Despite the rapid expansion of the cryptocurrency industry, digital assets like Bitcoin (BTC) and their promotion are not looked upon favorably everywhere, with the Russian government even blocking certain media sites for allegedly promoting money laundering.
Indeed, Roskomnadzor (RKN) – the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, blocked the website of a Russian crypto news site, Bits.media, for users of most major Russian providers, the outlet confirmed on June 30.
As it happens, the portal’s editors discovered that the reason for the blocking was the decision of the Volzhsky District Court of the city of Saratov that five internet addresses contained “information promoting money laundering.”
Verdicts without representation
According to the statement, the court’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the prosecutor’s office on March 31, with the decision being reached on April 24. The media outlet also said that the court’s website stated that judge Alla Danilenko considered the case without the presence of any of the blocked addresses’ owners.
The blocked addresses were not specifically named in the document, but the official ruling said that they contained “information aimed at promoting crimes in the field of legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime.”
Meanwhile, Bits.media intends to dispute the ruling, with its founder Ivan Tikhonov stating:
“We are an interested party in the case, but no one notified us of the proceedings. We were not given any opportunity to remove the materials about which the Saratov prosecutor’s office had questions. We strongly disagree with the verdict.”
Russia’s tradition of blocking crypto news sites
As per the statement, this isn’t the first time that the government tried to block Bits.media (and other crypto-related websites), with the same situation happening in January 2015, when the regulator referred to the decision of the Nevyansk city court of the Sverdov region.
Back then as well, the editors challenged the court’s decision, winning the case four months later, after which the Roskomnadzor unblocked the website. At the moment, the Bits.media website is accessible in Russia via VPN or proxies, as well as from abroad.
Legal vacuum around crypto in Russia
Russia has a complicated relationship with crypto, with even the country’s president Vladimir Putin requesting that the government and Central Bank come to an agreement on the expanding industry.
As Finbold reported in mid-April, the nation’s Ministry of Finance was preparing a rigorous regulatory framework that would address crypto mining in detail for the first time, after the Deputy Energy Minister urged for its legalization as soon as possible.
In late June, the Russian parliament was considering a new bill that would fine illicit crypto issuance or exchange with up to 5,000 Russian rubles ($86) for individuals and 30,000 rubles ($516) for officials.