Last week, an annual forum featuring Russia’s top people from the economic sector was held in St. Petersburg, and cryptocurrencies were a hot topic there. Notably, government agents and state-controlled businesses were vocal about their interest in blockchain, but seemed to distance themselves from digital tokens.
Meanwhile, the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies is still missing in the country, despite the fact that local authorities have been tasked to prepare the needed amendment a while ago. So, where is Russia heading in terms of crypto and blockchain?
Brief introduction to Russia’s relationship with cryptocurrencies
Russia’s stance on cryptocurrencies has been mixed and fluid, as demonstrated by how the “CryptoRuble” — the national stablecoin project — has been unfolding. First, the prospect of using a substitute for conventional money was deemed "illegal" by financial ombudsman Pavel Medvedev. Then, the Kremlin supposedly decided that a pet stablecoin could “minimize the amount of anonymous transactions,” or even help evade Western sanctions, thereby greenlighting the project. However, the CryptoRuble ended up on the back burner in the end, as the current status of the project is unclear. It was last mentioned in the news in January 2019, when a government official declared that it could go live “in a 2-3 years,” although the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) was acting “very conservatively” about the idea.