Authorities and police searched for cryptocurrency mining in a northern Kosovo municipality inhabited by Serbs on Friday. According to the Turkish Anadolu Agency, Kosovo police confiscated hundreds of bitcoin mining equipment from inhabitants of a mostly Serb neighbourhood in the country’s north, citing a member of the Albanian-led administration in Pristina.
According to Economy Minister Artane Rizvanolli, 174 unregistered pieces of technology used to create virtual money were seized. Kosovo, which is majority Albanian, has had difficulty paying the Serb population of northern Kosovo for electricity use for the past 23 years since the country gained independence from Serbia.
While the four northern municipalities have just 2% of the city’s total 1.8 million population, they consume 6% of the city’s electricity, and their consumption is increasing, from 214 GWh in 2011 to 267 GWh in 2017 and 372 GWh in 2021. According to reports, unpaid energy and water bills in four Serb towns in northern Kosovo total more than €300 million, or almost $330 million.
Rizvanolli announced the operation on social media, claiming that nonpayment of power bills fosters illicit crypto mining. The Economy Minister continued, “It’s time for the other side to do the same.” In order to minimize unpaid electricity usage, the Kosovo government has proposed a temporary ban on crypto mining until the end of 2021, as well as a crackdown on imported equipment.
According to Adriatik Stavileci, a spokesperson for Kosovo’s customs department, between January 1, 2022, and March 31, 2022, customs agents seized roughly 700 graphic processing units (GPUs) and 336 high-speed Antminers valued slightly more than 167,000 euros. The measure has the potential to exacerbate tensions in the ethnically divided, partially recognized Balkan state, and officials in Pristina and Belgrade have already spat insults over it.
According to Belgrade, the crackdown is motivated by an intention to inflame tensions in the separatist area. The raids targeted Serbs on a day holy to the Serbian Orthodox Church, according to the Serbian government’s coordinating office for Kosovo and Metohija, and the police action was regarded as a continuation of persecution of the Serbian population.
Kosovo, a predominantly Albanian-populated region, proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008.
Serbia still considers its former province to remain under its control, hence it has refused to recognize the country’s independence. Precedence Research forecasts that the global cryptocurrency mining business will grow from $1.92 billion in 2022 to $7 billion in 2032, with a CAGR of 12.90% between 2023 and 2032.