Roskomsvoboda, a regional non-governmental organization that tracks online censorship revealed that the website of OKX, the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange globally registered in Seychelles, was blocked in Russia.
According to a scan of the exchange’s domain registration conducted by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s Internet Censorship Agency, the site was restricted in accordance with Article 15.3 of the Russian Law on Information, Information Technology, and Information Protection.
The article defends, among other things, the dissemination of false information, threats against financial institutions, and encouragement of extremist behavior. Nevertheless, the website restriction hasn’t yet been given a clear justification.
Okx.com is also mentioned in the Roskomsvoboda database of blacklisted domains. The institution, which is focused on monitoring online censorship, adopts a name similar to that of Russia’s censorship agency, but substitutes “svoboda” for “nadzor” (which means “oversight” in Russian).
The fight against Cryptocurrency in Russia
OKX is not the only exchange Russia has targeted; in June 2020, a local court also restricted Binance‘s website, as Gleb Kostarev, the regional head of Asia for Binance, initially revealed in a Facebook post.
At the time, Binance asserted that it had not been notified of the blacklisting until three months after it had been put into effect and that it had not received any complaints from the authorities.
The founder of Roskomsvoboda, Artem Kozlyuk, claims that, in most cases, even the owners of websites that have been banned are unaware of their status and can only learn why by suing Roskomnadzor.
The court argued at the time that “issuance and usage of bitcoins are entirely decentralized, and there is no method for the government to regulate it, which contradicts the current Russian law.” However, Binance was able to get the decision overturned by January 2021.
For a while, there was a disagreement between the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Russia about whether or not cryptocurrency should be outlawed entirely in the country.
They’ve been able to come to an agreement in recent months. On the one hand, a law prohibiting the use of cryptocurrencies as a form of payment was approved by the State Duma and President Vladimir Putin in July. On the other hand, the government of the country has stated that it is open to the use of cryptocurrencies in international trade, particularly as a way to get over Western sanctions.