[Russian PM Gives Green Light To Bitcoin Research]

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has today given the green light to a new research project, set up to explore potential public-sector uses for blockchain technology.

He has tasked two separate government agencies with the initiative, the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Economic Development, working in partnership with the state-owned Russian Development Bank.

Analysts are interpreting the move as a further sign of interest in the blockchain from the Russian government, which has recently consistently painted the technology in a positive light, and another positive outcome in the development of this potentially revolutionary technology.

The project comes just days after Medvedev publicly signalled the importance he attaches to the blockchain. While cautious in his support for the technology, he indicated last week that the blockchain has significant potential for government and business alike.

The project will investigate how the blockchain can be used in public administration and developing sectors of the Russian economy, in a bid to bring Russian blockchain development into line with other pioneering projects worldwide.

According to a transcription from a statement delivered by the prime minister, the project was about laying the groundwork for a new Russian digital economy for the years to come.

“I gave instructions to relevant ministries — the Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Economic Development — to consider the application of these technologies in the preparation of the program ‘Digital Economy’.”

The move puts the Russian government into step with private banks and the technology sector, with many startups and other companies already exploring blockchain technology in Russia, and beyond.

The Bank of Russia has already developed its own blockchain platform, known as Masterchain, while also empowering financial startup Qiwi to lead a new working group on fintech development.

It comes at a promising time for the blockchain, the technology that underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin, as well as a number of other technical use cases.

As blockchain models are expected to move from initial testing and development through to execution in 2017, this new support from the Russian authorities will push development still further, as the technology finally prepares for end use.

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