On Friday, July 24, another case about blocking cryptocurrency sites in Russia surfaced. The decision to block seven sites back in January was made by the Kotlas city court in the Arkhangelsk region.
Today the owners of the sites bitok.shop, lavka-flowers.ru, cryptorussia.ru, prostocoin.com, cryptowikipedia.ru, bestchange.ru and coinpost.ru received notifications that they “distribute information prohibited in the Russian Federation” and will be included in Roskomnadzor blocking register . At the time of publication, the above domain names are not in the registry.
For at least three sites on the list, this block is far from the first. For example, the monitoring of Bestchange exchangers has already been blocked twice; subsequently, the bans were lifted as having no legal basis. But not all owners of blocked resources are ready to go to court and challenge even unlawful decisions.
A Bestchange representative told Bits.media how they found out about the new blocking and further actions of the resource administration:
Unfortunately, as before, we find out about the existence of such claims by chance. Neither the prosecutor’s office nor the courts try to contact the site owners in advance, they do not summon them to court. Owners receive a notification of blocking about a day in the form of a notification from the RKN. Today we see this as the main problem of imperfect application of legislation.
First of all, of course, we contacted the lawyers who work with us on similar issues. After the first blocking, we are always ready and have a plan of action. The site mirror (BestChange.net) always works and is located on a different IP so that the blocking of the main domain does not affect it. Learned from bitter experience, we are preparing some changes in our advertising campaigns in advance. There are also a number of technical things that we prefer not to talk about.
Of course, we have a negative attitude towards everything like that. Not only have operations with cryptocurrencies on the territory of the Russian Federation never been prohibited, we have never performed any operations on our own. We are only an information resource, in fact, just a directory of sites. But prosecutors do not want to go into details, it is more important for them to fulfill the plan. We are forced to spend our time and money on lawyers and the court – to restore the deadlines for filing claims, wait for the prosecutor’s office to refuse a second claim, respond to hundreds of requests from users why they cannot get to monitoring, contact a dozen providers throughout Russia, who forget to unblock, reconfigure advertising campaigns. And all this happens without any legitimate reason.
We are shudderingly awaiting the adoption of the new draft law on CFA in the new year. The most negative aspect of this law for our entire industry is the ban on advertising of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. Unfortunately, a lot of information on cryptocurrency websites can be perceived ambiguously and interpreted as convenient for the prosecutor’s office. Now they will have new, already legitimate reasons for abuse. We are afraid that the worst is yet to come.
The case in the Kotlas City Court was opened in December last year, and the decision was made on January 22, 2020. Thus, the case came to execution only six months later, when all the time limits for the appeal had already expired. As usually happened in all such cases, the site owners learned about the court only after the execution of the blocking decision.
If you read the conclusion of the Kotlassky court, it becomes obvious that it is actually a copy of a similar decision of the Nyandomsky District Court, also from the Arkhangelsk Region. However, the Nyandoma court ruled on February 4, 2020, so the primary copyright for this curious text is still in question.
Of course, this blocking is not related to the draft law on CFA and digital currencies, adopted by the State Duma in the third reading this week and coming into force on January 1, 2021. However, next year, city and district courts in all parts of Russia will receive new grounds for blocking cryptocurrency sites, although the bill itself provides only a ban on the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, but defines them as property.