Kosovo police have raided a series of underground digital currency farms, seizing hundreds of cryptocurrency mining devices. Authorities have stated that over 200 mining devices were seized during this raid alone. According to reports, electricity costs are very low in Kosovo which makes it an attractive place for crypto miners to set up their operations.
Authorities are investigating whether this is just one instance or if there is a greater operation at play here.
Authorities in Pristina banned the mining of digital currencies amid an energy crisis, triggering the operation against underground crypto farms.
Kosovo’s Cryptocurrency Crackdown
As part of efforts to curb crypto mining activities, Kosovo law enforcement agents have seized hundreds of mining machines. An arrest was made in the latest police operation in predominantly Serb northern parts of the country.
Kosovo police said 272 cryptocurrency production devices were seized in Leposavic, according to an AFP report. “The whole action took place and ended without incidents,” Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla shared on Facebook.
Hekuran Murati also discussed the mining equipment on his social media platform, pointing out that the estimated monthly consumption is equivalent to the energy use of 500 homes, worth between 60,000 and 120,000 euros.
He said, “We cannot allow the illegal enrichment of some, at the expense of taxpayers.”
A total of 342 mining rigs have been confiscated since the raids against miners began earlier this week, according to data from the Ministry of Interior. In Pristina, all mining operations were halted on Tuesday after the government cited a growing power deficit caused by the cold weather.
The Future of Mining: How Crypto is Linked to Ethnic Tensions in Kosovo?
During the government offensive on mining facilities, tensions have been high between the majority ethnic Albanian-dominated government of Kosovo and the majority ethnic Serbs living in four municipalities in the north of the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo.
Since the 1998 – 1999 Kosovo war, the Serbs have not paid for electricity for over two decades.
According to estimates by local media, the public utility covers its bills with its own revenues. The total amounts to around €12 million annually. Insufficient local generation and rising import prices have aggravated the current energy crisis. Also, 70 mining devices were seized during two police raids in ethnic Albanian majority areas.
The crypto mining ban was presented by Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli as an emergency measure, along with other proposals from a special parliamentary committee. However, critics have raised doubts about its legality since it is not prohibited under the current legislation to mint digital currencies. A draft law on cryptocurrency regulation that was submitted to the parliament in October has yet to be adopted.
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