Authorities in Russia’s Irkutsk region have so far filed 1,000 lawsuits against workers they call “grey” miners, or people who mint coins in their homes. In more than half of these cases, the courts ordered the defendants to compensate the operators of the distribution networks.
Hundreds of crypto miners sued in Irkutsk for mining digital currencies using subsidized electricity
Electricity distributors in the Irkutsk region of Siberia have filed a lawsuit numbering 1,000 against consumers who illegally mined cryptocurrency in residential areas. In 600 of them, judges ruled that so-called “gray” miners should pay a total of more than 260 million rubles ($3.5 million) in compensation for losses and damages.
The most common reason for going to court is unusually high electricity usage, regional news portal Irk.ru reported. Such is the recent case with the owner of a house in the village of Novaya Razvodnaya, whose average monthly electricity consumption over the course of a year reached almost 80,000 kWh, exceeding the total burned by the other 15 houses on the same street.
The man denied any wrongdoing, claiming he wasn’t mining cryptocurrencies but used heat guns to dry out his basement. The Irkutsk District Court did not accept his explanation, and therefore he will have to pay the local electricity company, Irkutskenergosbyt, more than 2 million rubles (about $27,000).
The amount should cover the difference between subsidized electricity tariffs for residential purposes, which can be as low as $0.01 per kWh in rural areas, and the much higher tariffs businesses are asked to pay.
Over the past two years, authorities have been trying to curb home-based crypto mining in the region, which has become a popular source of additional income for a growing number of people. Officials believe that regulating mining in Russia and introducing differentiated rates, depending on consumption, will help resolve the issue.
Citing Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Snikkars, Russian press reported in December that electricity distribution companies have begun locating makeshift mining farms in residential buildings due to increased grid loads at substations and are now prosecuting illegal miners.
While crypto mining has yet to be regulated in Russia, with a special bill pending in parliament, such activities are not explicitly prohibited at this time. However, utilities can still prove in court that these consumers are not using the electricity for domestic purposes and ask to be charged commercial rates.
Do you think the Russian authorities will continue to crack down on amateur cryptocurrency miners? Share your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.
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