Russia May Not Have Cryptocurrency Law before Autumn, Senior Official Says

The Russian government may postpone the adoption of cryptocurrency legislation until the autumn as lawmakers do not want to decide in haste on issues that may affect both the economic and technological development of the country.

The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s Federal Assembly, was supposed to pass legislation on cryptocurrency by June. However, lawmakers are likely to put this question aside until the autumn as they are dealing with an issue which requires more in-depth research and examination, Anatoliy Aksakov, chair of the Duma’s financial markets committee, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

"Cryptocurrency is a complex, really very complex subject. I am determined to pass the law by the time the spring session ends, but there are reasonable doubts, which is why I do not rule out the possibility of extending the discussion into the autumn," Aksakov explained.

The Russian finance ministry submitted the bill to the Duma in March with the aim of establishing a legal framework on digital financial assets and raising funds via investment platforms. Both market participants and industry players heavily criticized the bill, but the government has managed to settle a lot of issues and clarify critical definitions since that time.

Commenting on the challenges faced by lawmakers, Aksakov added:

"Blockchain is a cross-border phenomenon by its nature. Take Bitcoin, for instance: we can establish regulatory rules, but they won't work. That's why it is vital to understand our area of influence, to know the aspects that can be regulated, and then develop the legislative framework that will set the rules of the game and ensure adequate investor protection."

He also reiterated there were a lot of disputes about fundamental definitions. Thus, Russian legislators could not decide whether a cryptocurrency is a property or a property right. In May, Russian justice minister Alexander Konovalov declared that digital assets have a property status, but the matter is yet to be settled.

Aksakov believes that the laws on digital financial assets and crowdfunding platforms would be adopted together with rules on digital rights. The first bill defines digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and tokens and codifies a smart contract as a new type of legally binding contract. The second bill is supposed to regulate the procedure of raising money via investment platforms and introduces the notion of digital right.