Russia’s Deputy Minister of Finance Alexey Moiseev has reportedly told a national banking conference that the country will move to ban Bitcoin this year.
The Ministry of Finance still appears determined to forge ahead with its proposed ban, despite opposition from the Ministry of Economic Development, which pointed out that such a ban also has ramifications for non-cryptocurrency related businesses. The Interior Ministry has said that it will defer to the judgment of the central bank on the matter.
The legality of bitcoin use in the country has hung in limbo now for more than a year. Various statements throughout the period have been made, some indicating that individuals using bitcoin can be suspected of illegal activity, others declaring it illegal outright, and others saying that “such instruments should not be rejected” while authorities take a deeper look into the matter.
Cryptocurrency Foundation Russia (CCFR) Chairman Igor Chepkasov told Cointelegraph that the official who made the statements was “was either drunk, suicidal, or his department had reached some sort of agreement with the Ministry of Economic Development.” He was pessimistic over the Bitcoin community’s chances of fighting the ban, partly because it is “hopelessly divided”.
He added, “Russia has hopelessly sunk to the bottom. But I would like to reassure everyone: there is still room left to fall.”
The country’s ruble has challenged historical lows earlier this year as its economy struggles in the wake of declining oil prices and Western sanctions. For some, bitcoin as a currency would be viewed somewhat as a convenient safe haven.