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Prime Minister Puna calls claim preposterous

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 4, 2011) – A Russian political party leader is claiming he purchased the small uninhabited northern Cook Islands bird sanctuary, Suwarrow, from the government in July.

Anton Bakov has declared Suwarrow the capital of a revitalized Russian Empire – and himself the prime minister.

Izvestia, one of Moscow’s most well-known newspapers, quotes Bakov as saying he bought Suwarrow for tens of millions of dollars from Prime Minister Henry Puna on July the 20th.

[PIR editor’s note: Suwarrow is a coral atoll approximately 1,300 kilometers northwest of Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands’ most populous islands. In spite of being declared a national park in 1978 by the government, Suwarrow was saved from commercial development by an Australian pearl farming company in 2001.]

But Puna says the claim is preposterous. Bakov, a former member of parliament, is the vice-chairman of the Federal Political Council of the Party Action. He maintains Suwarrow is woven into Russia’s history.

The island was uninhabited when a Russian ship, Suvorov, made landfall there in 1814. It was named after the ship but New Zealand later anglicized this to Suwarrow.

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