Cryptocurrency has its place in the world and Russia should carefully consider when and how to take part in the process of its development, Vladimir Putin said in his annual Q&A session with Russian citizens. The president noted that “by definition” neither Russia, nor any other country could have a national cryptocurrency. Putin also mentioned the saga around Telegram, in the light of seeking “civilized” decisions.
Cows and Cryptocurrencies
From potholes to spaceports, the Direct Line with Vladimir Putin usually covers it all. It is hard to imagine there is absolutely no preparation or plot behind the scenes, but one has to admit – four hours of questions can be a grueling challenge for anyone’s concentration and intellectual power.
Putin sounds adequate on just about any topic, and almost all the time. Well, this year he was unprepared to answer at least one question: “Why is cow meat called ‘beef’?” To his credit, the deputy prime minister for agriculture, Alexey Gordeyev, didn’t know the answer either…
This year’s program aired in a redesigned format, touched a bit here and there. And, as with any “rationalization” in a former Soviet, Slavic country, the change was met with a proper dose of criticism.
As a new feature of the 2018 “Direct Line” – bloggers and vloggers were allowed to ask questions on behalf of their followers. This is how cryptocurrency came into the spotlight, and this time the president was abreast of developments.
No National Crypto, ‘by Definition’
Vlogger Artiom Khokholikov tested Putin with a couple of questions that “all youngsters are interested in” – will Russia have its own cryptocurrency, and if, will it be controlled by the state? Also – does the president think that in the near future cryptocurrency will replace completely the standard fiat money?
Starting with the cryptoruble topic, Putin remarked the question was somewhat incorrect. Neither Russia, nor any other country can have their own crypto, “by definition,” he educated the nation. “If we talk about cryptocurrency – this is something that goes beyond national borders,” explained the president.
Ticking another box, Putin mentioned the “so called mining,” which, as he pointed out, is not regulated in Russia. The situation, however, will change soon with the adoption of the new legislation currently under review in the Duma. Then he emphasized authorities in Moscow have a very “accurate” attitude towards the whole crypto subject.
Russia Should Consider its Participation
Of course, the omnipresent talking points of central power were to be expected from the strongman of a strong state. “In the overwhelming majority of countries cryptocurrency is not a means of account. It is partially used in Japan, but in other countries it doesn’t work,” Vladimir Putin said.
The president went on to remind of the official position of Russia’s Central Bank that cryptocurrencies cannot be a means of payment or saving, and that digital money is not backed by anything. That means, he stressed, that “We have to treat this very accurately and carefully.”
“Nevertheless”, Putin changed the tone, “such phenomenon has its place in the world, it is developing! We have to carefully analyze, watch what’s going on, and see at what stage and how we can participate in this process and use it, including by the way, to avoid any restrictions in the sphere of international financial activity.”
Putin Suggests ‘Civilized’ Approach to Telegram
The Russian head of state touched another topic that concerns the crypto community – the fate of the messaging service Telegram. Prohibition is the easiest way to go, he noted, but also suggested that it’s necessary to seek civilized ways to solve the problem.
Russian authorities have been trying to block the messenger since April 16, following a decision by the Tagansky District Court of Moscow from April 13. So far, their attempts have been unsuccessful and Telegram has managed to circumvent the imposed restrictions.
Russian special services claim the app has been used by terrorists and have requested its encryption keys. However, the company founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov has refused to hand them over.
According to Russian media, many members of the local Telegram community have interpreted Putin’s comments as a signal to the country’s telecom regulator, Roskomnadzor, and the Federal Security Service, FSB, to ease the pressure on the messenger.