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 revitalised Russian Empire - and himself the prime minister.
Izvestia, one of Moscow's most well-known newspapers, quotes Mr Bakov as saying he bought Suwarrow for tens of millions of dollars from Prime Minister Henry Puna on July the 20th.
But Mr Puna says the claim is preposterous.
Mr Bakov, a former MP in the Russian Duma, is 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 anglicised this to Suwarrow.