Gambia denies deal for land 'to revive Russian empire'
The West African state of The Gambia has angrily denied claims it reached a deal with monarchist Russian politician Anton Bakov, who is seeking land in an oddball scheme to revive the Romanov Empire.
Bakov last month presented himself as "Arch Chancellor Prince... Prime Minister (and) Serene Highness of the Romanov Empire" in a meeting where he pitched his project, the Gambian presidency said in a statement released on Tuesday.
He later declared that his scheme -- which entailed the building of a city called St. Nicholas on an artificial island -- had been accepted by The Gambia, the presidency said.
But a document purportedly signed by the head of the civil service to support this claim was "false and faked," it said bluntly.
A politician and businessman, Bakov currently heads the Monarchist Party in Russia, which he founded in 2012.
He has announced an intention to run for president of Russia in next year's elections, but it is unclear if he has the necessary backing to do so.
Bakov has previously tried to establish a successor state to the Romanov dynasty in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, according to press reports. He is not known to have any ancestral ties to the imperial family, which fell in the bloody 1917 revolution.
"The Office of the President informs the general public that it has not signed any memorandum of understanding [MOU] with Romanov Empire represented by Arch Chancellor Prince Anton Bakov," the Gambian statement said.
Bakov "presented a draft MOU dated 13th November 2017 for the government to consider," the statement added, and the president referred the matter to the ministry of justice "for legal advice".
But the government decided against the idea as the Romanov Empire "does not have a permanent population, a defined territory, government and has no capacity to enter into relations with another state," it noted.
The plans laid out promises for a "smart city" and $60 million worth of investment on 10 sq km (3.4 sq miles) of land on an artificial island off the coast of the tiny west African nation.
The businessman then held a press conference in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on December 6 announcing that the government had backed the project.
"The Gambia government wants genuine investments in the country, it is aware of dubious individuals and companies who would want to exploit the New Gambia for scam projects," the Gambian presidency said.