Vladimir Putin has unequivocally shot down the possibility of any official Russian cryptocurrency. The Russian president discussed his views on cryptocurrency during his 16th annual Direct Line speech where the Russian public is allowed to ask him questions.
Putin said an official Russian cryptocurrency was not possible since cryptocurrency inherently cannot be controlled by any centralized organization. There had been speculation earlier in 2018 that Russia was going to launch its own cryptocurrency, possibly to be named the CryptoRuble, since it would be the cryptocurrency version of the Russian ruble (RUB).
The Russian government has been giving mixed messages to the public about its own national cryptocurrency since 2015. Putin’s economic advisor, Sergei Glazyev, has said the CryptoRuble would help Russia circumvent Western sanctions. The head of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain, Arseniy Sheltsin, said the CryptoRuble would be launched sometime in 2019. With the Russian president now saying there won’t be a CryptoRuble, this would seem to override previous statements from those with less authority.
Putin further added during his Direct Line speech that people should treat cryptocurrency cautiously since it was not backed by anything, and that the Central Bank of the Russian Federation did not consider cryptocurrency a means of payment or a store of value.
Bitcoin proponents would argue the statement to be inaccurate, since Bitcoin has intrinsic value due to it being a decentralized and secure form of money that no government or organization controls. Also, Bitcoin has proven itself as an efficient, fast, and secure means of payment.
Putin, however, did say something somewhat positive regarding cryptocurrency in the speech, believing that Russia should keep an eye on cryptocurrency to see how the country could utilize it to its benefit. Specifically, he said Russia could use cryptocurrency to avoid restrictions in the field of international finance.
This could be construed as a hint of cryptocurrency considerations to circumvent Western sanctions, using existing ones such as Bitcoin. It would at least prevent a scenario of national cryptocurrency sanctions, such as what Venezuela experienced when the US completely banned the South American country’s official cryptocurrency, the Petromoneda.
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