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Opposition Links Increased Electricity Tariffs to Bitcoin Data Center

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, January 11
(TBILISI)--Parliamentary minority European Georgia links increased electricity tariffs to the biggest Bitcoin data center of the virtual currency mining giant BitFury, located in Gldani District, Tbilisi.

BitFury also used to produce Bitcoins in Gori, Georgia's Eastern city. Bitcoins are a virtual currency that pays for goods or services on an online network. They are created online and stored electronically.

European Georgia claims the Bitcoin data center in Gldani belongs to a tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and also Georgia’s former Prime Minister.

Sergo Ratiani, European Georgia member, claims the factory received advantages, adding the building was given to Ivanishvili for a symbolic price of GEL 1. Ratiani assures the factory consumes a lot of energy, does not pay property or profit taxes and gets the electricity with the lowest tariffs.

Another member of the European Georgia, Akaki Bobokhidze, says the Bitcoin data center consumes more electricity than the whole Kakheti region. He suspects that increased electricity tariffs will affect only the population and other enterprises but not the BitFury.

“We call on BitFury to publish their contract with the government of Georgia. We also want them to reveal how much the factory consumes in an hour and what are the electricity tariffs for the company,” Bobokhidze stated at the press-conference.

BitFury released a statement in response to the European Georgia, saying since the opening of the first factory in 2014 the company has never had benefits in paying taxes. The statement also reads the mining is underway only in Gldani factory, adding no extra energy is consumed there.

“Our company will publish the detailed information on utility payments by the end of week," the statement reads.

Georgia’s Co-Investment Fund (GCF), which allocated a loan for BitFury in 2014, also commented on the issue, stating neither GCF nor Bidzina Ivanishvili are linked to BitFury.

“The company paid the loan in 2015,” the GCF said. “BitFury has contributed to the development of a high-tech sector in Georgia and has marked the country on the global technological map.”

The Co-Investment Fund assures the statements of the opposition are politically motivated and calls on the politicians to check the information before making any statements.

Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission (GNERC) increased electricity tariffs in Georgia from January 1, 2018. The GNERC said one of the changes in tariffs was an increased consumption of electricity in the country.