As Russia has kicked off the presidential campaign trail on December 18, it is interesting to look at some candidate’s promises. Notably, business ombudsman Boris Titov, who announced his participation in the election in late November, claimed to legalize Bitcoin in case of the win. He has been endorsing cryptocurrency even before his plans to participate in Russian election, but will he truly fulfill the promise?
Bitcoin advocate or opportunist: who is Boris Titov?
56-year old Titov, who represents a business-focused Party of Growth, is known for the alliance with current Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as for his advocacy for cryptocurrencies in Russia.
“Unlike the opposition candidate Ksenia Sobchak, Titov is a political heavyweight and will inject a measure of reality into an election that could have otherwise been a piece of political theatre. Although Titov is part of the Kremlin establishment and friends with president Vladimir Putin he is also an economic liberal and heads up the president’s efforts to fight corruption,” the Moscow Times described him.
This year March Titov emphasized that cryptocurrencies in Russia need to be legalized and allowed to exchange them for rubles. In his opinion, this would attract additional investment. Such a statement was made by Titov during the presentation of the socio-economic development program until 2025, the "Growth Strategy", prepared by the Stolypin Institute for the Economy of Growth).
"Cryptocurrencies allow, bypassing sanctions and any institutions, to attract investments for the Russian economy," he said as Lenta.ru reports.
Better future for Bitcoin in Russia if Titov wins?
Titov has been endorsing cryptocurrencies, saying Russia should follow Japan’s example. The Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights, who Titov is, this year September claimed that Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies should be subject to the same rules of regulation as to foreign currency.
“Any citizen should have the right to have crypto-currencies. And exchange for any other currency, including the ruble," he said, adding “but entering the domestic market [by Bitcoin] should be equated to foreign currencies. [The right] to pay cryptocurrencies for goods and services as a means of payment in the domestic market – we believe that this should not happen at least on the first stage,” as KP.ru quoted Titov.
Journalists asked Titov whether there were any risks of digital coins to increase tax evasion and the grey economy in case of Bitcoin legalization. But Titov ensured that blockchain, on the contrary, can provide the opportunity to track transactions. Therefore, there is a low risk of criminals to use cryptocurrency market to their benefit.
How Titov’s advocacy for Bitcoin turned into meme
In July business ombudsman Titov visited an excursion to the Saratov Electrical Appliance Plant. During the meeting with its workers, employees and management of the enterprise showed Titov new developments of microprocessors, when he asked about the possibility of issuing a virtual currency at the plant, reports Free News-Volga. Such a question was quickly derided by social media. Users suggested though Titov had been advocating for cryptocurrencies, he never knew how they should be issued or mined.
“Red light” for National Cryptocurrency – Cryptoruble
Earlier Russian Minister of Communications and Mass Media Nikolai Nikiforov claimed that the country would issue its cryptocurrency, named cryptoruble. According to his words, this was the initiative of Vladimir Putin.
"I confidently declare that we will launch a cryptoruble for one simple reason: if we do not, then in two months our neighbors in the EurAsEC will do it," Nikiforov said.
However, it seems that Titov is not looking forward to creating a cryptoruble. Several media reported that once Titov’s team was considering the creation of a national digital coin, but they later gave up on this idea. The reason was that the team realized the national cryptocurrency was not necessary but the regulation of the already existing cryptocurrencies.
Facing the competition from Putin, who recently announced he would run for the fourth term, Titov openly stated that Putin has more chances than he has to win the elections.
"It is clear that with the support that is available, Vladimir Putin has absolute chances, our task is to make the economic policy of the state more efficient, and elections are a chance to influence it,” said Titov.
It is curiously enough whether Titov will continue his fight for Bitcoin legalization even if he loses the race. Or maybe he currently uses Bitcoin hype to get ratings?