The Russian Ministry of Finance has drafted a bill that defines exchange operations between the national currency and bitcoin as a crime. The bill will soon be introduced to the Russian Parliament.
According to the information from the press office of the Russian Ministry of Finance, a bill proposing measures to toughen criminal responsibility for bitcoin use is already prepared and is being discussed now with concerned state institutions. Afterwards, it will be brought before the State Duma (the lower house of Russian Parliament).
The spokesman for the Ministry of Finance emphasised that the bill aims at criminalising only the exchange from rubles to bitcoins and vice versa. The proposed punishment is up to 5 years of imprisonment.
However, the technology behind bitcoin, distributed ledger or blockchain, is not likely to be criminalised by Russian authorities. The Ministry of Finance is favourably regarding blockchain as a means to minimise costs and bring significant benefits to corporate management. The press office of the Ministry of Finance emphasises:
“We can see that the blockchain technology will be in great demand and we are not planning to ban it.”
The Bank of Russia and the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications have also recently discussed the possible development and high potential of blockchain application in Russia.
On 25 February, the State Duma held a roundtable discussion “Regulating the issuance and circulation of cryptocurrency.” Russian Central Bank and representatives of the Security and Anti-Corruption Committee voted against legalisation of cryptocurrencies in Russia. According to some estimates, Russia is the world's fifth country by the number of bitcoin users (200,000) with the US, China and Germany having top numbers.