The Russian Bitcoin Ban is still incoming, so it seems. Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has finally acted on a court order from 2014. Russia is currently blocking access to several (seven at last count) Bitcoin-related sites. These websites have been blocked because Bitcoin contributes to the growth of the shadow economy.” Some feel that this is just a warm-up for the upcoming Russian Bitcoin ban.
Last year, Russia’s Ministry of Finance revealed a full draft of their proposed Russian Bitcoin Ban legislation. Russia’s stated goal has been to ban Bitcoin by 2015, despite some misgivings from the Bank of Russia.
As any Bitcoin believer will tell you, the Bitcoin network is incredibly difficult to block because of its p2p nature. Just imagine the difficulty that the world’s governments and corporations have had trying to stamp out BitTorrent, and you’ll have a semblance of an idea of why any Bitcoin Ban is a cause of confusion. However, it is now clear that Russia is continuing with its stated plan to ban Bitcoin by the end of 2015. We’ve previously heard that the Russian government would fine users found to be “creating, mining, or issuing Bitcoin or other digital currencies.” The fines would be between 30,000 and 50,000 rubles for individuals and up to 1,000,000 rubles for business or legal entities.
Just today, the Russian government has revealed their other tool in their planned ban: blocking Bitcoin-related websites. Notable among the blocked websites are Bitcoin.org, btcsec.com, and bitcoinconf.ru. Btcsec is the most popular Russian language online Bitcoin hub while Bitcoinconf.ru was planning Russia’s first Bitcoin conference.
The complete list of blocked services, thus far, is (Please comment and share if any others are down):
The Roskamnadzor has a tool that allows you to check if your website is being blocked by the Russian government which you can use here . Igor Chepkasov, Chairman of the Crypto Currencies Foundation of Russia, told CoinDesk that these preliminary website blocks are likely a “dress rehearsal for the prohibition of bitcoin in Russia.”
One of the blocked services, Coinspot, posted to their blog to explain the situation as best they could:
[…]no one contacted directly, the decision was made unilaterally, we have no idea where is the court of the city Nevyansk , and what he has to do Cryptocurrency and the Internet in general.
Coinspot additionally questioned the Russian government actions, especially since the proposed Bitcoin Ban hasn’t even been enacted yet.
Once again, we recall that there is no single statute prohibiting the use Cryptocurrency in Russia.
Images from Shutterstock.