RT, an English-language news outlet in Russia, reports that a top official with the Russian government has announced that a law will be passed banning Bitcoin’s exchange into real money by next spring because of Bitcoin’s use by criminals and terrorists.
Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev said to journalists in Moscow:
“People can play with their chips, and they can call them money, but they can’t use these surrogate currencies as tender. We will discuss this law in the current session of parliament, and possibly even pass it then, or at the very latest by spring next year. We are currently dealing with comments from the law enforcement agencies, about the specifics of legal measures, and we will take their remarks into account. But the overall concept of the law is set in stone.”
While the draft of the proposed legislation has not been published, officials state they will open criminal proceedings against people who mint digital currency as well as those who use it for transactions. Russia’s financial ministry has also asked regulators to ban access to exchanges and online shops that accept Bitcoin, reports RT.
Lawmakers say Bitcoin’s cross-border nature, transaction anonymity, and lack of supervisory body makes it the perfect means for illegal transactions such as money laundering, purchasing illicit goods, rendering illegal services, or funding terrorism. Since cryptocurrency is not backed by any assets, it is liable to fluctuate considerably, so the ban would serve as a protective measure that would prevent individuals from losing money due to speculation, reports RT.
The news agency says the proposed legislation seems to be largely pre-emptive, as Bitcoin and its iterations are rare in Russia, as least insofar as being a channel for legal transactions. Still, Russia’s central bank had already suggested that Russia be “wary” of using digital currencies as far back as January.
Moiseev said that Russia “was following Europe’s lead” on digital currencies, but RT notes that while many financial bodies in Europe have criticized or dismissed Bitcoin, the virtual currency has not been banned entirely anywhere in Europe.