Kosovo's police seized nearly 200 devices for crypto mining in the northern part of the country populated mainly with ethnic Serbs in two separate raids since April 14, the economy minister announced.
In January 2022, Kosovo’s government decided to ban energy-hungry cryptocurrency mining in the country due to the energy crisis and power shortages during the winter months.
The police seized 174 illegal crypto-mining devices in Zubin Potok on April 14, and an additional 20 devices on April 16, according to tweets posted by Minister Artane Rizvanolli.
Cryptocurrency mining requires significant amounts of electricity to power computers that solve cryptographic equations to be rewarded with currency. It had become popular in northern parts of the country where residents had received free electricity for years.
Rizvanolli emphasised that the issue is not related to inter-ethnic tensions in Kosovo, but rather is an issue of the rule of law versus illegal activities.
“Non-payment of electricity bills encourages such illegal activities. This is why Serbia blocks the energy roadmap implementation. We fulfilled all our commitments. Time for the other side to do the same, urgently,” Rizvanolli said.
Kosovo has had difficulty billing the Serb population of northern Kosovo for electrical consumption since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008.
Rizvanolli advisor’s Edita Pozhegu was cited by BIRN on April 17 as saying that the confiscation of such equipment from the Serb-majority north has saved the state budget some €2mn per year in electricity.
Pozhegu's statement highlights the financial impact of illegal crypto-mining activities on the state budget.