Russia Decides Bitcoin Isn’t for “Ordinary People”

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Nearly half a month after Elena Sidorenko from the team that is preparing the first Bitcoin legislation in Russia revealed that the law is being postponed for October, Russia’s Deputy Minister Alexei Moiseev announces that although legislation will take place, cryptocurrencies will be restricted to only a select group of people. It seems that, after all, Bitcoin gamblers in Russia will not be granted the liberalization they expected but only face more scrutiny as Bitcoin will directly fall under the monitoring of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service.

Only Investors Allowed

In a surprising turn of events, the Deputy Finance Minister of Russia, Alexey Moiseev, took to the state-owned media Russia 24 to inform the nation that the use of Bitcoin and any cryptocurrencies is to be restricted only to “qualified investors,” rather than the general public. The statement most probably shocked the Bitcoin community as previous reports on the subject lead the public to believe that Russia is finally going to liberalize Bitcoins after years of criticism and skepticism.

During his interview, Moiseev said that the government should treat Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as sophisticated assets and thus prohibit the unqualified public from using them, insinuating that it was due to the customer’s protection from the cryptocurrency. He justifies his proposal by expressing his stance that cryptocurrencies are most probably to be pyramid schemes and that regular people are not well equipped to deal with them, considering (according to him) that cryptocurrencies were “dangerous” to invest in and could lead to significant money losses.

Moiseev also signaled the government’s plan to make the Moscow Stock Exchange (MSE) the only medium through which any of the so-called qualified investors could buy Bitcoins and other digital currencies. The MSE is under the direct control of the Rosfinmonitoring – a federal service created by a Presidential decree from Putin in 2011 that gathers and analyzes financial information to combat financial crimes, terrorist funding, and domestic/international money laundering.

Yet Another Change of Heart

Only last year the Russian government declared war on Bitcoin use, or the “surrogate currency” as it was called, announcing harsh fines to anyone caught using Bitcoin in the country, be it an individual user or a business. At the time, the Russian Finance Ministry said they were preparing for a new legislation that would see regular citizens face up to 4 years of jail time for Bitcoin use while miners would get 6 years.

The latest update from Moiseev, although it might not be the final say, seems to be leading to an even bigger complication for Russian gamblers who have to rely on Bitcoin casinos to enjoy online gambling safely.  Russia’s telecom regulatory agency, the Roskomnadzor, had already applied blocks to hundreds of international gambling sites while this summer also brought a new law that sets out to even prohibit the use of VPNs (virtual private networks) which gamblers have thus far used to bypass restrictions.

Should Moiseev’s words turn out to be definite, the use of Bitcoin exchanges could also be facing similar restrictions as gambling sites in Russia, thus complicating things even further for gamblers in the country.  But what’s surprising to see is that Moiseev’s announcement comes not long after Dmitry Marinichev, an advisor to President Putin, sought to raise $100 million in an ICO campaign to build Russian Mining Coin – a huge mining camp in Russia that is to be set in an old Soviet factory.

August 30, 2017: • No Comments

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