Russia Backpedals On Bitcoin – Unveils Plan To Ban Cryptocurrency Sales To “Ordinary People”

After local Russian media reported earlier this year that the Russian Parliament could legalize bitcoin as soon as 2018, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev this week signaled that authorities might instead seek to restrict its use. During an interview with Russia 24, a state-owned news channel, Moiseev said that Russian authorities should treat cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, as sophisticated financial assets and restrict their use and trading to qualified investors only.

Moiseev’s statement surprised members of Russia's digital currency community, who had been lead to believe that the Russian government was finally warming to digital currencies after years of skepticism. That belief was strengthened earlier this month when an aide to Vladimir Putin announced that he would seek to raise $100 million to build bitcoin mining infrastructure in Russia, with the goal of controlling as much as 30% of the bitcoin network’s hashpower.

“’Cryptocurrency should be regulated as a financial asset,’ Vedomosti reported him saying. ‘There is a point of view that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin is a financial pyramid. Investments [in] such are high-risk. This determines our approach to their regulation.’

 

RBC quoted him saying: "We propose to call it a currency, but regulate it as other property, qualify it as a financial asset and allow only qualified investors to buy and sell them on the exchange.

As a regulated financial security, Moiseev said cryptocurrencies would be sold through stock exchanges under the supervision of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation, also known as Rosfinmonitoring, according to Bitcoin Magazine.

Moiseev added that bitcoin is a "dangerous" investment, and that it's the government's duty to protect "ordinary people" from losing their shirts, according to CoinTelegraph.

“For ordinary people, there’s no way because these are very dangerous investments that could lead to loss of money.”

According to Moiseev, Russia’s ministry of finance is discussing how to proceed with the central bank and the Moscow stock exchange. Moiseev added that it is necessary for cryptocurrencies to sell through the exchange “to provide judicial protection to participants in transactions.”

Moiseev detailed that this approach to cryptocurrency regulation aims to protect the rights of buyers and sellers. “Now people do it at their own peril and risk, they have no judicial protection. This is our first task,” he was quoted by Vedomosti.

His comments then turned to the subject of money laundering.

“Citing Western Europe and Russia in particular, Ria Novosti quoted him saying “the use of cryptocurrency for illegal operations has become much more frequent because the mechanisms for combating money-laundering are not yet fully applied in all countries to cryptocurrencies.”

Finally, Moiseev said that the Russian government is uncomfortable with the anonymity provided by bitcoin.

“Moiseev also explained that it is necessary to sell bitcoins through the regulated stock exchange, so that the regulator will always know ‘who the seller is, who the buyer is, where these bitcoin accounts have moved.’”

What's worse for bitcoiners is that Russia might be at the vanguard of a shift in how authorities view bitcoin. The SEC late last month declared that digital currencies, including bitcoin and the tokens issued during ICOs, should be treated as securities under the law.

So far, the SEC's guidance has been vague. But the ease with which digital currencies could be used to finance illicit activities – regardless of whether they’re actually being used for that purpose – likely means that more government crackdowns are ahead. By requiring all local bitcoin exchanges to screen transactions for potential violations, China has found a way to pierce the anonymity surrounding digital-currency transactions.

Don’t think it can't happen in the US.

Battlefield America Is The New Normal: We’re Not In Mayberry Anymore

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

If we’re training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers?”— Arthur Rizer, former police officer

America, you’ve been fooled again.

While the nation has been distracted by a media maelstrom dominated by news of white supremacists, Powerball jackpots, Hurricane Harvey, and a Mayweather v. McGregor fight, the American Police State has been carving its own path of devastation and destruction through what’s left of the Constitution.

We got sucker punched.

First, Congress overwhelmingly passed—and President Trump approved—a law allowing warrantless searches of private property for the purpose of “making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing.”

For now, the scope of the law is geographically limited to property near the Washington DC Metro system, but mark my words, this is just a way of testing the waters. Under the pretext of ensuring public safety by “inspecting” property in the vicinity of anything that could be remotely classified as impacting public safety, the government could gain access to almost any private property in the country.

Then President Trump, aided and abetted by his trusty Department of Justice henchman Jeff Sessions and to the delight of the nation’s powerful police unions, rolled back restrictions on the government’s military recycling program.

What this means is that police agencies, only minimally deterred by the Obama administration’s cosmetic ban on certain types of military gear, can now go hog-wild.

We’re talking Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear, armored vehicles, and tanks.

Clearly, we’re not in Mayberry anymore.

Or if this is Mayberry, it’s Mayberry in The Twilight Zone.

As journalist Benjamin Carlson stresses, “In today’s Mayberry, Andy Griffith and Barney Fife could be using grenade launchers and a tank to keep the peace.”

Contrast the idyllic Mayberry with the American police state of today, where local police—clad in jackboots, helmets and shields and wielding batons, pepper-spray, stun guns, and assault rifles—have increasingly come to resemble occupying forces in communities across the country.

As Alyssa Rosenberg writes for The Washington Post, “[The Andy Griffith Show] expressed an ideal that has leached out of American pop culture and public policy, to dangerous effect: that the police were part of the communities that they served and shared their fellow citizens’ interests. They were of their towns and cities, not at war with them.”

That’s really what this is about: a war on the American citizenry waged by local law enforcement armed to the teeth with weapons previously only seen on the battlefield

As investigative journalists Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz reveal, “Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Thanks to Trump, this transformation of America into a battlefield is only going to get worse.

To be fair, Trump did not create this totalitarian nightmare. However, he has legitimized it and, in so doing, has also accelerated the pace at which we fall deeper into the clutches of outright tyranny.

In the hands of government agents, whether they are members of the military, law enforcement or some other government agency, these weapons of war have become accepted instruments of tyranny, routine parts of America’s day-to-day life, a byproduct of the rapid militarization of law enforcement over the past several decades.

It’s a modern-day Trojan Horse.

Although these federal programs that allow the military to “gift” battlefield-appropriate weapons, vehicles and equipment to domestic police departments at taxpayer expense are being sold to communities as a benefit, the real purpose is to keep the defense industry churning out profits, bring police departments in line with the military, and establish a standing army.

It’s a militarized approach to make-work programs, except in this case, instead of unnecessary busy work to keep people employed, communities across America are finding themselves “gifted” with unnecessary drones, tanks, grenade launchers and other military equipment better suited to the battlefield in order to fatten the bank accounts of the military industrial complex.

In addition to being an astounding waste of taxpayer money, this equipping of police with military-grade equipment and weapons also gives rise to a dangerous mindset in which police adopt a warrior-like, more aggressive approach to policing.

The results are deadly.

As a study by researchers at Stanford University makes clear, “When law enforcement receives more military materials — weapons, vehicles and tools — it becomes … more likely to jump into high-risk situations. Militarization makes every problem — even a car of teenagers driving away from a party — look like a nail that should be hit with an AR-15 hammer.”

The danger of giving police high-power toys and weapons is that they will feel compelled to use it in all kinds of situations that would never normally warrant battlefield gear, weapons or tactics.

Suffice it to say, change will not come easily.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the police unions are a powerful force and they will not relinquish their power easily. Connect the dots and you’ll find that most, if not all, attempts to cover up police misconduct or sidestep accountability can be traced back to police unions and the police lobby.

Just look at Trump: he’s been on the police unions’ payroll from the moment they endorsed him for president, and he’s paid them back generously by ensuring that police can kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens with impunity.

Still, the responsibility rests with “we the people.”

As author Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us:

The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.