Abkhazia Extends Internet Restrictions for Cryptocurrency Miners

The government in Abkhazia has extended an order prohibiting access to internet sites used by cryptocurrency miners. The measure is part of a wider ban on activities related to the extraction of digital coins that also limits the use of electricity and imports of mining equipment in the breakaway Georgian republic.

Authorities in Abkhazia Confirm Ban on Websites Needed by Local Miners

Abkhazia’s telecom and media watchdog has extended internet restrictions affecting crypto mining operations in the country. According to an order issued by the State Committee for Communications, Mass Media and Digital Development, access to certain websites used by miners remains prohibited until March 31, 2022. The initial ban adopted in late December expired on June 1 this year.

As per the document issued on Oct. 6, internet providers are required to implement the technical measures needed to block the websites that allow miners to conduct their coin minting activities, Forklog reported quoting the order. However, the government agency did not list the domain names of the sites that should be restricted.

Speaking to Sputnik Radio, the chairman of the committee, Beslan Khalvash, noted that the new order he signed applies to VPN services as well. He explained that the regulator used to take action against domains and IP addresses but as some users switched to VPNs. These platforms will also be targeted in the future. The official declined to comment in detail on how the ban had been circumvented but insisted:

In the fight against mining, we are reaching a completely different level.

Khalvash emphasized that internet providers in Abkhazia are now technically prepared to restrict access to both internet sites and VPNs. The companies have already acquired the necessary equipment and software to do this. The head of the watchdog assured: “I think that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow we will start closing these VPNs.”

Abkhazia, a partially recognized de facto state in the Southern Caucasus, introduced a temporary ban on mining activities in 2018 and extended it this spring until March 31, 2022. But officials in Sukhumi have recently recognized their efforts to impose the restrictions throughout the region have largely proved unsuccessful.

Despite seizing 6,000 mining devices, authorities have failed to disrupt crypto mining, which has proved to be an alternative source of income for many in the country. In September, the government in Sukhumi acknowledged that 30,000 mining rigs remain in the hands of miners, blamed for the region’s exacerbating power shortages.

Abkhazia Extends Internet Restrictions for Cryptocurrency Miners

Nevertheless, Beslan Khalvash insisted that the internet restrictions imposed last year have allowed Abkhazia to save a lot of electrical energy. “The decision was justified. I am sure that the extension of that order and the closure of VPNs will also have some effect… I think that this order will also provide an opportunity to save electricity,” he stated.

That, of course, is not so sure at all. Khalvash himself admitted that there are large cryptocurrency farms in Abkhazia which can afford to avoid using the services of local internet providers. “They can take internet from the satellite,” he conceded.

Earlier this year, reports revealed that Abkhazia is holding talks with its main backer, Russia, to solve the problem with its electricity deficit. The Minister of Economy Christina Ozgan said that authorities plan to organize additional supplies from the Russian Federation. What’s more, she added that they even want to set up facilities where miners can install their equipment and legally connect to the grid.

Do you think authorities in Abkhazia will be able to curb crypto mining? Tell us in the comments section below.

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