Russia has made news all year long for its international stances on many major topics. Its military issues with the Ukraine, NATO, Turkey, the goal to become a GMO-free food producer, and their attacks on ISIS in Syria have been major stories, worldwide. Russia has also had a controversial stance on Bitcoin, dating back to last year, which I’ve chronicled previously, taking a hardline stance against its use for Russian citizens. Now, Russia may be ready to turn the page, and allow some Bitcoin use in 2016.
Read the full story below.
According to Russian news blogging site Forklog, a new economic “draft code” has been submitted that would exclude some restrictions on digital currencies. The “malevolent issuance of money surrogates…..objects of property rights, including those electronic, intended for usage as exchange and/or payment means issued in the Russian Federation, not considered as official payment means in the legislation of the Russian Federation”.
In other words, Bitcoin issued by another country would avoid internal regulation, but the only problem is how would you figure out the physical-mined origin of a Bitcoin? Bitcoin will also become a “money surrogate” if it originates from the CIS countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine), or any country in the European Union, including Great Britain.
Russians have recently been threatened with fines, community service sentences, and other sanctions if caught using it within the nation-state. Dating back to last year, the behind-the-scenes rumor was that Bitcoin would be banned in Russia, outright. Not unrelated to this action was the steep fall of the Russian Rubles value at the time. During 2014, like Bitcoin, the Ruble lost over half it’s economic value, mainly due to economic sanctions from the West and the drop in the price of oil, Russia’s main international export. Now that the Ruble has rebounded, like Bitcoin, the sanctions may be ready to be softened.
Also, since 2014, the European Union and the United Kingdom have looked favorably upon Bitcoin, judging it as a legal electronic money. The UK, in particular, has seen the Bank of England craft an extensive study on Bitcoin and its economic value to the mainstream, generally viewing it favorably for its potential innovation to the public, if not the banking industry. Their acceptance may also be a factor as Russian regulators may take this new information and apply it to their governance, moving forward.
The updated draft code, or future law code, specifies that one-time use of Bitcoin will bring no punishment if held as a souvenir, or with no intent for future use.
There seems to be an intent in the regulation to prevent the domestic use of the digital currency instead of using the Ruble. It also seems that websites and informants will not be attacked by the government, which has also made news over the past year in different Russian provinces. “Distribution at dedicated events or in dedicated publications” will not face criminal charges from the government, according to the draft, which can be seen here, in Russian.
Earlier this year, sanctions against the use of Bitcoin Russian news organization Interfax relayed in September that the manufacture, acquisition for the purpose of selling, as well as their distribution, may be punished by a fine of up to 300 thousand Rubles. Or the proven salary, or income, for the period up to one year, or by compulsory works up to 360 hours, or correctional labor up to one year.
As we’ve shown here, these updates are subject to change, but it appears that Bitcoin is not a carnal sin for the citizens of Russia, at least in the short term. As long as Russia is in the Christmas spirit, their people can enjoy a newly encrypted holiday season.