Putin’s annual “hotline” took place today in Russia – a live-streamed series of questions and answers that are generally thought to be carefully planned, but typically signpost issues that the government will raise in the coming months. It was perhaps no surprise then, given the upcoming regulations scheduled for July 1st this year, that the subject of cryptocurrency featured during the show. And the main news to come out of this brief section of the programme, was perhaps that Putin doesn’t believe that a state-backed crypto is a possibility.
When asked about cryptocurrency, Putin said [translated from Russian]:
This so-called “mining” is not regulated by us; we treat it very carefully. In most countries, cryptocurrency is not a means of settlement. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation believes that cryptocurrencies cannot be a means of payment, settlement or accumulation. These currencies are not secured by anything. Therefore, we must treat this with caution. In the world this phenomenon is developing, we must monitor this and understand how we can participate in this process.
When asked about the CryptoRuble – Russia’s potential state-backed cryptocurrency – Putin was also fairly negative. After widespread chatter that a pilot for the currency was scheduled for mid-2019, Putin seems to have distanced himself from this possibility – at least for the moment. He said that a state crypto would be “impossible”, as the very nature of crypto dictates that it is decentralized, and as such can’t be controlled or backed by an entity such as a government – it “goes beyond borders”.
During the wide-ranging programme, Putin also address US-Russian relations, the situation in Syria and domestic issues such as the potential blocking of social media in the country. The full four-hour video, in Russian, can be found here.