Illegal Crypto Mining: Russian Police Seize More than 3,200 Rigs in Siberia Raids

Russian law enforcement authorities have recently conducted raids on four large “illegal” data centers in Siberia, resulting in the seizure of more than 3,200 cryptocurrency mining rigs. The Novosibirsk branch of the Russian power provider Rosseti reported that the mining centers were operating as part of an interconnected “network” and estimated that the miners had stolen approximately $2.1 million worth of electricity from the power grid. Police officers confiscated nine power transformers and over 3,200 mining devices during the raids.

Novosibirsk and Irkutsk have emerged as major hubs for Russia’s growing crypto mining industry. However, power providers have expressed concerns about the rise of “illegal” mining, which involves the theft of electricity through illegal connections to the power network. The recent raids in Novosibirsk resulted in the complete shutdown of all four crypto farms, which were found in various locations across the city.

The facilities raided by the police included centers near a wastewater treatment plant, in a forest on the outskirts of the Leninsky District, near a city landfill on the left bank of the River Ob, and in a private sector area in the Kalininsky District. Although these farms were equipped with modern power equipment, they were not using legal connections to power grids, leading Rosseti to accuse the operators of carrying out industrial-scale electricity theft.

Authorities have pressed charges against the operators, who could face jail time if convicted. This crackdown on illegal crypto mining is part of a wider effort by power firms in Siberia and beyond to combat such activities. In recent months, illegal mining farms have been uncovered in Novosibirsk and Irkutsk Oblast, resulting in arrests and the seizure of mining equipment. Similar raids have taken place in cities like Krasnoyarsk, Omsk, and Khakassia, leading to the closure of numerous illegal mining farms.

The fate of the mining industry in Moscow remains uncertain, as miners express their willingness to pay taxes on their income and major firms offer to support national IT projects by allowing the government to use their advanced data centers. Legislation to regulate the industry is expected to be introduced soon, although delays caused by an unnamed government agency have been suggested.