The prosecutors reminded LavkaLavka that the Russian law prohibits the acceptance of money surrogates. However, no violations were found in the actions of the co-op.
The stance of Russian authorities and businesses regarding Bitcoin and the technologies associated with it has been overall positive over the past several months. That is why the latest news in this respect are somewhat surprising as the Russian prosecutors have been “holding discussions” with businesses over their right to accept Bitcoin payments.
One of the founders of farmers’ co-op LavkaLavka was invited by Russian prosecutors for a “chat”, a report by Russian newspaper “Vedomosti” says. The prosecutors of the Lefortovo district questioned him over Bitcoin acceptance by the entity.
In the end, the prosecutors could not find any violations in the actions by LavkaLavka but did warn that Russian laws permit only Ruble acceptance and that money surrogates are prohibited.
The prosecutors’ comments replicate what the Bank of Russia said in its warning concerning virtual currencies back in 2014. Back then, the regulator noted that the issue and use of money surrogates in Russia can be treated as violations of AML and terrorism financing laws.
However, the temperature regarding crypto currencies and technologies associated with them has been higher in Russia. Even the Bank of Russia has markedly changed its attitude towards Bitcoin and its likes. In fact, the “megaregulator” is reported to be working on a national virtual currency.
Furthermore, the legal framework for crypto currencies is currently being drafted. According to Russia’s Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev Russia’s cryptocurrency legislation will be similar to a degree to that of Japan, and to a degree to that of New York (the New York DFS licensing system).
Blockchain is also getting some regulatory attention, as in May it became clear that the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications expects the legal provisions for the legalization of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to be in place in 2019. In March this year, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev joined the supporters of blockchain technology by instructing the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications and the Ministry of Economic Development to study the possible applications of the blockchain technology.
At this point, crypto currencies are not officially regulated in Russia. They are not outlawed either.