Moves to regulate digital currencies in Russia are facing another setback following reports the finance ministry is delaying the introduction of a bill regulating cryptocurrencies until 2017.
For years, authorities in Russia, particularly the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federations, has been very vocal in opposing digital currency in the country. In fact, ministry officials has been working on a draft law that will punish those who use bitcoins and engage cryptocurrency trade and mining activities.
That bill, however, has met strong opposition even before reaching the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament. In May, the Ministry of Justice challenged the bill’s lack of a precise definition for money substitutes or ‘surrogates,’ which is the term that Russian officials often use to describe bitcoin.
The Ministry of Finance wanted a four-year imprisonment and maximum penalty of 4,000 rubies (US$7,000) for Russians found using digital currencies, while bitcoin traders and miners will be imprisoned for up to six years and pay a penalty of 1 million rubies (US$14,000) or pay the equivalent of their salaries for a period of two to four years.
Moiseev, however, admitted several months ago that they were altering the legislation since imposing a blanket ban on cryptocurrency “is probably not worth implementing,” given the fast-paced development of technology.
The Russian government recently published a document that defined the bitcoin and other forms of digital currencies as foreign currencies, and since trading operations involving digital currencies are to be treated as foreign currency transactions, this means that transfers will not be subjected to financial reporting.
At the same time, Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, and the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) have teamed up in October to test a pilot program for storing documents, which is based on the blockchain technology.
Current bitcoin price and trade volume
The price of bitcoin went up slightly on Wednesday morning, trading at $758.13 with a trade volume of $131.79 million.