At the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin. Putin also spoke about Russia’s economic reform and the digital economy, while the central bank discussed bitcoin’s taxation and its own digital currency.
St Petersburg International Economic Forum
An annual event held since 1997, SPIEF is attended by business and finance leaders in Russia and from all around the world. It is “dedicated to the discussion of key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets and the world in general,” states the official website of the President of Russia. The theme of this year’s forum, held from June 1 to June 3, is “In search of a new balance in the global economy.”
Buterin was a speaker in the session called “Blockchain – the birth of the new economy” and a panelist in the session called “The explosive impact of blockchain technology.” First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Central Bank Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova were also panelists in the same session.
Skorobogatova confirmed during the event that the central bank is developing its own digital currency while drafting a proposal to consider bitcoin a digital asset which will be taxed as such. She also recently announced a joint pilot project between the central bank and the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC) to use blockchain technology for financial services.
Also at the event was former Russian Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin. He told RT that he sees the use of bitcoin expanding in the coming years.
Putin’s Meeting with Buterin
According to the Russian President’s official website, Putin met with Buterin on June 2. “The conversation was held following the President’s meeting with heads of major foreign companies and business associations,” the website states, adding that:
Mr Buterin described the opportunities for using the technologies he developed in Russia. The President supported the idea of establishing ties with possible Russian partners.
Buterin confirmed the discussion on Reddit, stating that “it was a brief conversation at the end of a private CEO meeting.”
Russia’s Economic Reform Plan and Digital Economy
Putin said in a different SPIEF session that Russia’s future lies in developing the digital economy. However, he did not have any detailed or finalized plans for the country’s economic reform to share.
The development of advanced technology or “hi-tech” is being discussed within the EAEC, TASS reported. The First Deputy Prime Minister said at the aforementioned blockchain panel discussion that Putin “takes special interest” in hi-tech and the digital economy. Some local publications reported that the hi-tech Putin was referring to includes blockchain and Bitcoin. Shuvalov said:
At first, other state leaders viewed it with suspicion, but now they realize that this is the answer to all challenges and they just have to be bolder.
Citing Putin’s understanding that hi-tech and the digital economy spur growth rates, Shuvalov added, “It is not an overstatement to say that the president is passionately fond of it.”
Below is the video of the panel discussion with Buterin (in Russian).
What do you think of Putin’s meeting with Vitalik Buterin? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of The Russian Embassy, SPIEF, and Youtube
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