Russian courts remain divided in the discussion of cryptocurrencies as property

Russian courts remain divided in the discussion on cryptocurrencies as proprietary assets - bitcoinRussian courts can't agree on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies - here the quotation - contino as property.

The recent divisive case

According to a post on Telegram from the press office of the courts of St. Petersburg, the district court sentenced two men for extorting money from a cryptocurrency trader on June 30th.

The criminals deceived the victim, pretending to be officers of the Russian counter-terrorism agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), the heir of the KGB. Petr Piron and Eugeny Prigozhin threatened to torture the victim, as well as lying about opening a criminal case against him, and forced her to pay them 5 million rubles (over USD 70.000) in cash and transfer 99,7 bitcoins and some DigiByte and BitShares tokens towards their digital wallets.

Bitcoins alone are worth over $ 900.000 at current prices. According to the court press release, the stolen money was returned to the victim. However, the court has not ruled that cryptocurrencies should also be transferred back.

The court website confirms the correctness of the ruling, although it does not provide the text. The press release stresses that, under the Russian Civil Code, cryptocurrencies do not have a legal status and therefore cannot be considered property for the purpose of a criminal proceeding.

The precedents and the new law

Attorney Mikhail Uspenskiy, an expert on crypto assets and deputy chief of the House of Tax Advisors in Russia, said the decision was nothing more than a mistake. He stressed that previously Russian courts recognized cryptography as a form of ownership.

Uspenskiy cited the case of Ilya Tsarkov, who filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and was forced to reveal his crypto properties so that they could be included in his properties for bankruptcy proceedings.

There have also been criminal cases where courts have treated crypto assets as a form of property. There is one case, for example, in which bitcoins were extorted during a blackmail, or another in which fake banknotes were exchanged for cryptocurrencies, Uspenskiy said.

The appellate court also stated that, under Russian law, cryptocurrency is not defined either as property, nor as an asset or a surrogate for money. But circumstances may soon change.

In June, a package of bills was introduced into the country's parliament, the State Duma, suggesting that cryptocurrencies should be treated as property. The bill that was presented, however, prohibits any cryptocurrency transactions performed using infrastructure based in Russia.

The latter was criticized by the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Justice of Russia, as well as by supporters of cryptocurrencies in the country. And what do you think of all this? We are following the updates day after day, but we would like to receive some of your comments below.