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Crypto Miners Blamed for Abkhazia Power Outages

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: 3asy60lf

Major power blackouts in Abkhazia have been blamed on illegal crypto miners, marking a fresh setback for the region.

News headlines have been dominated by bitcoin (BTC) and altcoin mining in recent years in the de facto Caucasus-based state. Abkhazia sits in the northwestern corner of Georgia, bordering Russia. And its climate and low energy costs make it an ideal spot for mining tokens.

(Source: Ssolbergj/CC BY 3.0)

But miners have been blamed for years of power shortages, outages, and blackouts. In 2020, angry villagers forcibly drove crypto miners out of a settlement, blaming them for the fact that they were left without power for days at a time.

Many have claimed that miners have connected their rigs directly to power networks, in a bid to mine coins “for free.”

The government’s own relationship with mining has become complex. Industrial miners have previously been heralded as the champions of new economic growth engines.

In 2021, the government announced plans to create a “techno park” to host mining firms. Similar parks have been built in Belarus and Kazakhstan – with relatively high levels of success.

But power issues have blighted such drives. The government has responded to power cuts by introducing a series of “temporary” bans on mining, and has frequently u-turned on what is now a politically charged matter.

But, Echo Kavkaza reported, this winter has brought fresh challenges for Abkhazia. The area is now suffering daily “rolling blackouts,” the outlet wrote. In some cases, these have lasted five hours – although shorter blackouts of one to three hours have also been reported.

Abkhazia: Crypto Mining Blamed for ‘Rolling Blackouts’

Russia – a key ally of the Abkhazian government – has been attempting to assist by providing power from across the border.

But the Abkhazian power provider, Chernomorenergo, stated that even this is not enough to save the de facto state’s ailing grid.

The provider said that the “load on the line carrying electricity from the Russian Federation has exceeded permissible limits.”

Chernomorenergo said:

“The sharp increase in load is due to the illegal connection of cryptocurrency mining equipment. The Russian [power provider] has warned that if the load does not decrease, the flow of electricity will be automatically turned off.”

The provider urged customers to “conserve electricity and turn off all cryptocurrency mining equipment that is illegally connected to the network.”

The call was echoed by Prime Minister Alexander Ankvab, who said:

“The entire population of Abkhazia is suffering because of the owners of crypto mining farms.”

The Vice President Badra Gunba chaired a meeting on “energy supply and countering illegal cryptocurrency mining” over the weekend.

Bitcoin mining pool share over the past week. (Source: Mempool Space)

The government stated that it had seized seized “about 130 devices for mining cryptocurrencies” in early February. In total, it claims that it has confiscated “more than 5,500 devices” since crypto mining-related issues began.

However, the same media outlet noted:

“Everyone is well aware that this is but a drop in the ocean.”

Echo Kavkaza claimed that most miners were using illegal connections and were “mostly” mining “for free.”