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Cryptocurrency is Property in Russia

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The Russian Ministry of Justice has taken side in what looks like a lively debate about the status of cryptocurrencies that are still unregulated in the country. A bankruptcy case involving a modest amount of bitcoin has sparked discussions in Russian legal circles. Some say a crypto is nothing more than “a set of characters.” Others, including the justice minister, are categorical – cryptocurrency can’t be anything else but property.

Cryptocurrency falls under the legal category of “other property,” Russia’s Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov told reporters this week. With two draft laws on the matter still pending in the State Duma, he also noted that digital coins should not be considered electronic money, at least on this stage.

A bankruptcy case involving some bitcoin holdings has recently stirred the Russian legal community, which was challenged to provide a provisional answer to the question about the status of cryptocurrencies. In the absence of firm definitions in the current legislation, this question split Russian legal experts in two camps. On one side are those who think that cryptocurrencies have real value, on the other – their colleagues who believe they don’t, if the law doesn’t explicitly say so.

According to Konovalov, his department has adopted a “consolidated opinion” on the legal nature of cryptocurrencies and it supports the view that they should be defined as property. “If digital money is not property, its theft would not be considered criminal offense because there would be no object of the crime,” he warned.

“If cryptocurrencies are to develop, additional regulation will be necessary. The main point is to ensure that all this does not grow into financial pyramids,” Konovalov added, quoted by Prime. He is convinced that Russia should introduce rigid crypto regulations but also recognizes that the phenomenon is itself a “manifestation of the people’s desire to escape from total dependence.”

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