UPDATE | August 31, 2017: Vnesheconombank revised its original press release stating that it entered into an agreement with Ethereum Russia. The press release previously mistakenly suggested that the agreement was with the Ethereum Foundation. An article was published today on ETHNews to reflect the new information. The title and body of this article have been edited to reflect the revision.
On August 29, 2017, at a ceremony that took place during the "Blockchain: New Oil of Russia" conference, Russian state-sponsored development bank Vnesheconombank and Ethereum Russia, an entity not associated with the Ethereum Foundation in any official capacity, entered an agreement to develop a distributed registry and Ethereum platform, grow an expert Ethereum community, and implement training and educational programs at Vnesheconombank's Competence Center. The center is set to open in September 2017 at the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow.
Vitalik Buterin, who signed the agreement on behalf of Ethereum Russia, said, "Cooperation between Ethereum and VEB gives a unique opportunity to engage in research and development on the use of blockchain technology for public administration and accelerate the adaptation of this technology to government organizations in the Russian Federation."
The Russian government’s position on blockchains has gone back and forth. In some instances, government agencies have encouraged the development of the technology. However, occasional backslides have occurred, such as deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseev’s recent statements claiming that cryptocurrencies pose a risk to Russian consumers.
Vnesheconombank Chairman Sergei Gorkov doesn't appear to share Moiseev’s hesitancy, and instead is focused on realizing the benefits of blockchain technology:
"We unite the efforts of all interested parties and create the first Competence Center in Russia for state companies and authorities, forming an ecosystem of innovations. Their skills and achievements here will bring both Russian developers and world leaders in innovative breakthrough industries. We are pleased to supplement VEB's experience and expertise with the competence of Ethereum, the leading developer of block-based platforms.”