The major bitcoin exchange based in Slovenia explains its decision to close access for Russian customers referring to a prohibition allegedly issued by Russian authorities. Angry Russian customers insist there is no such prohibition.

Last week Russian customers of Bitstamp discovered they were, as the site put it, “blocked by the security rules.” Finally, over the week-end they received a message from Bitstamp, reposted by the user Kn_os on BitcoinTalk and user cryptodisco on Reddit. The message runs as follows:

“Bitstamp has been informed that the Russian government is prohibiting access to Bitstamp’s website for all of our Russian customers. We deeply regret this inconvenience, and will attempt to resolve this situation as soon as possible. All Bitstamp accounts remain safe and secure. We have not been officially notified of the reason for this action, which we view as unjustified. We are not aware of any misuse of our services involving any Russian customer. Bitstamp poses no threat to the security of Russia or its economy.”

As a result, says the letter, guided by the wish to “protect our valued customers in Russia… Bitstamp has decided to temporarily block access to its website from Russian IP addresses until we can assess the situation with more clarity.”

The only evidence given by Bitstamp was a link to a recent CoinDesk article about a bitcoin ban bill reaching Russian legislature. However, the phrasing of the letter could suggest that the information on prohibition of access to Bitstamp comes from an insider source.

The users who published the email vented their frustration in comments. Kn_os stated that the “access to site in Russia can be blocked only by court” and that Bitstamp is not mentioned in the Roskomnadzor’s list of restricted sites. He furthermore exhorted Bitstamp to “stop reading yellow press” because “there are no laws in Russia which forbid customers [from] using crypto.” User cryptodisco called the decision of the bitcoin exchange “weird and unprofessional”. Other Russians commented that if their government had started to restrict access to bitcoin exchanges, it would surely start with BTC-E because, unlike Bitstamp, it offers trades for the bitcoin/ruble pair.

Reddit user gonzobon suggested that the real reason for blocking Russian IP addresses was that “Russia has so much fraud coming out of it,” and losses due to connection with Russia may have outweighed the profits.


Alexey Tereshchenko