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It's too early to discuss legally recognizing bitcoin, a Russian central bank official said yesterday in an interview with state-run news agency TASS.

The comments from Maxim Grigoriev, head of the Bank of Russia's Center for Financial Technologies, came after a senior official with the Russian Ministry of Finance first floated the idea bitcoin could be considered for legal recognition sometime in 2018 during an interview with Bloomberg earlier this week.

That idea, as might be expected, struck some as a sharp turnaround for the Russian government, which as early as 2015 was weighing steep penalties for the creation and distribution of so-called money surrogates, a category which would have covered digital currencies. Government ministers later backed away from that position, as indicated by reports from last year.

According to TASS, Grigoriev confirmed that 2018 would see some kind of regulatory position emerge from Russia's government, though he reportedly cautioned that discussions were ongoing as to what that position might be.

Grigoriev said, according to a translation:

"We are communicating with the Ministry of Finance, Federal Financial Monitoring Service – as mentioned, we are going to 2018 to determine the position."

The government's push toward finalizing digital currency regulation comes as agencies in Russia are exploring applications of blockchain in the public sector.

In early March, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered two government ministries and a state-owned development bank to research possible uses.

Bank of Russia image via Shutterstock

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