The Supreme Court will determine whether it is possible to disseminate information about Bitcoin in the Russian Federation

Over the past five years, Roskomnadzor has blocked about 275,000 different sites, including 97,000 sites blocked on the basis of court decisions recognizing information prohibited for distribution in Russia. More than 40 cryptocurrency websites have been blocked in the Russian Federation. The owners of one of these sites did not agree with the court decision - and reached right up to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

The interests of the resource owners are represented by the leading lawyer of the Roskomsvoboda project, partner of the Center for Digital Rights Law Firm Sarkis Darbinyan. He reported RBC, that this is the first complaint about the legality of blocking a resource about bitcoin, which will be considered by the Supreme Court. The process is actually unique. The question is whether it is possible to disseminate information on the “surrogate” in the Russian Federation under the name Bitcoin, which “undermines the constitutional system and authority of Russia,” as the court of first instance determined.

Why was blocked?

On July 18, 2016, the Vyborgsky District Court of St. Petersburg ruled
in case No. 2-10119 / 2016 ~ M-9635/2016 . The lawsuit was filed by the prosecutor of the Vyborg district, who demanded that Roskomnadzor block access.

As stated in the court decision, the site contains information about the electronic currency Bitcoin, which is a "virtual means of payment and accumulation." The court decided that this information violates the provisions of the law “On the Central Bank of the Russian Federation” . According to the law, the official monetary unit in Russia is the ruble and the introduction of other currencies and the issue of monetary substitutes are prohibited.

Moreover, this information "Undermines the constitutional system and authority" of Russia, as well as the "foundations of the material well-being of citizens" of the country , which "violates the rights and legitimate interests of an indefinite number of persons gaining access to illegal information, and therefore is subject to restriction."

Similar formulations were used by the Oktyabrsky District Court of St. Petersburg, which in May 2017 decided to restrict access to 40 similar sites. “Cryptocurrencies, including bitcoins, are money surrogates, contribute to the growth of the shadow economy and cannot be used by citizens and legal entities in Russia. The free dissemination of information about electronic currency determines the active use of cryptocurrency in the sale of drugs, weapons, fake documents and other criminal activities, ”the court of first instance said. But on February 27, 2018, it became known that the St. Petersburg City Court quashed this decision and sent the case for a new trial.

The lawyer of the Roskomsvoboda project Sarkis Darbinyan draws attention to the fact that the district prosecutor initiated the case against - and as it happens in such cases, the site administration only learned about the lawsuit when they were blacklisted by Roskomnadzor and the one-month appeal period had already expired. Therefore, the owners decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. They argue their position as follows: in the current legislation there is no prohibition on the dissemination of information about cryptocurrencies, electronic money and new technologies for mutual settlements, and the site did not offer any transactions between participants on its platform.

On February 16, the case was transferred to the judicial board for administrative cases of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. The hearing is scheduled for March 21, 2018 at 11:00 in the courtroom No. 5038. Production 78-KG17-101 .

In the meantime, the authorities are preparing a draft law “On Money Surrogates,” in which they will tighten the responsibility for the circulation of cryptocurrencies: “Yes, there will be (criminal liability - IF). The text of the bill, it is agreed, but so far I have slowed it down. It seems to me that there is a risk that innocent people will suffer, ” said Deputy Minister of Finance Alexey Moiseev during the Cryptomedia conference organized by Vnesheconombank. - The only means of calculation is the ruble. If you are calculated by something else, then you bear administrative responsibility, not very big. If you organized such a money substitute with a group within the criminal community that was deliberately aimed at replacing payments in rubles, even if it did not incur tax or other losses and was not recognized as fraud, then criminal liability is incurred. Just like the pyramids. "

Apparently, for unauthorized mining and trading without paying taxes, there is a maximum administrative liability (fine): “People who are mining bitcoins or trading are not going to be sent to jail,” explained Moses.

Meanwhile, on February 27, 2018, Germany exempted cryptocurrencies from taxation , equating them to fiat currencies as a means of payment.