Kosovo Police Seize Hundreds of Bitcoin Mining Machines Amid Electricity Shortages
Police in Kosovo reported the seizure of more than 300 Bitcoin mining devices since the raids against miners began last week.
On January 6, police said it confiscated 67 mining devices “suspected to be used for the production of cryptocurrencies” in a raid in the city of South Mitrovica.
This was followed by an announcement on January 8, with authorities reporting that they assisted the country’s customs agency in seizing another 272 Antminer Bitcoin mining machines in the municipality of Leposavic. One person was arrested during the raid, according to the police.
In a separate press release published the same day, the Kosovo police reported that it had also confiscated an additional 39 Bitcoin mining machines North of Pristina, the country’s capital city.
Praising the police raid, the Minister for Economy Artane Rizvanolli took to Twitter to say that the seizure means taxpayers will save “tens of thousands of euros per month.”
Dhjetëra mijëra Euro në muaj të taksapaguesve të kursyera = energji për qindëra familje kosovare gjatë krizës. Falemnderit @Kosovo_Police dhe Dogana e Kosovës #KosovoCustoms. https://t.co/byb4GzOfHR— Artane Rizvanolli (@Artane_R) January 8, 2022
Kosovo’s energy crisis
The Kosovo government declared a 60-day state of emergency to deal with its energy crisis in December, followed by a blanket ban on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining last week.
The South Eastern European country saw its largest coal-fired power plant shut down in December due to a technical issue, forcing Kosovo to import electricity from neighboring Serbia.
However, amid its own infrastructure issues combined with freezing temperatures and heavy snows, Serbia lost a third of its power capacity, resulting in higher prices.
Kosovo, which has a population of 1.8 million people, is now importing more than 40% of its consumed energy, according to Reuters.
The government claims that the state of emergency allowed it to impose power cuts and reallocate money for imports. Still, critics have questioned the legitimacy of banning Bitcoin mining.
“There is not enough of a legal basis for the ban of cryptocurrency mining, considering that no special law regulates this issue,” Arber Jashari, a Kosovo-based legal expert, told Balkan Insight last week.
Kosovo lawmakers drafted a cryptocurrency bill in October 2021. Though the parliament was expected to adopt it by the end of 2021, the legislation is still pending.Source