Source: Adobe/Alexandr Blinov
Another major power has claimed it will not follow Beijing in pursuing cryptocurrencies nationwide – Moscow is the latest to distance itself from such a move after the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission appeared to rule out the idea. But Russia’s stance on cryptocurrencies could include a crucial caveat: Exchanges could be banished abroad.
Interfax quoted Alexey Moiseev, Russia’s deputy finance minister, as saying:
“At the moment, I can only say that [crypto] payments [are not allowed] on Russian territory. At the same time, citizens can buy [coins] and use wallets outside Russia. This will remain the case, I think. There are no plans to change anything at the moment.”
So far, the only crypto-specific law in Russia (promulgated on January 1 of this year) bans crypto payments, but offers little more than a “glossary of terms,” as reported last year*.* Moiseev agreed that key terms such as cryptoassets, digital assets, and blockchain technology remain undefined in the Civil Code – a problem that the government and lawmakers have been pushing for months, if not years.
Moiseev, however, indicated that Moscow would be happy for citizens to trade and own cryptocurrencies – provided the coins remain outside the country. Responding to questions from students following a lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the deputy minister said:
“Of course, a Russian citizen can have a wallet outside Russia, but they will be subject to prohibitions if they operate inside the country – I think – for the foreseeable future.”
Who was meant by “they” in this case was not clear, but the most likely answer is crypto exchanges.
Most of Russia’s largest crypto exchanges have moved their headquarters abroad in recent years, which could allow them to continue operating should there be a nationwide blackout of Russian-based trading platforms.
Moiseev claimed that “financial sovereignty” would be at risk if “a ban on operations with cryptocurrencies on Russian territory” was not put into effect.