Federal agents detained multiple employees at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov (a closed town in the Nizhny Novgorod region) after they were caught using the facility’s supercomputers for personal reasons, including the mining of cryptocurrency. The center confirmed to the website TJournal that a criminal investigation is underway, though it wouldn’t specify the charges. According to the tabloid-affiliated Telegram channel Mash, two engineers face treason charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The Federal Nuclear Center also told TJournal that law enforcement officials have uncovered attempts to mine cryptocurrency using industrial computers “at a whole range of large companies,” though spokesperson again refused to clarify.
In cryptocurrency networks, “miners” are rewarded for contributing to the processing power of a cryptocurrency's network. Miners are constantly trying to build cheaper-yet-efficient machines to carry out this computer processing work, managing the cost of the machines themselves, cooling facilities, and electricity needs.
On February 6, an apartment building in the Russian city of Artyom caught fire on February 6 because of a short circuit allegedly caused by overheated machinery being used to mine cryptocurrency.