Moscow seems determined to use Blockchain technology for a national referendum that will determine whether President Vladimir Putin will be able to stand for re-election.
Russia's next electronic vote will take place on 25-30 June, the 'vote of all Russians' on a constitutional amendment adopted in 1993 that will determine whether to allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in power beyond the current limit of two consecutive six-year terms.
The information was announced on the official website of the Moscow government confirming that Moscow voters would be able to register for this electronic vote as of June 5.
For a high level of security and for an unalterable and transparent vote, Russia used Blockchain technology. A country that is about to ban the use of cryptocurrency.
No to cryptocurrency, but we trust the Blockchain?
Did you know that in 2017, more precisely on 10 October, President Vladimir Putin declared that the use of cryptocurrency was 'a risk' and that it was being used for criminal purposes?
For its part, the Russian central bank had also announced that it would block the sites selling Bitcoin and its competitors. Vladimir Putin said that cryptocurrencies could be used to launder money, promote tax evasion and finance terrorism. According to him:
'The use of cryptocurrencies carries serious risks.'
Two years later, on February 21, 2020, according to the International Business Times, the Central Bank of Russia and the Federal Security Service agreed to ban payments in cryptocurrency.
According to a senior Russian official, the draft law on digital assets would include a ban on issuing and selling cryptos. All crypto payments and all crypto users in the country are at risk. Alexei Guznov, the head of legal affairs at the Russian Central Bank, spoke to Interfax, a Russian news agency, about the kind of consensus the Russian authorities have reached on cryptos in Russia as well as on other bills of importance to the Central Bank.
Alexey Guznov, the head of legal affairs at the Russian Central Bank explained:
'We believe that there are significant risks of legalizing transactions with crypto-currencies from the point of view of financial stability, prevention of money laundering and consumer protection.
He added: 'We are opposed to the fact that there are institutions that organize the delivery of cryptocurrency and facilitate its circulation'.
Russia has been known to be anti-cryptocurrency, but what about the Blockchain?
Blockchain guarantees us transparency and security
First of all, it should be noted that in September, the inhabitants of several districts of Moscow were already able to vote electronically in the municipal elections. The same system will be adopted in the next 'All Russians Vote'. For this next vote, the majority of the nation will use traditional paper ballot papers, but people in Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod region will be able to vote electronically. Few details are available as to the exact way in which the blockchain will function. However, according to the Moscow authorities, the implementation of the blockchain should guarantee the 'security and transparency' of the vote. Thanks to the blockchain, the system is 'almost impossible to hack' and 'the security and transparency of citizens' will be guaranteed. In other words, the blockchain will make it possible to make each voter's vote anonymous, to encrypt data and to prevent any alteration of these votes.
The Russian municipality explained:
'The security and transparency of electronic voting will be ensured by the blockchain technology. Such a network does not have a single server. In order to change ballot information it is necessary to obtain the approval of most participants in the network, so the chain is almost impossible to break. »
Via an official page dedicated to electronic voting, the Moscow Information Technology Department explained that they will use Bitfury's open-source corporate blockchain, Exonum.
According to a source in Coindesk, a spokesman said:
'Blockchain voting is one of the most important applications of Exonum and blockchain technology as a whole. We have nothing to share at this time, but we will keep in touch with future announcements'.
According to coindesk, the company that built the e-voting solution for the Moscow authorities was Kaspersky Lab, the famous anti-virus software provider that has been consulting in the Blockchain field for the past few years.
It should be remembered that the purpose of the vote is to determine whether Russian citizens will choose whether to support the constitutional amendments, the proposal to allow Mr Putin to serve two more six-year terms - until 2036. These amendments will be put to the vote as a set of 14 articles and not as a single one. If the Russian people vote against the amendments, Putin will eventually have to step down as President in 2024.
Electronic voting not very appreciated
Not only in Russia, but voting using blockchain technology has proved difficult to implement in other countries as well. Several such projects have already been conducted for internal party elections in the United States. Voters seem to be not too enthusiastic about them so far.
According to Sergey Tikhomirov who is a researcher on Blockchain technology and a doctoral candidate at the University of Luxembourg said:
'Electronic voting poses many problems, even implementation of the Blockchain and this was clearly demonstrated during the Moscow elections'
A report by Roman Yuneman, an independent candidate running for the city council describing the weaknesses of the system set up by the Moscow authorities showed that the number of votes had decreased in almost 30% of cases, and Mr Yuneman's team received 70 complaints from people who could not vote electronically. Roman Yuneman said:
'There was no technical means of observing it and the voting administrators could falsify the data at any time. And, unlike paper ballots, in this case the falsification leaves no trace. Moreover, all data were collected on servers belonging to the Moscow authorities and were under their full control. Independent observers were unable to verify the authenticity of the vote count, and in one district, online and offline results showed opposite results. '
Written by Laetisia Harson, Project Manager at Magna Numeris
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