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Kosovo seizes hundreds of cryptocurrency mining devices

PRISTINA (AFP) – Kosovo police seized hundreds of cryptocurrency mining machines and arrested one person in the tense ethnic-Serb majority north as the country suffered an energy crisis.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are created through solving complex equations – an endeavour that consumes enormous amounts of energy.

Tensions between the Serb-majority area and the ethnic Albanian majority government are running high and Kosovo’s government on Tuesday brought in a temporary ban on cryptocurrency mining in an effort to bring down electricity consumption.

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

One person was arrested, it added.

Cryptocurrency mining facilities in Pristina, Kosovo. PHOTO: AFP

“The whole action took place and ended without incidents,” Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said on Facebook.

The confiscated equipment uses as much electricity as 500 homes a month or between EUR60,000 and EUR120,000, said Finance Minister Hekuran Murati on Facebook.

“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 their electricity since the end of the 1998-1999 war between independence-seeking ethnic Albanian guerrilla and Serbian armed forces.