According to a Reuters report, Sergei Shvetsov – first deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) has stated today that Russia will block access to websites belonging to exchanges and trading platforms offering cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
The central bank official was speaking at a financial markets conference today when he pointed to the “dubious” nature of bitcoin – as an investment instrument for retail investors.
We cannot stand apart. We cannot give direct and easy access to such dubious instruments for retail (investors).
The central bank deputy governor’s comments are in contrast to those offered by Russia’s finance minister Anton Siluanov last month. Speaking at a financial forum in Moscow at the time, Siluanov called for the Russian government to accept the reality cryptocurrencies permeating into society. “There is no sense in banning them, there is a need to regulate them,” stated Russia’s finance minister less than a month ago.
However, according to the central banker, the blockade is to protect retail everyday investors from bitcoin’s volatility.
We think that for our citizens, for businesses the usage of such cryptocurrencies as an investment object carries unreasonably high risks.
In early 2016, European bitcoin exchanges Bitstamp and BTC-e were blocked temporarily by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecom regulator, effectively putting the domains in a blacklist shared by all Russian ISPs.
The telecom regulator has also blocked access to multiple bitcoin-related websites in 2015 in anticipation of a legislative ban on bitcoin that never came to pass. The blockade was soon overturned in a Russian court. In September 2016, the regulator blocked access to popular peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platform LocalBitcoins.
Shvetsov’s revelatory comments on the central bank’s stance on cryptocurrencies coincide with similar recent statements by Russia’s deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseev. In a televised interview in August, Moiseev compared cryptocurrency investments to that of a “high-risk” financial pyramid, ahead of regulations expected in 2018. Moisev also revealed that regulations could allow “only qualified investors to buy and sell [bitcoin]” in exchanges in the country.
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