It seems that Russia’s ban on the usage of Bitcoin is working. As early as this time last month, Russia was actually in the top 3 when it came to ranking Bitcoin client download totals by country. It seemed that Russians were extremely interested in the digital currency, until certain members of the Russian government started to talk about Bitcoin in a negative manner. Russia is now in seventh place when it comes to Bitcoin downloads per week, which is a rather low spot for one of the largest countries in the world. China and the United States still own the top two spots, but there were only around 630 downloads from Sourceforge by people in Russia this past week.
Since merchants can be accused of money laundering if they accept bitcoins in exchange for goods or services, most Russians are only using the digital currency for speculation. Bar Killfish was the last business in Russia to accept Bitcoin, and recent statements from the Russian government are likely what forced them to go back to only accepting rubles. 99% of the people accused of a crime in Russia are eventually convicted of that crime, so there’s no use in people trying to get around the law in this country. This is one country that has chosen tyranny over freedom when it comes to Bitcoin regulation. Although Russians are now less interested in using Bitcoin in their real lives, they still seem interested in cryptocurrency as a whole. Russia is still in our top ten when it comes to listing visitors to CryptoCoinsNews by country.
Since you can be accused of wrongdoing and thrown in jail at the whim of a government official, it is unlikely that the Russian people will try to get around the currency usage laws related to Bitcoin. It seems the only scenario where Bitcoin could become popular in Russia once again would be if there was a hyperinflation scenario. Inflation in Russia hasn’t been low over the past decade, and they’ve definitely had to deal with hyperinflation scenarios in the past. It’s possible that bitcoins could be viewed as a better store of value in a hyperinflation scenario, but many people still view the digital currency as nothing more than a ponzi scheme. With the MMM case still in the minds of many Russian people, it would be hard to say how many of them would switch over to bitcoins in a situation where the value of their savings depended on it. Russians also have to jump through hoops to get bitcoins from BTC-e or more expensive, fixed-rate alternatives, so just obtaining bitcoins can be a battle in its own right.