This week,

  1. DR Analytica’s new bulletin on digitalization in Eurasia;
  2. Russia to legalize investments in cryptocurrencies;
  3. Uzbekistan will introduce 4G in 2018;
  4. Russia prepares three laws limiting the use of ICT;
  5. Belarus launched a new blockchain service;
  6. Tashkent to become a “Safe City”;
  7. Moldova launched an electronic prosecution system;
  8. The online retail in Georgia is growing.   

1. Digitalization of National Economies and E-Governance – a Regional Trend in Eurasia.

DR Analytica published a bulletin that summarizes key developments in the region related to national digitalization programs, efforts, and challenges to provide analysts and decision-makers with an actionable intelligence. DR Analytica is directly engaged in these activities on the ground and could provide additional information on request.   

2. The Acceptance of Cryptocurrencies in Russia Is Rising.

The working group assessing the risks of cryptocurrencies turnover in the domestic market was created in the State Duma. The group plans to create a bill aimed at legalizing investments in cryptocurrencies. One of the challenges is the elimination of legislative gaps preventing the settlement of crowdfunding deals and contracts concluded within the framework of the ICO (Initial Coin Offerings).

DR Comments: See our analysis on the role of blockchain in the Russian “Digital Economy” program and the implementation of Masterchain – the Ethereum-based national system for bank clients.

3. The Introduction of 4G Was Announced by the National Operator.

Uzmobile announced that 4G coverage will be provided for all regions of the country by 2018. The announcement comes after the government granted special privileges to Uzmobile, allowing installation of the base stations without additional permits. The plan calls for 11,000 base stations to be installed throughout the country.

DR Comments: In past reports, we noted that Uzbekistan redistributed radio frequencies to support the introduction of 4G based on LTE technology and increase competition among national mobile providers. However, the new privileges for the state-owned company reopen the question of the government attitude toward free competition in the Telecommunication industry – since other operators have not received same privileges.

4. Three Laws to Rule Them All, Three Laws to Find Them…

Three bills introducing new limitations on the use of ICTs passed the second reading in the Russian Duma last week. The Parliament approved a bill banning the use of anonymizers and VPN-services. The bill amends the law “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” by requiring law enforcement agencies to blacklist services allowing the circumvention of blocked websites (e.g. TOR), and introduces sanctions against websites describing how to use those services (e.g. Apple Store). The second bill bans the illegal distribution of SIM cards. Starting in June 2018, penalties will apply to persons who do not have the authority of telecom operators to distribute SIMs. The last bill bans the user’s anonymity in Instant Messengers.

5. Blockchain Enters Belarusian Banking.

The National Bank of Belarus launched an information network based on the blockchain technology. The Settlement Center of the National Bank will administer the service. Experts emphasize that blockchain technology that provides decentralized storage of data and thereby protecting them, is optimal for solving information security problems. The National Bank also plans to use blockchain to maintain a register of stock transactions.

6. Welcome to Tashkent, a “Safe City”.

On September 1, 2017, the capital of Uzbekistan will begin the implementation of the “Safe City” program. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is installing video surveillance systems and creating a new special unit to ensure continuous security control in public places. The approbation of the system will last for two years, after which it will be implemented in all cities across the country.

7. Fear ye not, the E-Judgement is Cometh!

Since July 1, 2017, the Prosecutor’s Office began to manage criminal investigation cases electronically. Officials expect that a project worth USD $95,000 will help to improve transparency of the whole criminal process, reduce the average term of an investigation, as well as minimize corruption. The new system, entitled “Criminal prosecution: E-Case”, will be integrated with the information systems of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Center for Combating Corruption, the Customs Service, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of IT and Communications and other government agencies.

DR Comments: This is the first project to automate case management of criminal prosecution in the post-Soviet space. Previously, we informed about the automation of civil proceedings in Uzbekistan and about a project to implement a comprehensive information management system in the general jurisdiction courts in Moscow.

8. The Georgian Online Retail Sector Shows Positive Dynamics.

According to the National Revenue Agency, the volume of online retail transactions during the first half of 2017 reached USD $34 million. In 2015 and 2016, the total annual turnover of the online retail sector was about USD $35.8 million and USD $58.3 million, respectively, which makes analysts cautiously optimistic.