Russian economist and Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration member Vladislav Ginko is back with his assertion that the country’s government is rapidly moving away from its dependence on the U.S. dollar and into the cryptocurrency realm. Ginko made similar claims this past January, which were later refuted, but he has held his ground and has now stepped forward to say that a number of companies and wealthy individuals have purchased over $8 billion in Bitcoin Core (BTC). According to Bitcoinist, Ginko states, “1.8 million BTC were bought by Russian companies and wealthy Russians. There is no direct involvement of Russian state but some who buy bitcoin are awaiting that the increasing U.S. sanctions will make impossible to do international transactions as usual so they purchase bitcoin as a way to circumvent U.S. sanctions.” He added, “There is no direct influence of Russia’s purchases to the bitcoin price but in mid-term it starts playing role in driving bitcoin higher. Russia’s companies and people, especially those who are under risk being put on OFAC list, have to purchase bitcoins indirectly, buying up digital wallets when they may formally still belong to some U.S. citizens.” OFAC is part of the U.S. Treasury Department. It has introduced a number of sanctions against Russia and there is talk that it could soon ban the use of dollars by the country’s oil companies. Ginko asserts that he is a person “deeply involved in political and economic affairs of Russia frequently cited person in Russia’s media” in order to support his claims. He also expects BTC’s price to reach $2 million before the end of this year, driven by Russia’s involvement with the digital currency. In a Twitter post, Ginko predicted, “When I've predicted that Russia's rush to avoid sanctions will bring about $2,000,000 per Bitcoin at the end of current year, many were stalled. But Moscow has already bought million BTC to secure oil&gas deals when U.S. dollars will be banned by OFAC for Russian companies.” BTC could already be on its way—it has risen to just under $5,000 since Tuesday. It still has a long way to go to reach $2 million, but there’s a lot of time left in 2019.