An IT specialist working for a medical institution in Russia’s Altai Republic was arrested three days ago for illegally mining crypto on the premises of a Covid-19 hospital.
Russia: illegal crypto mining at a Covid-19 hospital
In Putin’s Russia embroiled in conflict with Ukraine and wracked by international sanctions, a skilled IT employee was arrested in recent days because he was accused of installing cryptocurrency mining equipment in a Covid ward of the hospital where he worked.
It happened at the hospital in Gorno-Altaisk, the capital of the Altai Republic in southern Siberia, where a man for about a year allegedly carried out his cryptocurrency mining activities using the hospital’s IT facilities and electricity, which had since been converted into a Covid-19 care hospital.
According to local news reports, in February 2021, the man, who worked as head of digital information security, installed the hardware and connected it to the hospital’s servers, which were previously used to treat Covid-19 patients.
According to a statement from the regional department of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the mining equipment ran for nearly a full year on electricity stolen from the hospital, causing more than 400,000 rubles of damage (nearly $7,000 at today’s exchange rate) to the hospital’s accounts.
According to what police said, the man found himself in dire financial straits and therefore decided to turn to mining by exploiting precisely the hospital’s facilities. During the search in the apartment of the man whose details were not disclosed, mining devices and other computer equipment were recovered. The man now faces up to two years in prison.
Cryptocurrency mining activities in Russia
On the other hand, mining activity in Russia is becoming very widespread, especially after the ban imposed by Chinese authorities. Putin himself had spoken in positive terms about mining a year and a half ago. In early July, the Russian Central Bank had said it was ready to legalize mining in Russia.
The outbreak of the conflict has made cryptocurrencies and related activities a possible tool to try to circumvent the extremely harsh sanctions imposed by the international community. Mining, on the other hand, has long been seen as an activity that can offer a chance for additional income, also considering how Russia is very rich in raw materials and can offer cheap energy.
Cryptocurrency mining has yet to be fully regulated in Russia, whose abundant energy resources make it one of the most attractive places for an energy-intensive activity such as cryptocurrency mining.
Mining farms confiscated so far in Russia
In May this year, authorities in the North Caucasus region of Dagestan shut down two illegal mining farms, confiscating more than 1,500 machines. One of them was located at a pumping station of the Russian Republic Water Supply Company.
The mining plant had been installed by a resident of the capital Мahachkala who was later found to have colluded with employees of the local water company. Meanwhile, a cryptocurrency installation was also discovered in Russia’s oldest prison in Butyrka. It would have been run by a deputy director. In short, Russian miners seem in every way to be engineering ways to harness the energy of public facilities to do their business.