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Lukashenko wants Belarus to harness energy for crypto mining

Lukashenko wants Belarus to harness energy for crypto mining


During a meeting at the state enterprise JSC Belaruskali in recent days, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has long been at the centre of controversy for his attitudes considered illiberal and undemocratic, urged the employees of the fertiliser company to use the excess electricity available to mine cryptocurrencies.

Belarus has legalized cryptocurrency-related activities

This is not the first time the Belarusian leader has spoken about cryptocurrencies or mining. Cryptocurrencies have been regulated in Belarus since 2017.

Then last February it was the turn of Energy Minister Viktor Karankevich who had expressed the country’s willingness to prepare all the necessary measures to be able to create in the Belarusian country cryptocurrency mining farms like in Russia, China and the United States.

“This is a new direction for us now. It is interesting, but to start we need to conduct a detailed study of this issue, including an assessment of the possible risks associated with this type of activity. This sector is developing not only in China, but also in other countries such as the US, Canada and Russia, it could be a viable solution for our country as well.” 

Belarus has legalized cryptocurrency-related activities

Belarus legalized cryptocurrency-related business activities, including mining, with a presidential decree that came into force in March 2018.

In April 2019, President Alexander Lukashenko had proposed the possibility of using excess energy from the country’s first nuclear power plant to mine cryptocurrencies and then sell them.

In November last year, the country’s largest banking institution, Belarusbank, launched a service that allows users to buy and sell digital currencies with a Visa card.

On 4 August, Lukashenko, during a speech to the local parliament, underlined his determination to encourage the development of “own payment services independent of transnational ones” and praised the role of “new digital technologies”.

Lukashenko and mining in Belarus

However, the fact that the Belarusian leader wants to focus heavily on digital currencies and digital innovation in payments would also be demonstrated by Decree No. 8, “On the development of the digital economy”, of March 2018, which stipulated that in the years 2021-2023 a number of commercial banks would participate in the pilot programme of token issuance.

According to some of his detractors, one of the objectives of Lukashenko’s crypto-friendly policy is also to put state control over this type of activity, which is allegedly used by the opposition to finance itself, escaping the tight control of the Belarusian regime.

One of the most striking cases in this regard is that of Bysol, a non-profit organization, which in a short space of time is said to have raised $2 million in Bitcoin to finance the opposition to the regime.

According to the opposition, this attitude on the part of the Belarusian leader, who restricts the use of the internet to his citizens, could be more of a propaganda or utilitarian move than anything else.

Proof of this is, for example, that since 2017 there has only been one cryptocurrency exchange allowed to operate in the entire country.

 

 

 






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