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(English) Russian Parliament Postpones Adoption of Digital Assets Bill

24 декабря 2018

(English) The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, has postponed the second reading of a long-awaited bill intended to regulate cryptocurrencies in the country. Lawmakers will review the draft law “On Digital Financial Assets” during the spring parliamentary session next year, the house deputy speaker Sergey Neverov announced.

Second Reading Scheduled for the Spring

The bill was adopted on first reading in May of this year, along with two other pieces of legislation aimed at regulating the crypto sector – a draft amending the Russian Civil Code to incorporate a definition of “digital rights” and another one introducing rules for crowdfunding platforms. The second reading of the legislative package was initially scheduled to take place during the fall session.

In the past months, Russian deputies made a number of changes meant to “synchronize” the texts. In the process, key terms such as “cryptocurrency,” “token,” “mining,” and “smart contract” were dropped, which triggered criticism from the country’s crypto community. Warning that many crypto companies may seek a better business climate elsewhere, industry organizations proposed an alternative bill that would grant cryptocurrencies a “special status.”

During the fall session of the Duma, the revised law “On Digital Financial Assets” was released for public discussions. Several Russian officials shared their expectations that it would be adopted by the end of this year.

Briefing Russian media this week, Sergey Neverov, who is also the leader of the United Russia party’s parliamentary group, noted that deputies believe digitization is a relevant matter. He added that the accelerated development of these technologies and solutions will allow Russia to be more competitive. Neverov did not explain, however, why if that is the case, the adoption of the legislation is being postponed. Quoted by Forklog and Regnum, he stated: «It is important for us to consider the bill ‘On Digital Financial Assets’ during the spring session. Its adoption is already overdue.»

Neverov’s comments followed a statement by Russia’s deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov who said authorities in Moscow did not plan to introduce any more significant amendments to the texts. Noting the recent crypto market slump, he defended the “careful” approach employed by Russian legislators towards the regulation of digital assets.

Central Bank of Russia to Block Websites

Lawmakers in the Duma are expected to review at least two other draft laws with potential implications for the crypto industry. Neverov revealed that after the Christmas holidays, Russian deputies will consider amendments that would allow the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) to initiate the blocking of websites. The bill is sponsored by the speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, and the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, Valentina Matviyenko.

The other draft was filed in the first week of December by a group of legislators from both houses led by the chairman of the Financial Markets Committee, Anatoly Aksakov. The law is designed to regulate the activities of electronic wallets and payment services providers that are based abroad, such as Alipay and Wechat, Bitnovosti reported. It introduces the legal term “foreign payment system” as well as new rules that will govern the operations of these platforms in the Russian Federation.

If deputies approve the bill, these providers will be required to establish an official representation in Russia and register with the CBR, which will take responsibility for oversight. Their operators will also be obliged to implement risk management systems, data protection mechanisms, and start using the Russian payment infrastructure.

What do you think of these regulatory developments in the Russian Federation? Let us know in the comments section below.

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