The Russian Head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, has an issue with the information age. In fact, the Investigation Chief would like the ways of the Old Soviet Union to take hold of his country again. Bastrykin also has a problem with cryptocurrencies and would criminalize the use of the virtual money if he had his way.
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Investigation Chief Would Penalize Bitcoin Users
In an editorial written in the Kommersant, Russia’s Head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin said that “It’s time to put up a defense against this information war, a tough, adequate and symmetrical answer is needed.”
Bastrykin is one of Putin’s select circle of siloviki, which roughly means “muscle” in Russian. Most of them have a similar point of view but don’t speak it publicly that often. The chief doesn’t believe much in “faux-democracy” as he calls it, or civil rights and feels the country needs to be guided by an “ideological foundation” akin to the Soviet Union.
One concept Bastrykin sees as a “threat” to the state is the use of free market currency such as Bitcoin. The chief prosecutor believes that a digital currency law is needed to criminalize its use. Bastrykin approves of Chinese style internet censorship and wouldn’t allow an alternative money to push government issued fiat off the market.
As we’ve seen from experience, terrorism is partially funded by cryptocurrency, which has not central point of emission or control over transactions and is characterized by anonymous payments. Moreover, wide-scale distribution of these currencies can push legal money out of the market, which poses a threat to the financial stability of the government. With this in mind, it has been proposed to introduce criminal penalties for illegally issuing and circulating cryptocurrencies as well as other money surrogates.
Bastrykin is not a fan of what the west’s “faux-democracy” and believes that openness has exposed Russia to extremism. He believes that the “information war” is partially responsible for radicalizing some Russian citizens causing them to join extreme groups such as the Islamic State. Bastrykin would censor certain websites that are deemed “extreme” by the state and would apply this censorship to schools, colleges and libraries. Those against this totalitarian rule would face criminal prosecution such as bloggers spreading adverse information.
The Russian government under Putin has had some democratic influence and contrasts in comparison to Bastrykin’s vision. Putin and Russia’s Central Bank have been open to the idea of cryptocurrency compared to other officials such as German Klimenko, for example, along with the Ministry of Finance who have been staunch opponents of the idea. Now the Investigation Chief proposes returning back to the ways of the old Soviet Union with a “clear government-imposed ideology.” Under Bastrykin’s rule Bitcoin, freedom of speech, and “extreme” democratic concepts would not fly.
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