Bitcoin and judge gavel laying on flag of Russia. Bitcoin legal situation in Russia concept. 3D rendering — Stock Editorial Photography

Ban Bitcoin or regulate it? Russia authorities eyeing a decision by 2022

Russian authorities are weighing whether to ban or legalize Bitcoin, a senior legislator has revealed. Anatoly Aksakov told local media that the authorities will decide on which direction to take in 2022. However, other reports have indicated that the Bank of Russia is working with stakeholders and financial authorities to ban digital currencies.

This is not the first time Russia is sending mixed signals to the digital currency industry. The one thing it has clarified is that Bitcoin can’t be used in the country for payments. It has not barred citizens from buying or holding digital currencies, although it has required public officials to reveal their holdings.

Aksakov, chair of the influential State Duma’s Committee on Financial Markets, told local media that the government is considering two completely opposite approaches—a blanket ban or legalizing digital currency exchanges. Speaking at a recent press conference, the lawmaker stated that the government needs to decide soon. He believes this could be in early 2022.

According to a report by Interfax, the lawmaker stated, “There exists a very tough approach about the complete prohibition of cryptocurrencies, such as acquisition or ownership. There [also] exists an approach where there must be appropriate crypto exchanges, where everything is legalized, transparent, and understandable to regulatory bodies.”

Aksakov believes it would be better for the Federal Tax Service to impose taxes on digital currency exchanges, implying he favors legalizing these entities.

However, on the same day when the lawmaker claimed the government was weighing which approach to take, Reuters reported that the Bank of Russia has already made up its mind and wants Bitcoin banned.

The central bank has criticized digital currencies for years and believes they pose a risk to the Russian banking and payments systems. According to sources within the bank, it’s now actively working with experts to have the industry banned in Russia.

Speaking to Reuters, two sources at the central bank revealed that if the ban goes through, it will only apply to new purchases and would not affect those that already own digital currencies. The bank admitted to the outlet that it’s working on an advisory report containing its views on digital currencies but declined from revealing any specifics.

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