SHAFAQNA – While rumors and investigations of Russian tampering in the US elections abound, the revival of a now-defunct Russian royal dynasty had been in the works. A hundred years after the coup d’etat which saw the storied Romanov empire overthrown, one man was determined to bring it back.
Alas, it was not to be. The nation he chose for his venture rejected his plans. But before his proposal was refused, Anton Alekseyevich Bakov, founder and chairman of the Russian Monarchist Party, planned to recreate the Romanov Empire in the Republic of Kiribati as a sort of “alternative Russia.” Located on the uninhabited islands of Malden, Starbuck and Caroline – more famously known as the Millennium Islands – Bakov was in negotiations to transform part of the Central Pacific into a revived Russian Empire.
The Russian millionaire was planning to invest 350 million dollars in Kiribati’s economy, which would have made it the largest investment to have ever taken place in the tiny republic’s history. “The world still has a lot of barbarism and nationalism. And my experience in diplomacy is very small. Herewith, we have offers from three other UN member states. Of course, Kiribati is at the top of the list,” Bakov recently told Sputnik News.
Formerly known as the Gilbert Islands before they secured their independence from the UK in 1979, the tiny Kiribati nation lies both above and below the equator, and measures to just 310 miles. However, due to its 33 atolls, Kiribati spans 1, 351, 000 miles across the central Pacific Ocean. It is the only country in the world which is situated in all four hemispheres.
Founded in 2011, The Imperial Throne – a pre-cursor to the revived Romanov Empire – was conceived as a micro-nation without any national territory whatsoever. It has two employees – self-designated Archchancellor Anton Bakov, and his partner, Ilya Bakov, the Minister of Investments. Anton Bakhov’s Linked-In profile lists him as being the Archchancellor of the Romanov Empire since March 2015. Despite his grandiose plans to re-articulate a glorious past, the Romanov Empire only has five Linked-In followers, two of whom are Anton and Ilya Bakov.
The “official page” of the Romanov Empire boasts, “Thousands of wealthy people each year reject their US or EU citizenship in order not to pay the disproportionately overcharged price for the inefficiency of the state. This is the Holy Roman Empire for the 21st century. We re-invent sovereignty for the benefit of developing states and modern aristocrats.”
If you thought all the Romanov’s were dead and had been killed during the Bolshevik Revolution, well, you’d be wrong. The current heir-apparent to the Romanov Empire was designated Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen in 1991, but was disinherited by his family for choosing his own spouse – a decision which the family rejected as not being up to the standards of their own aristocratic heritage. The strain proved too much for the marriage and Prince Karl’s wife, Dr. Gabriele Renate Thyssen, would eventually run off, convert to Islam and marry the fourth Aga Khan, becoming Begum Inaara Khan in the process.
In 2013, Bakov’s Monarchist Party proclaimed the 64-year-old, thrice-married Karl Emich as primary heir to the defunct Russian dynasty after he converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity from German Lutheranism. The following year, the party announced that the dethroned prince, who had now been renamed Nikolai Kirillovich, had been proclaimed Nicholas III of the revived Imperial Throne.
Prince Karl Emich’s claim to the throne is through his grandmother Duchess Maria Kirillovna (1907-1951), the oldest child of Grand Duke Kirill Vladomirovich, who put in his own claim to the throne in 1924. He is also the great-great-grandson of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, or Nikolai II, who was the last Tsar of Russia before being forced to abdicate in 1917, a year before he and his entire family was shot in the woods by firing squad. Later, Nikolai Romanov and his family would be canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church, both inside and outside Russia.
The Romanov Empire ruled Russia from 1613 when an assembly of the empire elected Mikhail Romanov to be Tsar of Russia until the Socialist Revolution in February 1917 dispensed with the crown. Since then, there have been a number of claimants and crackpots eager to inherit the Imperial Throne, including the imposter Anna Anderson (1896-1984), who claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia, daughter of the last tsar, Nikolai II and to have survived the 1918 massacre of her family. Eventually, the sad truth was revealed – she was a mentally ill Polish factory worker. Decades later, the remains of the Romanovs would be discovered in 2007 and buried in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersberg.
Another claimant is Maria Vladimirovna, great-great-granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II, and the self-styled “Grand Duchess of Russia,” who has been head of the Imperial Russian Family of the Emperors and Autocrats of All the Russias since 1992. Although her claim to the throne is disputed, her claim has been validated by the Russian Orthodox Church.
Despite other movements to restore the monarchy, and Maria Vladimirovna’s desire to rule it, Anton Bakov was a bit more impatient to recreate the Romanov Empire, even if he had to relocate his beloved pre-communist Russia to the Central Pacific. Only time will tell where he will point his compass next, and what will be the final fate of the Romanov Empire.
By Kawther Rahmani exclusively for Shafaqna