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In a back flip worthy of a gold medal at an Olympic diving competition, the Russian Government has announced it may legalize bitcoin next year after previously trying to ban it.

The news of the potential move to legalize bitcoin came from Russian Deputy Finance Minister Aleksey Moiseev, who said that monitoring cryptocurrencies could be an instrumental tool against money laundering, and bitcoin and other digital currencies could be recognized as a way for the government to develop rules against illegal transfers.

“The state needs to know who at every moment of time stands on both sides of the financial chain,” Moiseev told Bloomberg. “If there’s a transaction, the people who facilitate it should understand from whom they bought and to whom they were selling, just like with bank operations.”

Bitcoin laws in Russia have previously resulted in confusion, with the country banning bitcoin sites in January 2015 before the decision was subsequently overturned later the same year. The Russian finance ministry called for an outright bitcoin ban in June 2016 with the exception of the cryptocurrency being legal to use in foreign currency transactions. In August, Russia saw the opening of its first physical bitcoin exchange in Moscow, which as we noted at the time opened despite the uncertainty about the legal status of bitcoin in the country.

Should Russia proceed with legalizing bitcoin, it will join a growing list of countries that have decided to embrace cryptocurrencies versus opposing them, with Japan having done so earlier this month, a move that led to both a boost in the price of bitcoin and plans that could see bitcoin accepted at hundreds of thousands of retail outlets.

Russia legalizing bitcoin for the purposes of being able to track transactions is a different proposition, with NewsBTC noting that “the government’s vision to monitor all transactions and parties to these transactions seems a bit overreaching” before adding that likewise with modern blockchain tools it’s not impossible either.

Photo: Vladimir Rodionov/Wikimedia Commons.

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