No Crypto Crackdown in Russia but Keep Coins off Russian Soil, Official Warns
Another major power has claimed it will not follow Beijing in a nationwide crypto crackdown – with Moscow the latest to distance itself from such a move, days after the United States Securities and Exchanges Commission appeared to rule out the notion. But there could be a key caveat to Russia’s stance on crypto: Exchanges may be banished overseas.
Interfax quoted Alexey Moiseev, the Russia Deputy Finance Minister, as stating:
“At present, I can only say that [crypto] payments [are not permitted] on Russian territory. At the same time, citizens can buy [coins] and use wallets outside Russia. That will remain the case, I think. There are currently no plans to change anything.”
Thus far the only crypto-specific law in Russia (which promulgated on January 1 this year) bans crypto payments, but provides little more than a “glossary of terms,” as reported last year. Moiseev agreed that key terms like cryptoassets, digital assets, and blockchain technology were still undefined by the civil code – a can the government and lawmakers have been kicking down the road for months if not years.
Moiseev, however, suggested that Moscow was happy for citizens to trade and own crypto – provided coins stay out of the country. In answer to students’ questions following a lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the Deputy Minister said:
“Of course, a Russian citizen can have a wallet outside Russia, but they will be subject to bans if they operate within the country – I think – for the foreseeable future.”
Who “they” was meant to refer to in this case was not clear, but the most likely answer is crypto exchanges.
The majority of the largest Russian crypto exchanges have relocated their headquarters overseas in recent years, which could allow them to continue operating should a nationwide blackout of Russia-based trading platforms follow.
Moiseev claimed that “financial sovereignty” would be compromised if “a ban on operations with cryptocurrencies on Russian territory” were not enacted.
Dmitry Machikhin, CEO of the crypto accounting service Bitnalog, told Cryptonews.com that the deputy minister’s statement “doesn’t tell us whether Russian crypto exchanges have to leave or not,” as no trading platform is currently “legally incorporated in Russia, due to a lack of legislation.”
“In the nearest future, some exchanges will [nominally] become digital asset operators according to the terms of legislation that became effective on January 2021.”
Machikhin also spoke about the direction of crypto regulation in Russia, claiming that these could be make-or-break. The CEO concluded:
“The future of crypto regulation in Russia is taxes and anti-money laundering protocols. If the government finds a way to get new revenue streams out of crypto and adopts FATF measures (if ratified), the industry will live happily ever after. If not, it could be done for.”
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(Updated at 14:40 UTC with comments from Dmitry Machikhin.)