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Russia c.bank says Bitcoin could have future, warns on regulation

ST PETERSBURG, July 2 (Reuters) - Russia's central bank said on Wednesday that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin could have a future but warned that it could move to regulate their use in Russia.

"One shouldn't reject these instruments, perhaps they really have a future, but in our country the criminal world immediately starts to use everything new," said Georgy Luntovsky, the central bank's first deputy chairman.

"Perhaps after a certain time we will make a decision about some legislative regulation of this issue," Luntovsky told journalists at a banking conference in St. Petersburg, adding that the central bank and government were discussing the matter.

The central bank had already warned Russians in January that transactions involving Bitcoin were highly speculative and that the unit carried a large risk of losing its value.

Russians prosecutors subsequently issued a statement saying the rouble was the sole official Russian currency and that Bitcoin could be used for illegal activities such as money laundering and financing terrorism.

The Bitcoin community in the United States, far more developed than the one in Russia, has come under intense scrutiny as authorities crack down on illegal activity carried out using the digital currency.

(Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Tom Heneghan)