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Russia declares bitcoin illegal and begins crackdown

Authorities in Russia have warned that the use of bitcoin in the nation is illegal and that it will crack down on those using the cryptocurrency.

The nation recently became the second-fastest growing territory for the currency, behind only the US.

Law enforcement agencies and the Russian central bank are working on new measures that will prevent "illegal acts in the sphere of money circulation in Russia and prevent the violation of property rights of citizens and legal persons associated with the use of 'cryptocurrencies'."

The general prosecutor's office added: "Anonymous payment systems and cryptocurrencies that have gained considerable circulation, including the most famous of them, bitcoin, are money substitutes and cannot be used by individuals and legal persons."

The announcement comes a month after the United Russia party submitted a package of draft laws to the nation's parliament, which included proposals to allow security services increased access to the data of internet users and limit the use of electronic payment systems.

By Claire Archer