Vladimir Putin has issued a date for Russian regulators to reach consensus and implement laws surrounding cryptocurrency, including rules on exchanges, mining, trading, and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Thus far, Russia’s stance on cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin has been murky at best, if not outright contradictory, but a resolution stands little more than two months away thanks to a smart goal issued by Putin himself which requires agreement on outstanding regulatory issues by July 1, 2018. Alongside this official announcement, other crypto-related legal issues are already gaining clarity.
Criticisms from local lawmakers in Q118 urged the Russian federal government to expedite decisions regarding the legal framework for cryptocurrency in the country, fearing that the country would fall behind on a global scale, leaving them in a position where playing catch-up would be the final remaining option. Russia itself has more than 50 bills in the works regarding the digital economy in the country, with cryptocurrency-related bills included among areas such as electronic documentation, digital ledgers and smart contracts as a whole, as well as the Internet of Things.
Evolving stances on cryptocurrency and blockchain have also lent to overturning prior regulations. In May of 2017, a Russian district court imposed a ban on more than 40 websites due to a prohibition on on “spreading information about”, buying, and selling cryptocurrencies. However, this ban has been lifted in a decision from the City Court of Saint Petersburg. This is but one step on the cryptocurrency road for Russia.
Presently, among the most pressing contradictions among regulatory bodies in Russia is that surrounding cryptocurrency exchanges in the country between the Central Bank of Russia and the Ministry of Finance.
Just as many countries implementing regulations surrounding cryptocurrency, one of Russia’s cited concerns is that surrounding uneducated risk-taking among citizen investors. The chair of the State Duma Committee for the Financial market, Anatoly Aksakov, is reported as saying,
The Central Bank is against the legalization of this type of digital currency, since in this case citizens can start actively investing in crypto-tools, not taking into account possible risks.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Finance has expressed a different opinion, going so far as to offer to setup an exchange specifically for crypto miners.
The two bodies must reach a decision surrounding their highly differing stances by the beginning of July when regulations are meant to go into effect.
Russia also has a bill in progress which would classify cryptocurrency as assets rather than money, disallowing citizens and visitors from paying for goods and services in crypto within the country in order to protect the Russian ruble. In a report from NewsBTC, Elvira Nabiullina, President of the Central Bank of Russia, has referred to bitcoin as “quasi-money.”
It is not unlikely that we may see a few rounds of amendments to some of the pre-existing bills in order to refine Russia’s stance on cryptocurrency, but we should see progress by July 1.