Russia’s Interior Ministry Defers to Central Bank for Bitcoin Guidance

Russia's top cybercrime official has issued new statements on bitcoin and its current uncertain regulatory environment.

Feb 9, 2015 at 6:15 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. UTC
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Russia Ministry of Interior

The Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation (MVD) has issued new statements on bitcoin and its possible regulation under domestic law.

The agency tasked with implementing government policy and regulation suggested it would wait on a decision by the Bank of Russia, the country’s central bank, before taking any action on matters of policy.

Alexey Moshkov, chief of the agency’s special technical activities bureau, told Russia-based news agency TASS:

"We rely on decisions of our regulator and will act in line with the legislative practice in this area.”

The remark is notable given that, in contrast to other government agencies, members of the Bank of Russia historically have been open to bitcoin as a technology, arguing for a wait-and-see approach to regulation that would also mitigate its use by criminals.

Moshkov went on to voice his belief that bitcoin and digital currencies are unregulated in the country, and that this presents a risk to users. Further, he noted that bitcoin and digital currency users currently do not have recourse should they suffer losses.

Head of Russia's division dedicated to cybercrime enforcement, Moshkov reports to internal affairs director Vladimir Kolokoltsov.

Regulation discussion evolves

While unable to directly influence the outcome of Russia’s policies toward bitcoin, the MVD nonetheless has hinted at how this conversation may evolve among federal agencies.

Russia’s Ministry of Finance, for example, has been perhaps the most vocal agency, issuing a proposal in August that would call for the ban of “monetary surrogates”, the wording of the definition suggesting that bitcoin and digital currencies would be captured under the law.

The agency later moved to introduced proposed fines for Russian citizens that issue or create digital currencies, or otherwise promote their use.

Though the measure isn't expected to be voted on until the spring of 2015, the legal environment for digital currency startups in Russia remains murky, with its communications body most recently blocking bitcoin websites.

MVD image via Wikipedia; Moscow image via Shutterstock

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