Russia is considering legislation that would send bitcoin users to jail for up to 7 years

Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t seem to be a fan of bitcoin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t seem to be a fan of bitcoin.
Image: Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev
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Are you an avid bitcoin user in Russia? If so, you could end up in jail.

The Russian Finance Ministry is preparing to introduce legislation next month that would fine and jail digital currency users, according to Bloomberg. The legislation, which was amended last month, has multiple tiers of penalties depending on the person’s usage, according to Interfax, a Russian news agency. For regular citizens who casually use bitcoin, the penalty is 500,000 rubles ($7,800 USD) or 4 years in jail; for organized groups, like bitcoin miners who confirm transactions on the network, it’s 1 million rubles ($15,500 USD) or 6 years in prison; executives or managers of financial institutions would face a fine of up to 2.5 million ruble ($38,000 USD) or up to 7 years in jail.

Russia wouldn’t be the first country to go after bitcoin users—Iceland, Ecuador, and Vietnam have each banned the currency in some way.

Digital currencies like bitcoin boast properties that spook central banks and regulators. Cryptocurrencies allow for anonymous transactions, which could be used for the trading of illicit goods and services. “Bitcoin can be used to finance the shadow economy and crimes, and this risk we cannot allow in Russia’s financial system, which we are striving to make transparent and healthy,” the Russian central bank’s press division told Bloomberg.

The Russian central bank did not respond to Quartz’s request for comment.