The website of the LocalBitcoins cryptocurrency exchange has been added to the registry of online resources “containing information banned in Russian Federation” by the country’s mass media watchdog Roskomnadzor.

According to Rusblacklist (a RosKomSvoboda project), the order №2-10224/16 including the exchange into the blacklist was passed by the Primorsky district court of Saint-Petersburg as early as 5 July 2016. A number of providers have already blocked access to the website.

The decision took place before Russian authorities softened their rhetoric towards the cryptocurrencies. On 18 July, the Ministry of Finance announced its intention to equal bitcoin and other digital money to foreign currencies in the way that its emission would be banned within the country, however, purchase and moving it abroad would be permitted. In August, the authorities openly abandoned their plans to introduce criminal liability for cryptocurrency operations. Later on, deputy finance minister Alexey Moiseyev acknowledged that a “blunt prohibition” of bitcoin would be wrong.

The news came at the peak of a steady upward trend in bitcoin trade registered in Russia. On 24 August, the weekly trade volume exceeded 215.5 million rubles ($ 3.3 million), surpassing the previous all-time high recorded on 2 August. Since the beginning of the year, the trade volume increased almost three-fold.

LocalBitcoins is a Finnish cryptocurrency exchange launched in 2012. As of August 2016, it had about 1.35 million users from 249 countries with the weekly trading volume exceeding $14 million.

Daria Levina