It’s been building up for a few weeks now, but Russia has finally decided to ban bitcoins as a form of money. In a statement released by the Prosecutor General’s Office, it has been claimed that “bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies carry the risk of violating citizen’s property rights.” The main point of the statement was to point out that all forms of currency, besides the Russian ruble, are already banned in Russia. This means that dollars, euros, yuan, bitcoins, litecoins, and dogecoins all fall into the same category. It seems that the penalty for accepting bitcoins carries a maximum of five years in prison. BTC-e has suspended ruble deposits and withdrawals in reaction to the news.
What Does This Mean for Bitcoin?
This should not come as a huge surprise to anyone in the Bitcoin community. Russia is not exactly the greatest example of a free country, so it should be obvious where they are going to come down in the black and white debate between government control or freedom in the coming years. It’s important to remember that there are nearly 200 countries around the world. Some of them are going to try to ban Bitcoin. The countries that embrace Bitcoin will turn out like the countries who embraced the Internet, while the countries who try to control every aspect of human life will start to head in a downward spiral of oppression.
Impact on the United States
Fred Wilson went on a rant about how Bitcoin is about freedom at the recent hearings in New York, and he mentioned that any company banned by China is probably a place where you should invest your money. His last point during his statement on Bitcoin’s relation to freedom was that this debate is about whether or not a “country wants to embrace innovation, free speech, and freedom.” He then sarcastically concluded that he’s “glad to live in a country that does that.” The point here is that a country like Russia putting a ban on the use of bitcoins should not be a surprise from the American perspective. What would be a surprise is the United States not taking the opposite approach, like what they did with the Internet.