Kosovo Confiscates Bitcoin Mining Hardware Alleging Energy Crisis
As the government faced an energy crisis, Kosovo police confiscated hundreds of bitcoin mining devices and detained one individual in the country’s turbulent ethnic-Serb majority north on Saturday. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are produced by solving complicated equations – an effort that requires massive amounts of energy.
Tensions between the Serb-dominated region and the ethnic Albanian majority government remain high, and the Kosovo government imposed a temporary ban on cryptocurrency mining on Tuesday in an attempt to reduce energy use. Police “confiscated 272 distinct anti-miner equipment used in the manufacturing of Bitcoin” during the operation, according to a police statement.
According to the report, one individual was apprehended. “The whole operation took place and concluded without incident,” stated Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla on Facebook. According to Finance Minister Hekuran Murati on Facebook, the seized equipment consumes as much power as 500 households per month, or between 60,000 and 120,000 euros ($68,000 to $136,000). “We cannot allow individuals to illegally profit themselves at the cost of taxpayers.”
Since the conclusion of the 1998-1999 conflict between ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Serbian military forces, ethnic Serbs in Kosovo’s four northern municipalities have not paid for their power. They refuse to recognize Pristina’s authority because they are still loyal to Belgrade.
According to local media, the annual cost of electricity in the Serb-majority north is over 12 million euros. Kosovo’s energy situation has exacerbated when a production unit of one of the country’s two major power plants went down, prompting the government to impose power cuts in December.
The issue is partly caused by rising global import costs and increased demand. Police conducted two raids in ethnic Albanian majority districts earlier this week, seizing 70 pieces of crypto mining equipment. Because of the problem, Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli called the search for crypto currency mining a “emergency step” earlier this week.
However, police efforts have raised concerns about their legality, with experts claiming that there are no legal grounds to prohibit crypto currency mining since Kosovo lacks a legislation governing the subject. Pristina said in October that it had developed a law on cryptocurrency, which the parliament was expected to pass before the end of the year.
However, the law is still in the works.