The court trial in a case where two Russian nationals extorted more than 55 million rubles (nearly $1 million) in digital assets and 5 million rubles (almost $90,000) in cash from a man has resulted in a passive acceptance of crypto as a means of payment. The St. Petersburg City Court has acknowledged cryptocurrencies as a form of payment, according to the Russian business news site RBC. However, while prosecutors often consult court judgments first when defending a client or the state, the Moscow government has yet to decide on Bitcoin’s legal status.

One of the criminals, Pyotr Piron, was introduced to the victim, G.A. Shemet. He identified himself as a member of the Federal Security Service (FSB), and threatened him with legal consequences if he did not comply with his extortion demands. He sought fiat and digital currencies as well as cash.

G.A. refused to give Pyotr any money since he didn’t think he was a federal official. However, according to his comments to the police, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs employee, tagged along with Pyotr. They informed G.A. that an inquiry into the suspected unlawful circulation of cryptocurrencies would be launched.

Russia to View Bitcoin as a Foreign Currency

This isn’t the first time these two have been caught up in a similar situation. The pair extorted money from a man in 2018 by threatening to torture him if he didn’t pay up. The crypto involved in this criminal prosecution was not considered, and it was even said that it is not a method of payment within the territory of the Russian Federation.

After an appeal, the other court ruled that cryptocurrency may be used as a form of payment and remanded the matter to the first court. However, the municipal court issued a new decision, adding the digital currency to the respondents’ jail sentences without modifying their sentences.

After a district judge in St. Petersburg allowed enforcement authorities to recover stolen cryptocurrencies in another criminal case last month, the situation has improved. Prosecutors were given orders to search and confiscate a suspect’s two dozen cryptocurrency wallets, including 1 billion rubles in Ethereum.


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