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Russia Cryptocurrency 'Rights' Bill Passes State Duma




A bill defining (and to a lesser degree, regulating) cryptocurrency has passed the lower house of the Russian parliament. More cryptocurrency legislation is expected to follow.

The lower house of Russia's legislature, known as the State Duma, has passed a bill establishing legal definitions for a variety of blockchain-related terms and concepts, according to state-owned media outlet Tass.

While other legislation could permit expanded cryptocurrency-related activity in the future, this bill would allow only for one type of transaction: the use of cryptocurrency to purchase fiat currency.

The bill also states that cryptocurrency is generally not a legal "means of payment" in Russia, seemingly affirming a recent pronouncement from the Justice Minister, who said, "Cryptocurrency can be regarded not as electronic money, but as 'other property.'" (The language of the law does, however, leave room for its use as a payment instrument should future legislation establish a legal framework that recognizes it as such.) The bill also requires that transactions be conducted exclusively on compliant exchanges rather than over the counter, a provision that purportedly aims to protect virtual currency holders and curtail money laundering.

Described on the State Duma's website as a "digital rights" bill, the legislation would also create a legal basis for certain cryptocurrency-related activities, including some efforts to tokenize "material goods." The site also relates that future legislation will determine outstanding legal questions that remain unanswered with this bill's passage.

Among the concepts defined in the bill are cryptocurrency itself, smart contracts (aka EDCCs), DLT-based transactions, and writing data to a blockchain.

The bill was submitted on March 26 by State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin and the chairman of the State Duma Committee for State Construction and Legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov. For the sake of consistency throughout the Russian legal code, the legislation's text calls for several other laws to be amended upon its passage.

The bill was drafted in response to a 2017 directive from President Vladimir Putin in which he called on officials to prepare and pass legislation regulating the blockchain space.

Adam Reese

Adam Reese is a Los Angeles-based writer interested in technology, domestic and international politics, social issues, infrastructure and the arts. Adam holds value in Ether, Bitcoin, and Monero.

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