A group of engineers from the Russian Federal Nuclear Center were arrested in Russia because they tried to use one of the most powerful supercomputers in the country to mine bitcoin.
The Russian Federal Nuclear Center has around 20,000 employees and it is located in Sarov, a closed town where the first nuclear bomb in the Soviet Union was made. To enter the town, visitors need a special permit.
Tatiana Zalesskaya, the head of the press service for the research institute, said to Interfax that as far as she knows, a criminal charge has been filed against the implicated engineers: “There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including the so-called mining. It is a technically hopeless and criminally punishable activity”.
The supercomputer owned by the center has a capacity of 1 petaflop and it can perform 1,000 trillion calculations in one second. The supercomputer is not connected to internet for security reasons. When the engineers tried to connect it to internet to use his power to mine cryptocurrencies, the security service of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center stopped them and had them arrested.
Legislation that will deal with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is currently being developed in Russia, but it is not yet clear how the mining of cryptocurrencies will be regulated, except the fact that the miners will maybe have to register with a central authority. In the middle of last month, Aleksey Kolesnik, a Russian businessman supposedly bought two power plants that he was planning to use to mine cryptocurrencies in the future.
The arrested engineers are not the first people to think of using former Soviet military installations to mine cryptocurrencies. A company called Ice Rock Mining is planning to establish its mining operations in a former Soviet bunker located in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The company said the naturally cold temperature of the underground bunker and its location in the vicinity of a hydro power plant makes it ideal for the mining of cryptocurrencies.