Russia’s Finance Ministry militates for prison time, meant for Bitcoin users

By Daniel Zo Bitcoin, Russia

During the last couple of months, governments from all around the world have begun tinkering with the idea of accepting Bitcoin as a currency, and finding uses for its underlying technology, which is the Blockchain.

However, there are still nations which are truly hostile towards the idea of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, and one such example is Russia. In fact, recent reports mention that the Russian Finance Ministry has proposed a bill, which serves the purpose of punishing those found guilty of trading or mining bitcoin with 4 years of prison time.

The proposal is quite surprising, as current legislative framework already had tough punishments for those found undertaking the two activities. The penalties included a fine of 500,000 rubles, which roughly translates to around $8000, alongside with one to three years of community service. However, it seems like both the Russian Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development believe that the punishments were too lenient.

Together with this, it also seems that a couple of Ministries and Services are involved in the fight against Bitcoin. These include the Ministry of Interior alongside with the Federal Security and Drug Control Services. These Ministries believe that Bitcoin is a threat to the Russian economy, and safety, as it’s presumably mostly used to finance criminal activity, and as a means of money laundering.

Regardless of the strong legislative pressure and the proposal in question, a new cryptocurrency known by the name of Bit-Ruble, created by Qiwi, a payment processor from Russia is expected to be launched sometime in 2016. The project will likely face a couple of setbacks, especially since the bill be forwarded to the competent authorities in a couple of months. While there may be some edits to the original bill, its main purpose will likely remain the same- discourage the use of Bitcoin.

Elena Lashkina, who is the Assistant Minister of Economic Development, has stated that:

 ‘Operations with the cryptocurrency are speculative in nature, and are carried out at so-called virtual exchanges and carry a high risk of changes in its value.

The use of surrogates, including cryptocurrency, is associated with a high level of risk. The anonymous nature of the production of money substitutes, including cryptocurrency, brings in dangerous factors that create conditions for the involvement of citizens and companies in illegal activity, including the laundering of money from criminal and terrorist activity.’

Judging by the recent events, and Russia’s history of fighting against digital currencies, it’s unlikely that we will see the authorities becoming more lenient in the near future. However, if bitcoin continues to grow at this rate, chances are that the countries that now oppress the use of cryptocurrencies will end up losing financial opportunities.

Based on everything that has been outlined so far, what do you personally think about Russia’s attitude towards the cryptocurrency? Do you believe that it is uncalled for?