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Russian minister expects digital currency legalization soon

Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade, has revealed that regulations for the digital currency industry are close to arriving. The minister expects the legalization of digital currencies in Russia to happen this year.

Russian news outlet Tass reports that Manturov made the statement while speaking at the New Horizon educational forum. The minister maintained that Russia had gone beyond the question of “if” digital currencies should be legalized.

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) and the Russian government are now fully engaged in drafting regulations for digital currencies. Hence it is now a question of when the legislation will be ready, he said.

“The question is when this will happen, how it will happen, and how it will be regulated. Now both the Central Bank and the government are actively engaged in this. But everyone is inclined to understand that this is a trend of the time, and sooner or later, in one format or another, it will be carried out,” the minister said.

He added that the rules will still be in line with Russia’s market laws. Manturov’s comment is coming after the opinions of the CBR and Russia’s finance ministry on digital currency adoption aligned.

Before the declaration of war on Ukraine, the CBR was pushing for a ban on digital currencies while the finance ministry proposed a bill to regulate and tax the industry.

However, the CBR has made a U-turn in its views. The central bank has now even issued its first license to a commercial bank to allow it to issue digital currencies, according to a Fortune report.

Similarly, the CBR is also accelerating its work on a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Elvira Nabiullina, CBR president, announced that a pilot phase of the digital ruble will likely be launched in 2023.

Will digital currencies help Russia evade sanctions?

While Russia is giving serious consideration to digital currency adoption, doubt remains that the asset class will help it evade the international sanctions it is facing. For one, the international sanctions Russia faces also prohibit trading them from trading with digital currencies.

One such sanction is from the U.S. Treasury Department. The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added digital currency rules to its Russian sanctions. Under the OFAC rules, no U.S. citizen or entity is to trade with any designated Russian entity.

CNBC reports that the international sanctions have put a strain on Russia’s multi-billion-dollar digital currency market and also its block reward mining industry.

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