On October 20, a man opened fire on people attempting to steal his cryptocurrency mining equipment in the Abkhazia region bordering Russia. According to police, the man killed one of his own friends while fending off the attackers and is now in custody.
Abkhazia is a disputed territory along the Black Sea where officials have been fighting cryptocurrency miners for years. Electricity in the country is ten times cheaper than in neighboring Georgia and miners have flooded the area and stressed the power grid, leading to rolling blackouts. The problem is so bad that Abkhazia has estimated there is one crypto-mining facility for every 400 residents. Abkhazia briefly legalized mining, but then outlawed it again this year and began to seize and destroy the machines.
Authorities in Abkhazia have just started the investigation of the cryptocurrency shooting but early reports indicated it was a robbery gone wrong. According to a statement from the General Prosecutor’s Office of Abkhazia, a group of men running a cryptocurrency mining operation in the village of Aatsy tried to stop the theft of their machines by at least five men using Kalashnikov rifles and Makarov pistols. Amid the gunfire, police say that one of the men killed his friend.
“When stopping the theft of equipment for the extraction of cryptocurrency by at least five persons, they opened fire from the available firearms, as a result of which Pachial R.G., realizing the social danger of his actions when firing shots from close range, comitted the murder of A.B. Ardzibna,” the statement said, according to Google translate.
According to Echo of the Caucasus, there are conflicting reports about what actually happened during the shooting. The official statement is worded strangely and friends and family of the deceased are keeping quiet so as not to disrupt the investigation, though the outlet notes that it appears indisputable that the shooting occurred around and because of a Bitcoin mine.
“Astamur Ardzinba was killed. A friend, a classmate of my eldest son. A well-mannered young man whom I loved in a fatherly way. I have been broken since yesterday,” Abkhazia blogger David Dasnia said on his Facebook page, Echo of the Caucasus reported. “I cry like a child from impotence. Only one thought comes to my mind: what about his father? May his murderers be cursed forever and ever! When will total order be restored in Abkhazia?”