An official from Russia’s Ministry of Finance has indicated the financial regulator now supports changes to a proposed law that would still ban bitcoin domestically but carve out provisions for its use as a foreign currency.
In a new interview with state-owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseev said the change in tone is part of a broader effort to limit the use of alternatives to the ruble domestically, while removing uncertainty for those working with blockchain, its underlying distributed ledger technology.
The announcement represents a significant change in tone for the organization, which has long pressed forward on a bill to ban digital currencies, as well as impose criminal penalties on their users, despite more favorable remarks from the Russian central bank.
According to the interview, the Ministry of Finance continues to support a ban on the use of bitcoin in Russia, a move it believes is supported by its Constitution, which mandates the ruble be the sole currency in use for national commerce.
Still, Moiseev suggested his agency will seek to adjust the law to allow citizens to use bitcoin, and even profit from using bitcoin as a "foreign currency" in areas where such activities are legal.
"Can Russian citizens have a wallet and pay bitcoins in those countries where it is allowed? Why not? Therefore, we are formulating the law in such a way in order to allow buying cryptocurrencies for foreign operations and allow Russian citizens to sell bitcoins for profit reasons in foreign countries."
Moiseev also clarified that, at present, there is nothing preventing the use of bitcoin domestically, and that the intent isn’t to limit development of blockchain technology, but prevent its use from threatening the ruble.
"We must remove responsibility for bitcoin emission from data operators in order to avoid risk of their punishment," Moiseev told the news source.
He said an updated version of the law could be submitted to the state law-making body, the Duma, before the end of 2016.
Image via Rossiyskaya Gazeta