Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor blocked access to at least seven Bitcoin related websites Tuesday on the grounds that the currency “contributes to the growth of the shadow economy.”
ITAR Tass reported that Roskomnadzor claims the implementation of the ban follows a court order dating from September 2014, which read:
Introduction in Russia of other monetary units and production of money substitutes is prohibited. In such circumstances cryptocurrencies including ‘bitcoin’ are money substitutes, contribute to the growth of the shadow economy and can not be used by citizens and legal persons on the territory of the Russian Federation.
The list of sites known to be currently unavailable in Russia include bitcoin.org, indacoin.com, coinspot.ru, hasbitcoin.ru, bitcoinconf.ru, bitcoin.it and btcsec.com.
The move to block access to the sites comes despite a commitment from Georgy Luntovsky, the Bank of Russia’s first deputy chairman in 2014 who said that the Government would not block the use of Bitcoin.
Worse could be ahead for Bitcoin in Russia, with Crypto Currencies Foundation of Russia (CCFR) chairman Igor Chepkasov telling CoinDesk that the move is likely the start of a far larger crackdown on cryptocurrencies. “We can safely say that this is a dress rehearsal for the prohibition of Bitcoin in Russia” Chepkasov said.
It’s not clear just how big the Russian Bitcoin industry is, but there were reports in December that some Russians were moving into holding Bitcoin as the Ruble went through a period of extreme volatility.
The price of Bitcoin plunged 9 percent to $206.54 at the time of writing, as news of the crackdown and potential ban spread.
If you run a Bitcoin site or business and want to check if you’ve been affected by the ban in Russia, Roskomnadzor provides a service to check which sites are blacklisted here.