Russian Duma to commission study on cryptocurrencies

By Andrei Skvarsky.

Russia’s lower house of parliament has announced competitive tendering for a study on cryptocurrencies that would underlie future legislation on digital money.

The State Duma wants a research piece that would, among other things, explore the cryptocurrency market and scrutinise blockchain technology, according to Russian media group RBC, the EM corporate communications agency and other media outlets.

The study is also expected to suggest ways of using initial coin offerings (ICOs) – means of fundraising for new cryptocurrency ventures – as investment opportunities, and to warn about possible risks carried by digital money.

The Duma offers a fee of up to 2.49m roubles ($43,000) for the study, RBC said.

Russia has been following a tortuous path in trying to embrace the cryptocurrency concept. A while ago, the government thought of outlawing cryptocurrencies, claiming they could be a safe channel for money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

This idea has since been dropped, but the Russian government still has mixed feelings about cryptocurrencies.

At a media event a few days after the news about the Duma cryptocurrency study project, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev practically ruled out the possibility of cryptocurrencies being used by Russian companies any time soon.

He pointed out that the law prohibits any currency other than the rouble from being used in transactions within Russia.

He made disparaging and sarcastic statements about crypto money – “I won’t say here what I think of it” was one of them.

However, RBC cited a Russian government official as saying First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who heads the government commission on blockchains, had suggested introducing a “crypto rouble”.

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