Bitcoin Enthusiast Intends to Enter Russian Parliament to Defend Technological Innovations

Opinion
13.04.2016

Bitcoin enthusiast Alexei Bragin, earlier engaged in ReactOS and tutoring at Moscow State Technical University, decided to enter Russian parliament to defend “the interests of science and small businesses”.

With the recent news on possible ban of cryptocurrency in Russia, the initiative may become a positive precedent for the country’s entire bitcoin community. ForkLog contacted Alexei to find out more about his political platform and opinion.

FL: What is your connection to Bitcoin community?

Alexei Bragin: In 2011, I was actively interested in Bitcoin, its underlying technologies and working principles. My interest was purely scientific. However, as I studied the technologies, the community and the emerging economy, I realized that bitcoin’s exchange rate is too volatile, and it limits its usage as means of payment.

I started thinking about how to solve it. In fiat world it’s very easy with futures and options traded at the world’s biggest exchanges. However, no existing exchange was willing to launch such pairs at the time. Opening a new one would require an expensive license, enormous charter capital, and, most importantly, consent from banks to work with a bitcoin company.

That’s how I came up with my startup, ICBIT Trading Inc., the first futures exchange trading a specific kind of contracts I have personally developed. The startup was successful, with serious media coverage. CNN, Bloomberg, Forbes and others wrote about it.

FL: How’s the project doing now?

Alexei Bragin:  I left the project, though continued working there part-time. Two months ago, out of the blue, CTFC notified the company it possibly violated US laws by providing services to American citizens. The company’s owners decided litigation was too expensive, so they closed the company.

FL: This summer, Russia will most likely pass the bill banning issuance and usage of cryptocurrency. What do you think about it?

Alexei Bragin: My attitude is extremely negative. I sincerely cannot understand why they try to ban it. If we look back in history, the first significant reaction in Russia, at least, on major organizations’ side, was a letter from the Central Bank. It was pretty fair, I believe: be cautious, there’s AML, there’s terrorism financing, etc. Another great achievement is Putin’s statement that cryptocurrencies and blockchain have to be studied. It inspired me to prepare several reports on bitcoin since 2012.

FL: In case you do enter the parliament, would you try to overcome the situation? Is it possible to lobby bitcoin in Russia, and is it altogether necessary?

Alexei Bragin: Complete ban of cryptocurrency is a losing position by default. One cannot ban a decentralized cryptocurrency, one may only place some obstacles on its way. In that case, however, Russia would lose significant profits. Companies will just avoid registering in Russia, they won’t pay taxes, and developers will go working abroad.

This certainly has nothing to do with the concept of creating an international financial center in Russia, which had been conceived in distant 2009. I may give a simple analogy. Here are two completely justified statements: 90% of dollar bills in the USA have remainders of cocaine, while ISIS terrorists drive Toyotas. Following the legislators’ logic, Russia should ban all USD transactions alongside with Toyotas. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Attempts to ban bitcoin sound as ridiculous to me. So my purpose is not only to cancel bitcoin ban (should it pass), but also to legalize bitcoin in Russia. Legalization means application of all measures to make usage of cryptocurrency (along with other commodities and monies) for terrorism, corruption and other crimes impossible. That’s what they should put their efforts to, and the earlier, the better.

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