University students in Russia minting digital currencies in their dormitories risk penalties and even criminal charges, according to a legal expert quoted by local media. The warning comes as Russian authorities are trying to curb crypto mining with cheap energy in residential areas.
Mining May Turn Into Risky Undertaking for Russian Students
As more and more Russians are setting up improvised crypto farms in places with access to subsidized electricity, like their homes, students have been warned that mining digital coins in the dorm can be treated as a criminal violation of the law.
At the very least, universities will demand that they pay the excess power consumption, Vladimir Shelupakhin from the Gorgadze and Partners legal firm told the RIA Novosti news agency. In some cases, however, the amateur miners may be prosecuted for crimes, he added.
Mining can cause significant material damages, the report notes. If a university pays a higher electricity bill, it may seek compensation from the students that have been caught minting cryptocurrency, the lawyer elaborated. But if the miners refuse to cover these expenses, they may eventually pay with their freedom, Shelupakhin warned.
“If it isn’t possible to identify the miners, then it is necessary to report to the police. And in this case, the violators will bear criminal liability under article 165 of the Criminal Code (Causing property damage by deceit or breach of trust),” the legal expert specified.
Crypto mining in Russia is not only a profitable business for companies but has become an alternative income source for many ordinary Russians as well. Household electricity in the country is subsidized and much cheaper than the power sold to companies, especially in energy-rich regions.
Consumption by the population in Irkutsk, where electricity rates start at just $0.01 per kWh in rural areas, has increased four times in 2021 and authorities believe the spike is due to mining hardware running in basements and garages. Miners have been blamed for breakdowns and outages.
In an effort to deal with the issue, members of the parliamentary Energy Committee have recently suggested to the federal government a set of measures aimed at curbing home mining. The move comes after the Russian association of energy suppliers sent similar proposals to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
The lawmakers want utilities to be allowed to disconnect illegal miners from the grid and consumers required to declare the intended use of the electrical energy. They also insist that internet providers should be obliged to share with authorities the IP addresses of suspected miners and data about their mining activity.