The Russian Ministry of Finance is preparing a “brilliant” bill that will make all Russian Bitcoin businessmen, users, journalists, developers and miners equal to terrorists — starting in 2016. If lawmakers approve the bill, how will the Russian community react to such a grotesque move?
At the end of September 2015, the Russian Ministry of Finance decided to renew their old bill, created a year ago, in order to provide punishment “for production, sale, and unauthorized acquisition of cryptocurrencies.” The first version demanded that potential criminals pay 500,000 rubles, and perform 480 hours of compulsory community service — or 2 years of correctional tasks.
By now, a document prepared by the Ministry workers says that any Bitcoin user from Russia is responsible for “circulation of monetary substitutes,” which is punishable with 4 years of prison.
Who Doesn’t Like Bitcoin in Russia?
The Federal Drug Control Service of Russia (FSKN) is highly interested in such a bill, because they think the Russian mafia uses bitcoins in drug trading. Such a position is supported by a list of other government related institutions, including the General Procurator’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Federal Security Service. They all think Bitcoin could damage the economic wealth of Russia and cause unpredictable harm. Strange, but almost all those institutions simply don’t understand the exact structure of Bitcoin blockchain, as seen from their statements. For example, in 2014 a group of deputies from the “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” (“Fairy Russia”) party promised that they would guard citizens from an unexpected Bitcoin pyramid scheme crash:
“Cryptocurrencies threaten financial stability and the financial sovereignty of Russia” — the deputy of the State Duma Andrey Krutov says. — “We already have some troubles at the exchange, and we can’t allow people to try to save money in Bitcoin during the situation, as then they may turn into the deceived investors. We developed our own bill of responsibility for using cryptocurrencies, and during a few days it will be officially introduced in the State Duma.”
The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade also sees no advantages in the new type of money. Elena Lashkina, the Assistant Secretary of Head of Economic Development, told “Izvestia”:
It a high risk to use monetary substitutes, including cryptocurrencies, because they are backed by no assets, have lack of central regulation of emitting and there is no subject who is legally obliged to answer for its deeds. Anonymous nature of activities for emitting monetary substitutes by unlimited circle of people creates prerequisites for involvement of citizens and the companies in illegal activity, including legalization (“washing”) of income gained in the criminal way, and financing of terrorism.
The chief analyst of Binbank, Natalia Shilova, warns that cryptocurrencies are backed by nothing (neither gold, nor force of economy of a certain country), which means they can develop into a classical pyramid scheme without any responsibility from its founders.
Russian lawyers seem to be pretty indifferent to the new bill. According to Izvestia, the senior lawyer of the Yukov and Partners company, Irina Adamova, says that a “direct ban on cryptocurrency which is emitted out of the territory of Russia isnt [sic] assigned in the law about the Central Bank. Before these changes applied, criminal liability for using cryptocurrencies seem to be premature. Violators should be punished according to Art. 174 of Criminal Codex (‘Legalization (washing) of money or other property acquired by other persons in a criminal way’).”
Roman Prokhorov, former chief of the department of national payment system of the Central Bank, specifies that the only way to give cryptocurrency a chance in Russia is to establish a set of strict rules and elimination of anonymity.
Who Loves Bitcoin in Russia?
Fortunately, many people in this beautiful country are in love with cryptocurrencies. Artists, programmers, translators, journalists, filmmakers, musicians, businessmen, traders and many other members of the Russian intellectual minority are proud to use innovative technologies, despite the incoming ban. The situation by now only causes a bewilderment among them, and nobody thinks that this bill would be something that will actually go into effect.
A number of the Central Bank of Russia’s top managers seem to support cryptocurrencies; such a conclusion can be made out of their actions and speeches. For example, this summer the senior vice-president of the Bank, Georgii Luntovskii, said that, “Its [sic] unnecessary to ban this instrument, maybe its [sic] our future.” In September 2015, another vice-president of CBR, Olga Skorobogatova, said on a forum in Kazan that the regulator had created a workgroup to investigate the capabilities of blockchain protocol.
The National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) from Moscow is now taking active efforts to spread the word about Bitcoin to a wide audience. Its chief, Yaroslav Kuzminov, is married to Elvira Nabiullina, the current head of the Central Bank of Russia.
In general, the bill’s only real purpose may be to scare the old people of Russia, together with the patriots, the clinical idiots, and everyone who hasn’t heard of cryptocurrency yet.
Will Russia be the last country on Earth to adopt Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!