Bitcoin Adoption Grows in Russia; Head of Bank of Russia, Olga Skorobogatova, Says Bitcoin To Be Regulated, Not Banned

The future of digital currencies in Russia remained uncertain for most of 2016, but recent comments by the Olga Skorobogatova, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia, have shed some light on how Russian financial regulators feel about cryptocurrencies.

In an interview at the 2017 Gaidar Forum, Skorobogatova told the press that there are no plans to impose any bans on the usage of Bitcoin within the Russian Federation at the present time:
“As to Bitcoin, which is a private currency, it has became clear that things are not as simple and as it is written in books and magazines. The position of the regulatory agencies is that we would not like to specifically prohibit it, but we would like to first understand it, and then build a regulatory framework.”
Skorobogatova’s remarks are in sharp contrast to other Russian officials like Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev, who has made repeated attempts over the last two years to pass legislation that would impose stiff prison sentences on bitcoin users within Russia.

But despite the opposition from some regulators, bitcoin usage and popularity within the Russian Federation has grown substantially in 2016. More recently, St. Petersburg-based fitness chain, NanoFitness, began accepting the digital currency at several of their fitness studios in St. Petersburg and Tyumen.

Bitcoin sign posted at the door of NanoFitness

And in December, 2016, Russian presidential candidate and fierce Putin critic, Alexey Navalny, started accepting bitcoin donations - in addition to PayPal and Yandex.Money - for his campaign in the 2018 election. As of today, Navalny’s bitcoin donation address has received approximately 22.6 BTC ($18,758/1,117,976.8 Russian rubles) in donations.

Leonid Volkov, who heads Navalny's presidential campaign, said in a tweet that bitcoin donations represent 15% of all donations received so far.