mercoledì 8 febbraio 2017
Since the former Russian MP, adventurer, and entrepreneur Anton Bakov announced that he was reviving the Russian Empire by buying three remote Micronesian Islands, the world media has given him acres of coverage. But just how serious are Bakov’s intentions?......
Since the former Russian MP, adventurer, and entrepreneur Anton Bakov announced that he was reviving the Russian Empire by buying three remote Micronesian Islands, the world media has given him acres of coverage. But just how serious are Bakov’s intentions?
“Our first contacts with the government of Kiribati were a year and a half ago, now our negotiations are entering the decisive phase,” Bakov told RT by email, referring to the tiny aid-dependent Pacific nation from which he plans to purchase land. “Kiribati needs investment, it has a working democracy and a friendly people. I believe our cooperation will be mutually beneficial.”
No business plan or architectural proposal has been unveiled, but surmising from interviews given by Bakov in recent weeks, he plans to purchase – “not rent,” he tells RT – three uninhabited islands, investing $120 million into the treasury of Kiribati in return. Over the next “10 to 15 years” an investment of a further $230 million is planned, turning the islands into luxury resorts, with their own “air and sea ports, solar power stations, freshwater plants, hospitals, schools and settlements for the employees.”
“President of Kiribati Taneti Mamau is currently visiting the islands, and we are all waiting for his return,” wrote Bakov, who is himself vacationing in Kiribati.
While the islands may look close to each other on a map, in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the nearest of them, Malden Island, is about 700km south of the populated part of Kiribati, and the furthest, Caroline Island, is 1500km away. All three islands are almost entirely barren and dominated by the shrieking of millions of migratory terns, and Malden, the biggest of the three at 40 sq. km, was used by the British as the target to test the hydrogen bomb in 1956. All were inhabited by guano miners and sailors in past centuries, before being abandoned, due to their remoteness and inhospitability.
But then, none of the previous owners planned to designate the atolls as the administrative center of an empire.
“We want to become an internationally recognized state under the rule of Emperor Nicholas III. He will not be a claimant to the throne of the defunct Russian Empire, but the head of the Romanov Empire,” Bakov, who says that he would become the Archchancellor – the head of the government – of the new empire, wrote to RT.
Nicholas III is in actual fact Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen, a bona fide descendant of the Russian royal family, and a disinherited heir, who lost his turn to lead the House of Leinengen when he married a Catholic, Gabriele Renate Homey, who later divorced him and married Aga Khan IV.
The established branches of the House of Romanov, from the closest descendants of the Nicholas II, the last Tsar executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, have rejected the pretentions of Prince Karl Emich. Informed of the latest plan, a representative for the Romanovs told Moskovsky Komsomolets daily that it was a “circus” perpetuated by a “conman or mentally ill individual” that “discredited the idea of a monarchy.”
While Bakov’s interviews and social media posts provide little evidence of overt insanity, his credentials for the current undertaking do appear somewhat thin.
Bakov, 51, first rose to fame when he formed one of the Soviet Union’s first private travel agencies, prior to its collapse in 1991, and was a one-time part-owner of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, now a multi-billion dollar business.
He parlayed his financial success into a political career in his home region of the Urals, running unsuccessfully for mayor and governor several times. He was, however, elected to the State Duma in 2003, and served a four-year term.
He was also the campaign manager for multiple candidates and one of the chief ideologists for the disbanded center-right Union of Right Forces party.
Although always an Orthodox Christian activist, his conversion from secular democracy to religion-based royalism occurred around the turn of the decade, as he proclaimed the new Russian Empire in 2011, and founded the Monarchist Party the year after.
Both entities exist more on paper than in real life, though it is notable that Bakov has attempted to buy other islands in the Pacific, and a part of Montenegro for his would-be state before. He told RT that he was about to travel to the latter, to “negotiate with the new government,” after the previous attempts to establish the Russian Empire on the shores of the Adriatic Sea “ran into political disagreements.”
Even if the royalist aspect of the latest project is disregarded – Kiribati officials have insisted that it is more of a marketing hook and a distraction, and its essence is commercial development – there is little to suggest that Bakov, who has not featured in any recent wealthiest lists, has the financial wherewithal to buy and develop the islands. Of his own capital, he says only that it comes from “buying and selling land,” and he has not named any outside investors.
But despite accusations of running a “smoke-and-mirrors operation” or even “an elaborate practical joke” by the Russian media, Bakov says he is deadly serious – and says the restoration could take place before 2017 is out.
“I am hoping for the return of the Romanov dynasty in the hundredth anniversary year – perhaps even month – of its fall in October 1917,” Bakov told RT.