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Bitcoin Will ‘Never’ Be Legal In Russia, According To Minister

A senior minister in Russia has said the country will “never” consider legalizing bitcoin and other digital currencies, in the latest pronouncement on the technology to emerge from the Russian state.

Nikolai Nikiforov, minister of communications and mass media, shut down the possibility of Russian authorities re-examining the legality of bitcoin, describing bitcoin as a “foreign project” to Russian law.

“Bitcoin is a foreign project for using blockchain technology, the Russian law will never consider bitcoin as a legal entity in the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.”

However, he suggested that while currencies remain off limits, Russia may consider blockchain technology, and even the development of alternative digital currencies in future. While there were no detailed plans for how the technology could be used, the remarks can be read as an endorsement of the broader tech, if not the specific use case of currencies like bitcoin.

The news comes as the latest in a series of remarks from senior politicians and bankers in Russia, adopting often contradictory points of view on bitcoin and blockchain technology.

As recently as last month, the minister released a research paper on the technical implementation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects, highlighting a demand for alternative speculative instruments like bitcoin.

“I think we should go ahead from the technological viewpoint, providing such instruments. It is hardly possible to get anything via restrictions amid digital economic development.”

This follows on from news in May that suggested Russian authorities could turn to blockchain regulation by as early as 2019, continuing an apparently incoherent approach to blockchain and digital currencies in Russia.

While generally regarded as holding negative views of bitcoin, there are increasingly frequent statements of support for blockchain technology, including Russian-issued digital currencies on distributed ledger technology.

In the last week, the Russian central bank noted that initial coin offerings could hold potential benefits for startups looking to raise capital, while suggestions the previous week pointed to the country’s tourism sector as a major beneficiary of these technologies.

While the latest statement seems clear enough, few could be certain this will remain the official position of the Russian state.

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