January 22, 2021 - Russia has backed down from its decision to block the Binance crypto platform in the country, as per a January 20 court ruling.
According to local news reports, the cryptocurrency network is accessible again in Russia after the Arkhangelsk Regional Court's recent decision to annul a previous decision to blacklist the site in September 2020 .
In September 2020, the internet regulator Roskomnadzor, officially operating as the Federal Service for Supervision of Information Technology and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, had notified Binance that the primary exchange domain had been blacklisted within Russia.
One of the main reasons was that authorities considered the network dangerous and a potential platform for money laundering activities. Four months after being officially blacklisted, one of the most prominent cryptocurrency platforms in the world is back and free to be used by investors in the country.
Back then, Binance had announced that the blacklisting had appeared as a surprise, stating that it would seek legal counsel to engage on the matter. Now, four months after the court's decision, Binance has won the ruling as the Russian courts have overturned the blacklisting.
After the ban, the crypto exchange had announced that it would still maintain operations as usual, and Russian customers could still deposit and withdraw their assets.
Back then, the network also advised its clients to make use of the Binance mobile application. They could still manage their Virtual Private Network (VPN) to enter the website.
Mikhail Bautin, a partner in the law firm Digital Rights Center, who represented Binance in court, addressed that blocking and not notifying Binance of the start of the proceedings was "a gross procedural violation". Lawyers then had to reinstate the missed appeal deadline and only then file an appeal. Thus, Bautin specified, "the prosecutor's office was forced to abandon its claims."
The news outlet cited Mikhail Uspensky, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Chamber of Tax Advisers. He said he believes that "even with the entry into force of the new law on CFA, Binance does not violate anything, because, firstly, the law only speaks about operators of exchange of such entities as CFA, and cryptocurrency is not such an entity".
Uspensky also said that paying in cryptocurrency for goods and services on Russia's territory is prohibited by law. However, cryptocurrency is bought for rubles, or cryptocurrencies are exchanged among themselves", he added.
The head of operations for Binance in Russia, Gleb Kostarev, shared his satisfaction with the latest court ruling. Reportedly, he stated in an interview that he was glad that "Binance was able to challenge the blocking of the domain."
Despite the recent outcome of the cancelation of Binance's blacklisting, Russia still presents an uncertain environment for cryptocurrencies, just like many countries worldwide.
At the end of 2020, authorities and the Russian Ministry of Finance have come up with a package of bills on digital currencies. The bills were needed, "to implement the norms enshrined in the law on digital financial assets and digital currency adopted in the summer of 2020. They would also bring the regulation of such assets in line with the FATF recommendations. Compliance with these recommendations will reduce the number of transactions related to money laundering obtained by criminal means."
Russian authorities have also prepared amendments to a previous anti-money laundering law, according to which individuals and organisations who are subjects of this law will be obliged to provide information about any transactions with digital currencies to Rosfinmonitoring.
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