The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has urged citizens to mine cryptocurrencies instead of moving abroad to pursue low-paying farming jobs.
Speaking at the opening of the Petrikovsky mining and processing plant on August 27th, Lukashenko said that the country had ample energy resources that are waiting to be put to good use. He referred to the country’s numerous abandoned industrial sites, which include both electric and nuclear power plants.
Cryptocurrencies (or whatever they’re called) taunted as a solution for massive emigration from Belarus
According to a report from Russian media site RBC, Lukashenko addressed the rising number of people moving abroad looking for seasonal jobs, saying that nobody was waiting for Belarusians with open arms. If a country was willing to accept the huge influx of migrants, it would only be for low-paying farming jobs in other Eastern European countries such as Poland.
He said that there were a lot of financial opportunities for people in Petrikovsky, as the region is rich with cheap energy resources.
“Start mining cryptocurrencies, or whatever they’re called,” he said last week. “There is enough electricity in the country.”
While Lukashenko’s comments might come as a surprise, given the recent regulatory headaches miners have been faced with, cryptocurrencies have been fully legalized in the country for almost four years. The country adopted the Decree of Digital Economy in December 2017, exempting the crypto industry from taxes and allowing its citizens to freely own and transact in all types of digital assets.
Belarus has been at the forefront of crypto adoption in Europe
This also isn’t the first time the controversial president has pushed for the expansion of cryptocurrency mining. Earlier this year, the country’s Ministry of Energy announced that it was actively exploring starting a state-run cryptocurrency mining project.
In April 2019, Lukashenko himself proposed using excess energy from the country’s first nuclear power plant to mine cryptocurrencies.
President Lukashenko of Belarus talking about using nuclear power to mine #bitcoin
— El Baggins 🌋 (@satoshibaggins) September 28, 2019
The same year, Belarusbank, the largest bank in the country, said that it was considering setting up a cryptocurrency exchange as part of its digitalization effort.
The massive pro-crypto movement in Belarus is a result of a complicated political situation that has plagued the country for the past decade. Lukashenko, who became president in 1994 and has been re-elected six times since then, has faced heavy criticism and sanctions from the West due to his poor monetary policy, lack of democratic freedom in the country, and mounting foreign debt.
Faced with an economic crisis and shrinking freedoms, Belarusians have been migrating en masse to Western Europe, pushing the government to adopt a pro-crypto attitude they believe will keep people in the country.