Kosovo seizes hundreds of cryptocurrency mining devices

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

Tensions between the predominantly Serbian region and the predominantly ethnic Albanian government are high, and the Kosovo government on Tuesday banned cryptocurrency mining in an attempt to reduce electricity consumption.

During the operation, police “confiscated 272 different anti-miner devices used in the production of Bitcoin,” according to a police statement.

One person was arrested, he added.

“All the action took place and ended without incident,” Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said on Facebook.

The confiscated equipment consumes as much electricity as 500 households per month, or between 60,000 and 120,000 euros (68,000 and 136,000 dollars), Finance Minister Hekuran Murati said on Facebook.

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

The ethnic Serbs of the four municipalities in northern Kosovo have not paid for their electricity since the end of the 1998-1999 war between the Albanian guerrillas in search of independence and the Serbian armed forces.

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

According to local media, the total cost of energy spent in the predominantly Serbian north is around 12 million euros per year.

The energy crisis in Kosovo worsened after a production unit at one of the two main power plants ceased to operate and prompted the government to introduce power cuts in December.

The crisis also arises due to rising prices of world imports and increasing demand.

Earlier this week, police conducted two operations in predominantly Albanian areas and seized 70 pieces of crypto mining equipment.

Earlier this week, Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli called the hunt for cryptocurrency mining an “emergency measure” due to the crisis.

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

Pristina said in October it had drafted a cryptocurrency bill for parliament to pass by the end of last year. However, the legislation is still pending.

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