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Russia Is Blocking Bitcoin-Related Websites Again

Russian internet censorship agency Roskomnadzor has persuaded a court to block various crypto sites including a popular bitcoin OTC data provider.

Aug 27, 2020 at 1:18 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:48 a.m. UTC

BestChange.ru, an aggregator of over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency providers in Russia, is one of a number of websites being blocked by the country's internet censorship agency, Roskomnadzor.

  • This is the third block of the firm by the Russian authorities and comes as the result of a lawsuit brought by Roskomnadzor, according to BestChange's head of public relations, Nikita Zuborev.
  • BestChange lists the current prices and liquidity supply at the most popular OTC brokers in Russia and its neighboring countries, but isn't involved in trades.
  • Previous lawsuits were successfully overturned by BestChange in court, Zuborev said.
  • While a court approved blocking of the websites including BestChange on Jan. 22, the firm was apparently only notified on July 23.
  • "We always hear about the lawsuits 'accidentally,' we never get a subpoena [in time] and our lawyers always have to request a time extension to appeal first and then get to the lawsuit itself," Zuborev said.
  • The lawsuit also targeted cryptocurrency news websites and even an online flower shop, all of which, according to Roskomnadzor, were offering bitcoin for sale or goods in exchange for bitcoin.
  • "The issuance and usage of bitcoin is decentralized and can't be controlled by the state, which violates Russian laws," the court's decision reads.
  • BestChange said it plans to appeal the ruling and recommended users either employ a proxy to get around the block or go to the "mirror" version of the website using its .net domain.
  • Bitcoin is not illegal in Russia, but it may not be used as a mean of payment, according to a bill recently signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
  • As far back as 2015, Russia was trying to limit access to crypto-related websites, blocking even resources like Bitcoin.org.
  • The country's central bank said it supported such measures in 2017 if platforms were selling cryptocurrency in Russia.
  • BestChange saw almost 3.3 million views in July, with most traffic coming from Russia, Ukraine and Turkmenistan, according to SimilarWeb.
  • OTC is the most popular way to buy crypto in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States countries, Zuborev said.

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