The website of OKX, a Seychelles-registered crypto exchange, was blocked in Russia, according to Roskomsvoboda, a local NGO (non-governmental organization) that is monitoring online censorship.
The reasons for the ban are unknown and no previous public comments related to OKX has been voiced by the agency. CoinDesk couldn't locate the original document, and OKX didn't respond to a request for comment.
The ban also can be found in the official database of Roskomnadzor, Russia's internet censorship agency. OKX's website was blocked according to the article 15.3 of the federal law, On the Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information, according to Roskomnadzor's registry. The article covers public calls for extremist activities and information about organizations banned in Russia.
Roskomnadzor and Roskomsvoboda's names are similar as the freedom-of-speech advocates mocked the censorship's agency brand by replacing "nadzor" (oversight in Russian) by "svoboda" (freedom).
According to Artem Kozlyuk, founder of Roskomsvoboda, even the owners of blacklisted websites usually don't know why they have been blacklisted and can find out only by suing Roskomnadzor. Website hosting services, which are obliged to block banned websites, also know only about the fact of blacklisting. The only information publicly shared is the number of a decision and the article of law, Kozlyuk told CoinDesk.
OKX, which is the third-largest crypto exchange in the world by trading volume according to CoinGecko, isn't the first exchange that Russia has blocked. In June 2021, Binance's website was blocked by a local court, which said "issuance and usage of bitcoins are fully decentralized, and there is no way to regulate it by the government, which contradicts the current Russian law."
Binance, however, said it never received any complaints from regulators. In January 2021, the company successfully overturned the ban in court.
Russian government bodies and agencies have been scrambling to work out a universal approach to cryptocurrencies over the past few years. Crypto is recognized as a form or property by the law, On the Digital Assets, but it can't be used for payments in Russia. Taxation rules are yet to be confirmed in a bill that's now stuck in the Russian parliament.
The Bank of Russia, the country's central bank, has been consistently hostile to crypto, a stance it reiterated in February. And Ivan Chebeskov, a Ministry of Finance official, just told the Izvestia newspaper that some Russian companies are already using cryptocurrencies for cross-border payments but didn't give any examples.
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