Over the past week or two, a story about Russia adding bitcoin to their foreign currency reserves has been reported in a variety of media outlets such as The Daily Telegraph, Fortune, and ZeroHedge. All of these stories cite Vladislav Ginko, who is an economics lecturer at the state-funded Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).
According to Ginko’s comments on Twitter and in interviews, he believes the Russian government will add $10 billion worth of bitcoin to its foreign currency reserves early this year. The move is said to be a reaction to sanctions imposed by the United States.
When this story was first reported, not many people paid attention or took it seriously, but things started to get interesting as more credible media outlets published articles around the story. Some people thought it was an elaborate hoax, while others have questioned Ginko’s credibility.
The Twitter Account Appears to Be Legitimate
In response to the likes of The Daily Telegraph reporting on this story, some skeptics shared their belief that the source of the news was a fake Twitter account that was not actually owned and operated by Ginko.
Looking at the Twitter account’s history, it appears authentic. For example, there is this tweet from 2012 where the author claimed to be a finance professor who works in New York and Moscow. Additionally, Archive.org’s Wayback Machine shows Ginko was in control of the account in 2014, when he was associated with a Russian financial news outlet.
Bitcoin to $100 or $2 Million?
To be fair to the skeptics, Ginko’s Twitter account is all over the place with bizarre claims being made left and right. For example, the account has recently retweeted a number of photo-including tweets from a local dentistry.
For someone who is supposedly trying to get the Russian government to stack bitcoin as part of their foreign currency reserves, Ginko was not very bullish on the bitcoin price in May of last year when he tweeted that it would dip below $100. By November, Ginko was predicting the price would go to $2 million in 2019.
More recently, Ginko has been tweeting conspiracy theories related to convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernie Madoff.
So, Will, It Happen?
So, what should everyone make of Ginko’s claims? Well, it is true that Russia has already shown signs of moving away from the US dollar in their foreign currency reserves, and when asked to comment on this topic by The Daily Telegraph, the Central Bank of Russia stated that it “publishes information on the foreign assets management with a six-month lag.”
Having said that, Elina Sidorenko, who runs a working group on the potential risks of cryptocurrencies for the State Duma, does not see any merit to Ginko’s claims.
“Under this statement there is no common sense, let alone ideas that would be considered in the power circles. Today, the Russian Federation, like any other country in the world, is simply not ready to somehow combine its traditional financial system with cryptocurrencies. And to say that this idea can be implemented in Russia is unlikely to be possible in the next 30 years,” Sidorenko told Russian cryptocurrency news outlet Forklog (translation via DeepL).
Combining Sidorenko’s comments with Ginko’s bizarre Twitter antics indicate there is not much credibility to the idea that Russia is about to buy a whole bunch of bitcoin to hold in reserve.
Note: While writing this article, the author realized he is blocked by Ginko on Twitter. It’s possible the block was in reaction to this tweet.
Update: The author of this article has been unblocked by Ginko on Twitter.