Russian laws do not contain any prohibitions as to operations with cryptocurrencies conducted by Russian citizens and organizations.
Have Russian Authorities Changed Their Opinions Towards Cryptocurrencies?
It will be interesting to see what transpires from Moiseev’s recent statements, and the effect of the Federal Tax Service’s recent statements. Many believe the service letter was a turning point for bitcoin usage within Russia. Moiseev stating virtual currencies are not a threat is certainly a good sign. Especially when the Finance Minister was supposedly supporting prison sentences just last year, according to the Russian news outlet Interfax.
Russia’s Localbitcoins volumes reached an all time high this past December.
What do you think about Russia’s relationship with bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.