Fraud allegation levied

The administrators of the Micronations and Royal Houses Facebook group have accused another micronationalist of potentially defrauding the community in order to gain fame and money.

Yaroslav Mar and Christian of Emden-Holstein allege that Anastasia von Elphberg, engaged in deceitful conduct, which included a history of making unverifiable claims, the use of sockpuppets, and the creation of a fictional non-governmental organization (NGO) to defraud sponsors of MicroCon.

Their allegations, outlined herein, have not been proven in a court of law.

The use of unverifiable claims and sockpuppets are rooted in the simulationist culture and history of Elphberg’s micronation, Ruritania, where she also played the character, Georg von Strofzia, who acted as foreign minister until his “death” last year.

Such use of multiple characters by one “flesh and blood” participant in a simulationist micronation is not unusual, nor is the development of a backstory for each character that may quote fictional events and achievements. Such practice became widely adopted by the Micras community in the late 2000s as the wider micronational population dwindled, making micronations less dynamic. Where used, the practice primarily supports local cultural and historical simulation to better mimic the workings of a real country. When the practice is not disclosed upfront, it has been interpreted as an indicator of deception by micronationalists, both present and past, including  simulationists.

While the accusers acknowledged Ruritania’s simulationist roots and the acceptable or tolerable use, to a degree, of fictional achievements and sockpuppetry, they suggested that Strofzia’s sockpuppet status was purposefully withheld by Elphberg over the course of years. That caused members of the micronational community to believe that Strofzia was a real person.

Months before last year’s MicroCon conference, a physical meeting of micronationalists, which Strofzia was expected by some to attend, Elphberg informed the community that he died. That Strofzia was not widely known as a sockpuppet led to an outpouring of condolences from micronationalists, it was alleged. “[She had] the audacity to receive condolences for the faked death of a person who never existed,” read the accusers’ statement, suggesting that it was an indicator of her deceitful nature.

One micronationalist, with the screen name”Hrm Richard”, suggested that the accusers were one of only a few individuals who didn’t know that Strofzia was a sockpuppet. “I am unaware of anyone … that did not know Georg was, effectively the name for an email address. … [His death] was preceded by weeks of discussions about how [Ruritania] would no longer be using the pseudonym for whomever was responding to emails that month,” he said, suggesting that Strofzia’s sockpuppet status was common fact within Ruritania’s circle of micronations.

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Elphberg’s announcement of the OMAP (supplied).

Leading up to MicroCon, in which she acted as organizer and host, Elphberg participated in the founding of the Organization of Micronations and Alternative Politics (OMAP), which she described as a YAMO meant to add believability to sponsorship letters for the event. The seriousness with which OMAP was to be taken was unclear as the use of “YAMO” generally indicates a tongue-in-cheek reference to the organization being useless; however, the accusers allege that it was to be considered an NGO, a much more serious international organization, especially in non-simulationist realms.

The creation of OMAP, the accusers allege, was “for the sake of defrauding potential sponsors of MicroCon.” Elphberg’s stated intent to use OMAP to add believability to the letters to convince sponsors to fund MicroCon is a central pillar of the allegation. That said, there is no evidence that Elphberg, in fact, crafted or sent any such sponsorship letters, with or without the OMAP name, or ever asked for money by invoking the name.

Christian acknowledged that there was no evidence of a successful fraud perpetrated by Elphberg; however, for him, the implication of her OMAP announcement was clear. “What I see in the language of her post and her past behaviour of faking citizens and their fictional deaths is disturbing behaviour which makes use feel obliged to protect the members of this group before they communicate with her or her representatives,” he said. He suggested that the letters, if sent, would have attempted to raise money for MicroCon would have reflected poorly on the wider micronational community when the sponsor learned that OMAP was not a real NGO.

Mars agreed. “We don’t claim [that] she did defraud sponsors. She did however tell the participants to present themselves as members of a fictional organization which in our opinion accounts for an attempt at doing so.”

The allegations were supported by Donald Garcia-Dwyer. “To create an organization where you’ll collect additional funds in order to be ‘believable’ is pretty fraudulent,” he said.

Their interpretation of Elphberg’s actions was, however, not supported by all.

“I am not entirely clear I understand what the problem is,” said Will Sörgel, who throughout the discussion maintained his belief that the allegation was unsupported. “You have not clarified who these sponsors are, if she [was] successful, and if she did in fact gain sponsors.”

For “Hrm Richard”, both accusers lacked standing. “I don’t recall either of you being at MicroCon but as someone who attended I assure – “fraudsters” don’t spend a great deal of their own money so others don’t have to,” he charged. “[Elphberg used] her own money to reduce or eliminate fees for the attendees.”

While a serious discussion regarding the accuracy of the allegations ensued, that discussion at times was marked by tongue-in-cheek and direct insults directed between the participants. The resulting strained personal relationships may end up being the biggest fallout of the allegations, which themselves appear unlikely to ever be tested in a court of law.

Fraud allegation levied

Diplomatic overhaul occurs in Sandus

KREMLUM SANDUS – In announcing a number of changes to its diplomatic relationships over the past number of days, Sandus has signalled the undertaking of a major foreign policy overhaul.

The significant change in direction for the micronation’s foreign policy began on July 13th when the Sôgmô, Will Sörgel, announced that Sandus would cut diplomatic ties with a number of bilateral partners while also ending its participation in the Saint Josephburg Economic Pact due to concerns over further integration.

In suspending relations with the Empire of Pavlov and the Sorrenian Federation, Sörgel cited what he described as these micronations committing infringements of Sandum diplomatic virtues. Specifically, these infringements referred to an inability to resolve ethical differences on the matter of homosexuality in the case of Pavlov, and a massive sharing of citizenship within the Sorrenian Federation which Sandus viewed as an unprofessional practice.

“With the suspension of relations with the Sorrenian Federation, Sandus has reasserted its commitment to serious and professional diplomacy …,” said Sörgel, noting that Sandus was following in the footsteps of other micronations in calling for greater professionalism in micronationalism.

Perhaps the most significant policy change came when Sandus announced a key re-engagement with Sirocco, which it had viewed as an ideological adversary since 2010. Sörgel announced that full diplomatic relations between the two micronations commenced today, marking a key step in normalizing diplomacy between the two for the first time in either’s history.

Sandus will also seek further economic and political integration with Kumano and Überstadt through a future tripartite association currently under discussion, while renewing bilateral initiatives with Landashir. Those initiatives include the relaxation of border controls, cooperation on the protection of minority rights, and the further development of local languages.

Diplomatic overhaul occurs in Sandus

Sandus reflects on active first quarter

KREMLUM SANDUS – As the first quarter of 2015 comes to a close, the State of Sandus has released an extensive report on the micronation’s social, economic and political accomplishments to date.

The report noted that Sandus has enacted several legislative policies in the first quarter of the year, ranging from authorizing agricultural initiatives to granting greater recognition to minorities. On the former, the Tellus Agrarian Cooperative will be required to account publicly for its current resources and its existing crop inventory, while undertaking consideration for planting new radish and wasabi crops this year. The latter will see the Collegio Sacerdae work toward recognizing holidays for various religious and cultural minorities in the micronation.

The ongoing consideration of the wide-ranging 2015 Economic Development Plan remains a central plank in Sandum government policy. Several initiatives within the Plan have received the approval of government leaders so far, including a commitment to pay citizens for their contributions as part of a future ‘Work Merit Rewards Program’. That program will allow citizens to use their work contributions within the micronation to offset the cost of purchasing certain products sold by the government.

While a decline was reported in charitable donations – only $47 USD has been donated by citizens this year-to-date – Sandus nonetheless remains a micronation whose population is actively involved in volunteering. The report noted that a total of eighty-four hours of volunteer work had been completed by its citizens since December 21, 2014. The government is optimistic that both the value of donations and the total volunteer time invested by the citizenry will increase as further Charity Tax declarations are filed.

The report reflected lastly on a current motion before the legislative council to strip the micronation of its unique Sancta constructed language, its third official language, in favour of adopting Latin. Proponents of the measure, which include the microantion’s founder and leader, Sôgmô Will Sörgel, believe that the use of Latin will allow Sandum to gain attention from Roman Reconstructionist communities, opening the micronation to a new source of potential participants. The report dismissed opposition to the motion as caused by “predominantly foreigners,” indicating tacitly that the adoption of Latin is inevitable.

Sandus reflects on active first quarter

Voting underway in Sandus solstice election

KREMLUM SANDUS (CS) | Ballots, which include a vote to confirm the continued rule of the absolute monarch, have now been distributed to citizens as part of the Winter Solstice Election in Sandus.

2014 Election Poster (source: Sandus.org)
2014 Election Poster (source: Sandus.org)

The ballot will seek the decision of Sandus’ nine citizens on two definitive issues: the introduction of direct democracy via a constitutional amendment; and confirmation of whether the micronation’s founder and absolute monarch (“Sôgmô”), Will Sörgel, will continue in that role. The ballot will also allow a citizen to propose petitions that he or she wishes to see considered by the government, as well as to suggest agenda items should the ‘direct democratic council’ come into existence.

Voting, which opened approximately thirty-minutes ago, will continue for ten days, until December 20, with results being published the following day.

Voting underway in Sandus solstice election

Sandus State College launches on YouTube

KREMLUN SANDUS (CS) | Foregoing the traditional websites and learning management systems that have defined micronational education, Sandus has launched its first course via YouTube.

Entitled ‘Sandus in Practice,’ the course is the first of eleven planned course offerings from the State College that aim to provide a comprehensive orientation to new citizens. Consisting of six video lectures by Sandus founder Will Sörgel, it provides an overview of the micronation’s online infrastructure while teaching the student more about how to be an active citizen. In total, the lectures run approximately 45 minutes in length.

The use of video lectures is a unique, if not revolutionary, approach in the history of micronational educational institutions, which have often relied on web pages, forums, learning management systems or a combination thereof to facilitate learning since the late 1990s.

Sandus State College launches on YouTube