Tobolsk, a city in Western Russia, has officially “banned the import of equipment for the mining of cryptocurrency” as of last week, according to local media sources. The ban went into action when a local cryptocurrency miner attempted to import mining equipment.
“[The] resident of the city of Tobolsk purchased server equipment for his own needs from an online store,” reads an official statement from the Federal Customs Service of Russia. The citizen in question had declared the mining equipment as tools for “mathematical and scientific equations.” (Technically, this was not a lie.)
The trouble was that under the law, “measures of non-tariff regulation [of the Eurasian Economic Commission] are applied to this commodity.” In other words, trade barriers that lay outside of the legal realm of tariffs apply to mining equipment in Tobolsk.
Originally, the customs office informed the miner that in order to successfully import the equipment, he would have to “provide additional permits: information about the notification or the conclusion issued by the FSB [Federal Security Service] of Russia.”
The Court Ordered Additional Permits
The miner proceeded to take the Customs Office to Tobolsk city court, arguing that the primary purpose of the equipment was to solve equations, and the cryptocurrency was just an incidental byproduct. The court didn’t buy it.
“The citizen’s argument that the extraction of cryptocurrency is only a by-product of his scientific activity was not accepted by the court, since statutory restrictions on imports do not depend on those purposes that are declared by an individual at the time of importation,” said an official statement from the court.
Based on these grounds, “the court found lawful the decision of the Tobolsk customs post of the Tyumen customs office to refuse the import of the equipment for cryptocurrency mining.”
It’s not yet clear whether or not the Tobolsk regulations will apply across Russia. However, it is likely that the case can and will be used as a legal precedent in similar cases.