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Russian Lawyers Debate Legality of Crypto Firm Selling Drinks for BTC

Russian Lawyers Debate Legality of Crypto Firm Selling Drinks for BTC 101
Source: Adobe/motortion

An event organizer in Moscow recently sold over USD 1,600 worth of drinks in bitcoin (BTC) to attendees – but experts are divided when it comes to answering the question: was it legal?

The event was the brainchild of a crypto startup named Chatex, but per RBC, it has courted controversy.

A recently passed law, which promulgates on January 1, 2021, prohibits the use of BTC and altcoins to pay for goods and services. However, it does not prohibit the purchase, issuance, or sale of digital tokens.

The media outlet quotes a Moscow-based lawyer and member of the Russian Bar Association as stating that as the new law is yet to come into force, Chatex had done nothing wrong. However, the lawyer pointed out that this would soon change. As of next year, the law is clear on the point of crypto pay – defining what is and is not a cryptoasset. Although companies could technically accept crypto “gifts,” they would not be able to build a business model based on selling goods if bitcoin and altcoin payments were involved.

However, another lawyer, also based in the Russian capital, stated that as the company is headquartered in Estonia, Russian laws may not apply to it. Furthermore, the second lawyer added, bitcoin can still be exchanged for other goods – in barter or swap-like deals. The only caveat here is that these deals would not be legally recognized in Russia, and this would not be covered by statutory protection under sales legislation.

The lawyer added that even though foreign currencies are not legal tender in Russia, they are also covered by property rights legislation, and courts could consider that bitcoin falls into the same category.

On a related note, experts say that there is a slim chance of new Russian crypto law emerging anytime soon.

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