Useful summary from the Verge on Russia’s crypto love hate relationship.
After years of ambiguous signals, Russian president Vladimir Putin finally clarified Russia’s stance on cryptocurrencies last week with five presidential orders demanding officials set up a legal framework to handle digital currencies. The orders include plans to tax crypto miners, regulate ICOs, sandbox legislation for newly developed blockchain technologies, and an order that outlines the “formation of a single payment space,” likely part of the digital ruble initiative that the Russian Central Bank has been pursuing. It’s a surprising development that could solidify cryptocurrency acceptance within the Russian Federation.
Direct from the Kremlin: another day, another policy shift on crypto, this time positive for digital currencies.
Reuters reports on Russian President Putin’s statement that crypto-currencies were risky and used for crime, as Russia’s central bank said it would block websites selling bitcoin and its rivals – a change of tact from last month’s promise to legalize the market.
Central Bank First Deputy Governor Sergei Shvetsov told a conference in Moscow that the currencies were “dubious” and investors needed to be protected.
“We cannot stand apart. We cannot give direct and easy access to such dubious instruments for retail (investors),” Shvetsov said.
Around 1,000 miles (1,600 km) further south in the resort of Sochi, Putin told reporters that crypto-currencies could be used to launder money, evade taxes and finance terrorism.
“The usage of crypto-currencies carries serious risks. I know the central bank’s position on that,” Putin said.
“Crypto-currencies are issued by an unlimited number of anonymous bodies. Thus buyers of crypto-currencies could be involved in unlawful activities,” Putin said.
Russian financial authorities initially treated any sort of money issued by non-state approved institutions as illegal, saying they could be used to launder money.
But Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said last month that the authorities had to accept that the virtual currencies existed.
“There is no sense in banning them, there is a need to regulate them,” Siluanov said in September, adding that his ministry was working on a law including registration of those willing to buy the virtual money.
Russia is drawing up rules about how to conduct initial coin offerings, breaking ranks with China after President Vladimir Putin signalled his approval for digital currencies.
While China slapped a blanket ban on ICOs this month, the government in Moscow plans to regulate cryptocurrencies like securities rather than outlawing them, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters on Friday. That marks a full reversal from his ministry’s proposal last year to punish people who use digital currencies with up to seven years in jail.