Russian authorities are reportedly planning to abandon efforts to institute criminal penalties for bitcoin users.
The news comes from a report issued today by Russian news agency Interfax in which it asserts that representatives from the country’s Ministry of Finance, central bank and other government bureaus are increasingly supportive of this action.
According to the report, representatives from these groups are planning to submit a report to Russian President Vladimir Putin containing this recommendation sometime in 2016.
If true, the report would end nearly two years of speculation that Russia would seek to actively discourage the use of cryptocurrencies and other “money surrogates” through administrative fines and labor penalties.
As outlined in 2014 and 2015, “legal entities” that introduced their own digital currencies would have faced fines of up to $25,000, while those who distributed the digital assets could have been punishable by correctional labor.
However, it appears such a proposal will require additional research by the involved parties.
The report states:
“At the same time, the meeting decided that it is necessary to monitor the use of virtual currency and further [analyze] the risks [associated with] using money surrogates for criminal purposes. With this in mind, it can be presented a proposal to amend the regulations if necessary.”
The latest statements come amid a softening by the Russian Ministry of Finance, formerly the most aggressive regulator domestically to push for the prohibition.
In July, deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseev went so far as to suggest cryptocurrencies could be regulated as a kind of foreign currency, a development that can be seen as stemming from the larger interest in blockchain domestically in recent months.
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