Bitcoin flirting with a Russian accent belies Confidence

In spite of the gloom descending over Russia regarding Bitcoin, it would seem not everyone shares the government’s opinion.

While the Duma recently moved to impose tough restrictions on private electronic money transfers and ban “surrogate currencies”, Russia Today recently published two articles which were considerably more positive.

Inexplicable U-Turn?

From its critical tone earlier this year, broadcasting the Russian Central Bank’s warnings about using cryptocurrencies, as of April 24 the service now carries an interview with ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Roger Ver under the headline “‘Bitcoin better than any form of money that has ever existed before’”.

This followed an article from the previous day which led with “Bitcoin ‘cheaper and safer’ alternative to fiat money”. There has also been movement towards coverage of Bitcoin’s development, such as the BitSat project, whose press release was cheerfully quoted without a hint of criticism.

Contrast this with an article from January and an underlying progression becomes obvious: “Cryptocurrencies appeal to those skeptical of their government’s influence over currency, as well as Internet users looking for an invisibility cloak,” it is written bluntly below an image of shadowed bitcoins looming against a murky background.

What could be the cause behind this change of tack? The answer could well lie in one of the articles themselves. In response to a question regarding the Central Bank’s critical stance despite Bitcoin not being illegal in Russia, Ver said, “I don’t have a direct insight into what goes on inside of Russia, but one guy at the conference just a moment ago when I asked that same question, he said nobody cares”.

If the legislation passed recently does result in having an effect which is more rhetorical than legally binding, it could allow the situation with the general populace reveal itself. As Ver continues in the interview, “at the end of the day nobody can block or stop or prevent anyone using Bitcoin if they want to, it’s just a protocol and it just works.”

“Disrupting the political status quo”

Certainly, figures from popular media channels belie a swarm of Russian language activity in the Bitcoin space, with Bitcointalk showing 216280 forum posts from the community as of April 30, placing it second only to English and well above the third most popular language, German (150340 posts). “I can tell you that Russia is the number one source of traffic to Blockchain.info, the number one Bitcoin website in the world,” Roger Ver additionally told the Cointelegraph.