Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said at the Russian government’s annual report presentation on Thursday that Russians own more than 10 trillion rubles ($130 billion) in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). The prime minister did not say where this statistic came from. It is based on “different assessments,” adding: “We are fully aware that over 10 million young people have established cryptocurrency wallets and moved considerable sums of money totaling more than 10 trillion rubles.”
If accurate, Mishustin’s current estimates of Russian crypto holdings are very near to Russia’s gold stockpile, which was estimated to be worth $140 billion as of late March 2022. According to White House estimates, Russia’s gold reserves account for around 20% of the country’s overall reserves.
Where is Russian Investment Going?
Russians are rapidly investing in cryptocurrencies; however, the Russian government has been hesitant to develop clear laws to control the business; different government entities disagree on how to oversee it. After modifying the text in response to comments from other ministries and authorities, the Russian finance ministry submitted a new version of the Russian crypto law to the government on Friday.
As previously noted, the Russian central bank has been a vocal opponent of cryptocurrency; Bank of Russia governor Elvira Nabiullina pressed the government to outlaw Bitcoin earlier this year.
A developing narrative of Russia’s capacity to utilize crypto to defy sanctions has alarmed many global policymakers; Russia is the world’s most sanctioned country. The European Union Council approved Russia’s fifth round of sanctions on Friday; these include a ban on providing “high-value crypto-asset services to Russia.”
Ksenia Yudaeva, the Bank of Russia’s first deputy governor, stated that sanction evasion with cryptocurrency in Russia is practically impossible; according to her, it is especially impossible for major transactions. According to reports, the central bank earlier stated that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are “really a financial pyramid scam.”