Recent news that “Russia will buy $10 billion in Bitcoin and ditch the U.S. dollar” is backed by the flimsiest of evidence. Publications such as The Telegraph, Bitcoinist, and the Daily Hodl been duped?
The airwaves were abuzz when news that Russia would buy $10 billion in Bitcoin surfaced. Allegedly, that work was “underway” to transfer deposits in U.S. Treasuries to BTC. Multiple publications ran the story, Including the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. Today, CCN raised questions as to whether the story was “fake news.”
However, the source of those claims, tweets form Vladislav Ginko, are questionable, at best:
Trace, I'm sitting here in Moscow, Russia and I see that there is a enormous work is underway to start investing huge amounts of central bank's reserves into Bitcoin, at least $10 billion. Russia has to do it to save economy from collapsing after looming new US sanctions.
— Vladislav Ginko (@martik) January 8, 2019
Ginko asserts that he is a “Moscow based expert,” deriving his credibility from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA). RANEPA is the largest state-funded institution of higher education in Moscow. He then proceeds to say that Russia will invest $10 billion in Bitcoin:
I remember about our project to cast our conversation about Bitcoin as Russia is going to invest $10 billion of its reserves to avoid US sanctions.
— Vladislav Ginko (@martik) January 7, 2019
Meanwhile, his source for why the Russian government is investing is either circular, or refers back to his purported credentials working at the Kremlin-backed institute:
There are several keyy factors why Russia gov is about to invest into Bitcoin. 1)As I know many officials' families personally made investments in into BTC. 2)US sanctions may be mitigated only through Bitcoin use. 3)Pensions reforms need crypto pensions to be introduced.
— Vladislav Ginko (@martik) January 6, 2019
This isn’t the first time Ginko has made claims that Russia is moving into crypto. He made the same claims of Russia moving billions from U.S. Treasuries to Bitcoin as early as August. He also made similar claims in July, saying that Russia would move to a “cryptorouble”
That said, there are credible people who speculate that such a move by Russia does make sense, from a socio-economic perspective.
“Russia plans to tackle US sanctions with Bitcoin investment”.
As I’ve argued before, it makes geopolitical sense.
Whether it will happen soon (or ever), one can’t predict. But it does make all the sense.
If a nation stockpiles gold, why not Bitcoin? https://t.co/YKD1fmwXJ8
— Fernando Ulrich (@fernandoulrich) January 15, 2019
News Outlets Fooled?
Multiple publications published the story solely based on Ginko’s tweets. The Daily Hodl was the first to air the news. Once the views started pouring in, other publications followed suit to soak up clicks.
Journalists at CryptoSlate combed through thousands of Ginko’s tweets to verify his experience and credentials. Some of his actions on the social media platform call his expertise into question, including retweeting a common Bitcoin scam, making a prediction that BTC will rise to $2 million at the end of 2019, asking for investment advice over Twitter, and posting dozens of peculiar tweets about dental care.
Earlier in 2018, Ginko revealed that not only does he work at RANEPA, he is also an investigative columnist who writes about crypto. A few of his titles: Why Doesn’t Washington Care About Its Former State Employees?, Will Senator John McCain come to Russia to prolong his life?, and Answer to Nikolay Starikov: Let’s appreciate our achievements!.
In another (redacted) tweet, he calls himself a “Bitcoin guru.” Meanwhile, his writing prior to 2018 shows little mention of cryptocurrency. He also claims to have worked for Touro College in New York for three years (as a lecturer according to one of his articles). The contents of the article will be updated once CryptoSlate can verify whether he’s an official representative of these institutions.
Vladislav Ginko’s presence on Google is sparse. His LinkedIn is empty, and RANEPA and Touro College do not show any evidence of him in their directories. Based on this evidence, there is no way to reliably verify that Vladislav Ginko is who he says he is.
Takeaways from the Story
If Vladislav Ginko’s comments aren’t reputable, then the entire story around Russia’s alleged multi-billion dollar investment into Bitcoin is possibly fiction. Choose which publications to trust carefully. And regardless of the reputation of a news agency, always investigate the original source of a claim before giving it full confidence.
Jan. 15th, 02:50: Article substantially revised to reflect that CryptoSlate is still awaiting responses from multiple entities.
Jan 15th, 07:35: Decrypt Media was not one of the publications that listed Vladislav Ginko’s tweets as fact, and actually called the tweet into question.