On the final day of June, a criminal court in Russia issued a decision that questions the definition and legal status of cryptocurrencies in that country. The case in question involved the theft of 100 Bitcoin tokens, but the victim was ultimately not entitled to restitution because the court did not consider BTC to be actual property.

Given the currency exchange value of BTC at the time the larcenous offense was committed, it would certainly be considered a felony crime; nonetheless, the court was at a loss when it came to certifying the "real world" status of Bitcoin.

What is troublesome about this court ruling is that the Russian Supreme Court has previously issued an opinion about Bitcoin's status as an investment asset, but not necessarily one with legal status. Further complicating the matter is that the Russian central bank has already implemented an Ethereum blockchain to issue a digital version of the ruble, although this was mostly done as a test with the support of Russian-Canadian developer Vitalik Buterin.

Details of this criminal case are a bit murky as well. What is clear is that it involved two men who forged the identities of Federal Security Service agents to kidnap a man and coerce him into surrendering $90,000 plus 100 BTC. Thankfully, real FSB agents investigated the case and were able to nab the impostors, who have already been sentenced to seven years in prison.

The court had no problem with ordering restitution of the $90,000 as long as the repayment is made in rubles. When it came to issue a decision on the 100 BTC, the court was at a loss. Where things get complicated is that Russia is leaning towards handling digital currencies in the same manner as China, which means outlawing them until the digital ruble enters circulation.

Fortunately, the court's decision does not set full precedent because Russia operates a Roman legal system, but its impact could be confusing for the wider cryptocurrency community since potential thieves may not need to worry about coughing up stolen BTC. Needless to say, legal analysts believe that the case could advance to appellate court.