Despite a surge of interest in how Russia might use cryptocurrencies to sidestep sanctions, Russia's central bank once again called for the country to ban cryptocurrencies.
The bank said that its position on cryptocurrencies — which it views as risky and similar to a pyramid scheme that could undermine ordinary Russians' financial wellbeing — remains unchanged.
“The Central Bank currently supports the position that was previously announced and published on the official website. There is nothing to add today,” said Maria Telegina, head of an expert group from the Bank of Russia's Department of Financial Technologies, during a presentation on blockchain technology and the regulation of digital financial assets last week.
The Central Bank of Russia recommended a ban on trading, mining, and paying for goods and services with cryptocurrencies in January.
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According to government figures, it is estimated that Russian citizens' crypto holdings stand at approximately 2 trillion rubles, or nearly $26 billion.
Currently, Moscow prohibits crypto as a payment method, but is working on a legal framework for regulating cryptocurrencies. The government is reviewing Russia's draft law “On Digital Currency” submitted by the Ministry of Finance.
Russia's Treasury department, along with its federal government, takes a different view on cryptocurrency from the Central Bank of Russia, believing it should be legalized with more stringent rules. President Vladimir Putin has previously asked Bank of Russia head Elvira Nabiullina, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko to find a compromise.
On social media, Russians have been lamenting the depreciating value of the Russian ruble. In recent days, the stablecoin-to-ruble trading volume on Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange by trading volume, soared to an average all-time high of $35.8 million. Previously, before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the trading volume stood at just $11 million.