Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said that rather than regulating cryptocurrencies at the national level, member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) should implement a region-wide policy, according to a report by Russian state media outlet Tass. He made the remark on February 2 at the Digital Agenda in the Era of Globalization, a forum being held in Kazakhstan.
The EAEU's members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
Medvedev urged that "we should not be focused only on national policy … Let us pay serious attention to it as our economies are far too closely linked. It will be impossible to implement these principles in one country, we should bring our approaches closer together at the Union level."
Thus far, EAEU countries have been charting their own courses on virtual currency regulation. In December 2017, Belarus announced a policy on cryptocurrencies and ICOs that appears extremely lenient when compared to a draft of a bill on the same subject which Russia's Ministry of Finance published the following month.
In October 2017, President Vladimir Putin called for "the formation of a single payment space for the member states" of the EAEU, about a week after it was reported that he had decided Russia should issue its own fiat cryptocurrency, the cryptoruble. Then, in late December, it emerged that plans for the single state-issued digital asset had been scrapped.
At around the same time, the first deputy governor of Russia's central bank proposed a virtual currency that would be issued on behalf of all EAEU nations as well as the BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa.
It's unclear whether that plan still has support in the upper echelons of Russian leadership, now that a Russian parliamentarian has submitted a bill that would pave the way for the issuance of the cryptoruble.
It also emerged on February 2 that, in an interview conducted in late January 2018, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov dismissed the idea that digital assets, or at the very least, bitcoin, could be used to skirt sanctions.
"The US has already developed a way to monitor these transactions," he charged, adding that "it's the ruble that is more secure, not cryptocurrencies – this is because all transactions in rubles can be monitored exclusively by our central bank, and no one else."
He went on to opine that the "future belongs to the blockchain technology" and explained that the Russian government "will use it and, actually, we are already starting to apply it, while I see cryptocurrencies as simply speculative."