The website of LocalBitcoins, one of the largest peer-to-peer crypto exchanges in the world, has been blocked by Russian's telecom regulator, Roskomnadzor. According to UsefulTulips, over $7 million is traded on LocalBitcoins in Russia each week, and Russia is their largest market by far. While it's not entirely clear when the site was blocked, Russian traders seem to have been prepared for this ban since ads are still open on the platform and liquidity hasn't been impacted much by the censorship. Last month, Binance announced it too was blocked by the same telecom regulator after their domain URL appeared on an online register of platforms supposedly disseminating prohibited information. LocalBitcoins was already blacklisted on July 21, following an order of the Onezhsky City Court of the Arkhangelsk region, and today it appears to be fully blocked. Russia's relationship with cryptocurrencies is  both strict and complicated. The country accounts for over 20% of LocalBitcoin’s total volume and ranks #1 in terms of cryptocurrency trading across many P2P marketplaces, and it still remains legal to buy and hold Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but it's illegal to trade Bitcoin or use it as a method of payment—making it useless in practice. President Vladimir Putin has previously said crypto is a magnet for criminal activity and Russia's Central Bank has expressed skepticism towards all types of digital currencies, even developing one themselves. Last month, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs granted authority to police to seize any computer, hard drive and/or mobile device containing cryptocurrency assets, although its not clear how they plan to seize assets held on centralized exchanges like LocalBitcoins and Paxful, paper wallets, or prevent its users from using VPNs to sidestep regulation.

Decrypt (Oct 13)