The Legislative Landscape of Cryptocurrencies in Belarus Prior to 2024

Belarus emerged as a progressive player in the blockchain and cryptocurrency domain prior to 2024. The country’s regulatory framework evolved significantly, reflecting its commitment to fostering a conducive environment for digital assets and blockchain technology.

In 2017, Belarus made a significant leap in cryptocurrency regulation with the passage of Decree No. 8 “On Digital Economy Development.” This was the country’s first official law to define the legal status of blockchain, tokens, mining, and smart contracts, marking a foundational step in the country’s approach to digital assets​​.

Further elaboration of these regulations occurred in November 2018 when the Supervisory Council of the Hi-Tech Park, which serves as both a tech hub and regulatory body for blockchain and cryptocurrency companies in Belarus, approved detailed documents on the regulation of token-related activities. This move underlined the Park’s role as the central authority for regulating all blockchain and cryptocurrency companies operating in Belarus, requiring them to become residents of the Park for legal operation​​.

A key area of these regulations focused on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). The new rules legalized token release and distribution for business funding purposes, defining the roles and responsibilities of ICO clients, ICO organizers, and investors. Only residents of the Hi-Tech Park were permitted to become ICO organizers, and the regulations included detailed requirements for application procedures for both domestic and foreign businesses​​.

The regulations encompassed various aspects of cryptocurrency operations:

Contract terms: They listed all permitted types of ICO services, including escrow, risk management, and marketing services, along with required contract provisions for protecting both parties’ interests​​.

Smart contract audit: This was a central mechanism to token release and distribution, ensuring the security, reliability, and risk-free performance of smart contracts​​.

Token advertising: Regulations focused on ensuring informative and transparent token advertisements, mandating each ad to be verified by the ICO organizer’s compliance officer​​.

Investor communications: These included white papers, token ownership agreement terms, and risk disclosures​​.

Cybersecurity standards: ICO organizers were required to provide services only to clients compliant with information security practices​​.

ICO organizers’ internal control: They were subject to stringent internal security and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) control checks​​.

Beyond ICOs, the regulations aimed to position Belarus as a global leader in blockchain and crypto legislation. They recognized the specific nature of blockchain-driven decentralization in cryptocurrency operations, setting an example for other countries​​.

The Belarusian government, with presidential approval, recognized Bitcoin as legal tender and legalized ICOs, smart contracts, and blockchain development. This move was part of a broader strategy to facilitate the growth of the digital economy and establish a favorable environment for cryptocurrency companies and investors​​.

In an environment akin to Crypto Valley in Switzerland, the Belarusian government aimed to create an ecosystem for blockchain projects and startups to operate freely within a regulatory framework conducive to ICOs and token sales​​.

Additionally, the government took a lenient approach to taxation, not taxing mining, cryptocurrency trading, and the sale of digital tokens, intending to encourage activities related to the creation, acquisition, and sale of digital tokens until the end of 2023​​.

In summary, prior to 2024, Belarus established a comprehensive and progressive legislative framework for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, focusing on security, transparency, and investor protection. This framework aimed not only to regulate but also to promote the growth of the digital economy, making Belarus a notable player in the global blockchain and cryptocurrency landscape.

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