Crypto Exchange OKX's Website Blocked in Russia; Reason Undisclosed

The website of OKX, a Seychelles-registered crypto exchange, was blocked in Russia, according to Roskomsvoboda, a local NGO monitoring online censorship.

Roskomsvoboda's registry of blacklisted websites says IP addresses were blocked due to the decision of the prosecutor general office № 73/3-105-2022. The decision was made on Oct. 4.

The reasons for this ban are unknown and no previous public comments related to OKX has been voiced by the agency. CoinDesk could not locate the original document. OKX did not respond to CoinDesk's request for comment by press time.

The ban also can be found in the official database of Roskomnadzor, Russia's internet censorship agency. OKX website was blocked according to the article 15.3 of the federal law On the Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information, according to Roskomnadzor registry. The article covers public calls for extremist activities and information about organizations banned in Russia.

Roskomnadzor and Roskomsvoboda's names are similar as the freedom of speech advocates mocked the censorship's agency brand by replacing "nadzor" (oversight in Russian) by "svoboda" (freedom).

According to Artem Kozlyuk, founder of Roskomsvoboda, says even the owners of blacklisted websites usually don't know why they have been blacklisted, so only by suing Roskomnadzor they can find out the reason. Website hosting services, which are obliged to block banned websites, also only know about the fact of blacklisting: the only information publicly shared is the number of a decision and the article of law, Kozlyuk told CoinDesk.

OKX, the third largest crypto exchange in the world by volume, according to CoinGecko, is not the first exchange to have been blocked in Russia. In June 2021, Binance website was blocked by a local court decision, which said "issuance and usage of bitcoins are fully decentralized, and there is no way to regulate it by the government, which contradicts the current Russian law."

However, Binance said the company never received any complaints from regulators. In January, 2021, the company successfully overturned the ban in court.

Russian government bodies and agencies have been scrambling to work out a universal approach to cryptocurrencies over the past few years. Crypto is recognized as a form or property by the law On the Digital Assets, but it can not be used for payments in Russia. Taxation rules are yet to be confirmed in a bill currently stuck in the Russian parliament.

The country's central bank, the Bank of Russia, has been consistently hostile to crypto, a stance which was reiterated in February. At the same time, the Ministry of Finance official Ivan Chebeskov told the Izvestia newspaper in October that some Russian companies are already using cryptocurrencies for trans-border payments, without naming any particular corporations.