Russia’s Supreme Court Orders Local Court To Review Crypto Website Ban

News, Regulation | April 23, 2018 By:

The St. Petersburg City Court has been ordered by the Russian Supreme Court to review an appeal involving a crypto-related website that was blocked in the country.

In 2016, the Vyborgsky District Court of St. Petersburg granted the application of the Prosecution Office and blocked the website, which has gained some popularity in the country. At the time, the court claimed that cryptocurrencies are “a means of virtual payment and accumulation,” and therefore, the provision of related information is illegal because it undermines the country’s sole legal currency – the ruble.

Nikolai Tonkoshkurov, the owner of the website, was not subpoenaed to attend the hearing. He was allegedly unaware of the court’s decision to block the site until access was cut off. The owner then attempted to appeal the ruling despite missing the window, but the St. Petersburg City Court chose not to review it. Tonkoshkurov then referred the case to the Supreme Court in Moscow.

The Supreme Court now obligates the St. Petersburg City Court to review the appeal against the blockade. The St. Petersburg City Court is the same court that reversed a similar decision last month. In that instance, the city court overturned a decision to block 40 websites containing information about cryptocurrencies.

Sarkis Darbinyan, Tonkoshkurov’s lawyer, said the St. Petersburg City Court can now determine the future of all crypto-related online editions. However, the lawyer said that he is disappointed that the Supreme Court refrained from ruling on the status of cryptocurrencies in general.

“Nevertheless, we think this is a very important decision,” Darbinyan said, noting the “systemic problem” with websites banned by prosecutors who don’t even inform their owners about the restrictions. Darbinyan added that this practice deprives entrepreneurs of proper legal protection. He also stressed that any such arbitrary decisions in the future should be considered invalid.

Last week, a Moscow court banned the popular messaging app Telegram, which has raised $1.7 billion in its pre-initial coin offering (ICO). The move created trouble for millions of companies and consumers, and was described by some as “carpet bombing” the Internet to get after one small company.