Business

Erik Gibbs

Russian crypto website sees ban overruled on appeal

The cryptocurrency space in Russia just receive a little bit of hope. A crypto website, bitcoininfo.ru, was handed a victory in an appeals court in Saint Petersburg, which has now ordered the website to be reinstated and its founder, Nikolay Tonkoshkurov, to receive restitution after, as the appeals court said, the site was unlawfully taken down by prosecutors and judges.

In 2016, prosecutors approached the Vyborgsky District Court in Saint Petersburg, asking that the site be blocked. They asserted that the site was a threat because of its cryptocurrency operations, and the courts subsequently agreed, determining that the site had published materials about Bitcoin that violated laws that state that “money surrogates” are illegal and go against Russia’s central bank.

The ruling was appealed, in part, because the site never had a chance to answer to the accusations in court. The appeal was rejected, but the case then made its way to Russia’s Supreme Court. That court ordered the Saint Petersburg City Court to hear the appeal and it then overturned the District Court’s ruling.

The case wasn’t done yet, however, and the ruling was appealed by prosecutors. Now, however, the Oktyabrsky District Court has upheld the City Court’s reversal, ordering the blocking of the site to be released and the owner compensated. He will receive 150 rubles, approximately $2,250.

Over the course of the past several years, a number of websites in Russia that have similar content to that of bitcoininfo.ru have been taken down. The Saint Petersburg court overturned a ban on 40 crypto-related sites this past March, but the bitcoininfo.ru case is the first that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The ruling could potentially set a precedent in the country.

According to the legal team that represented Roskomsvoboda, “From now on, prosecutors will think twice before filing ill-considered and unreasonable lawsuits that cause significant damage to both the Russian internet business and ordinary users.”

Just as there are in the fiat world, the crypto industry has seen a number of scam artists who aren’t willing to comply with the spirit or the letter of the law. There are currently more than 17 sites in Russia that are being investigated for fraudulent activity, but this doesn’t make the entire space bad. If that were the case, money of any form wouldn’t exist.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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