Russia’s Ministry of Finance softens stance on Bitcoin

Maria Nikolova

The Russian authorities do not see immediate threats to the nation’s economic security stemming from crypto-currencies.

The Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation seems to be slowing down and softening its harsh opposition regarding Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev, quoted by TASS news agency, said that Russia’s Central Bank and the Federal Financial Monitoring Service did not see any threats from the use of crypto-currencies.

As a result, the Ministry of Finance will continue to monitor the situation but no decisive steps will be taken with regards to crypto-currencies. Mr Moiseyev added that there is no certainty that such threats will not arise in the future.

The official statement is a good piece of news for fans of Bitcoin in Russia, as the Ministry of Finance has been working on amendments to the Criminal Code. These amendments treat the issue and turnover of crypto-currency as serious criminal offenses, which entail prison sentences of up to 7 years.

In the face of the official position of the Russian authorities regarding Bitcoin, the use of the crypto-currency in Russia is growing. According to data announced in February last year by a Bank of Russia official, Russia took the 5th place in the international ranking for Bitcoin use.

Russia’s central bank has published its harsh stance against the use of bitcoin and other virtual currencies in January 2014. Back then, the regulator explained that Bitcoin is a type of a money surrogate, which can be used for money laundering and terrorism funding. The bank warned that any provision of Bitcoin exchange services in Russia will be treated as law violation.

However, over the past year, the Russian “Megaregulator” seems to have warmed up towards the use of innovative technologies. It has even set up a special commission that explores the applications of blockchain. But the strict Bank of Russia’s “No” regarding Bitcoin is still officially present.

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