cryptocurrency mining: Kosovo seizes hundreds of cryptocurrency mining devices

PRISTINA: Kosovo police on Saturday confiscated hundreds of crypto-mining machines and arrested a single person from the jittery ethnic Serb majority in the north as the country suffered an energy crisis.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are created by solving complex equations – an endeavor that consumes huge amounts of energy

Tensions are rising between the Serbian-majority region and the Albanian-majority government, and the government of Kosovo on Tuesday imposed a temporary ban on cryptocurrency mining in a bid to reduce electricity consumption.

A police statement said that during the operation the police “confiscated 272 different anti-mining devices used to produce bitcoin.”

She added that one person had been arrested.

“The whole process happened and finished without incident,” Interior Minister Shellal Svikla said on Facebook.

Finance Minister Hikoran Moratti said on Facebook that the confiscated equipment uses electricity for 500 homes per month, or between 60,000 and 120,000 euros ($68,000 and $136,000).

We cannot allow the illegal enrichment of some at the expense of taxpayers.”

Ethnic Serbs in Kosovo’s four northern municipalities have not paid for electricity since the end of the 1998-1999 war between Albanian independence-seeking guerrillas and the Serbian armed forces.

They do not recognize the authority of Pristina because they are still loyal to Belgrade.

According to local media, the total cost of energy spent in the Serb-majority north is about 12 million euros annually.

Kosovo’s energy crisis worsened after a production unit at one of its two main power plants stopped working and prompted the government to implement a power cut regime in December.

The crisis also comes as a result of rising global import prices and increased demand.

Earlier this week, police carried out two operations in Albanian-majority areas and confiscated 70 pieces of crypto-mining equipment.

Economy Minister Artan Rezvanuli earlier this week described the search for cryptocurrency mining as an “emergency measure” due to the crisis.

However, police operations have raised questions about their legality as experts say there are no legal grounds to ban cryptocurrency mining as Kosovo does not have a law regulating the issue.

Pristina said in October it had drafted a crypto-currency bill that was due to be adopted by parliament by the end of last year. The legislation is still pending however.