The Lethler Experiment refers to a covert operation carried out between October 2008 and July 2010 to influence the development of the early MicroWiki community. A persona known as Robert Lethler, supposedly the leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Erusia, arose to position of prominence in the community by promoting the development of the Grand Unified Micronational as a community-wide organisation, whilst also using the account "Ptrcancer" to become a MicroWiki Administrator. Numerous events were instigated by Lethler and Erusia during this time period in order to deliberately shape the community, such as the New Euro-Erusian War. The conspiracy was exposed by the A1 Civil Security Service in a now-infamous dossier, leading to the collapse of the GUM (and its replacement by the Organisation of Active Micronations) and the departure of Lethler from the community. Lethler would continue to quietly observe the community for at least another two years, occasionally returning, most notably in late 2011 to help prepare the Yablokogate dossier which resulted in the collapse of the OAM and the return of the GUM.
Lethler has stated that the purpose of the experiment was to guide the development of the MicroWiki community in a more serious and professional direction. Prior to joining MicroWiki, the individual behind Lethler was active in the micronations.net community (the primary online Anglophone micronational community prior to MicroWiki, from 2002 to 2008), presumably under a different identity. In October 2008, micronations.net suffered a technical failure which resulted in the corruption of the wiki attached to it. Lethler correctly assumed that users would migrate to MicroWiki (at that time in a state of disarray) and saw this as an opportunity to influence a new community. Lethler has claimed to have been working with co-conspirators on Erusia, and in private even claimed to be part of a secret organisation dedicated to promoting micronational professionalism by covert means. However, there is little evidence for this, and it is generally accepted that one individual was behind all of the Erusian personas, as the A1CSS dossier suggests.
The Lethler Experiment has had a lasting impact on the MicroWiki community to this day, particularly due to the enduring presence of the GUM as the community's premier organisation. Many Lethler-era titles and conventions continue to survive in the organisation. Robert Lethler remains a mysterious and controversial figure who is still talked about by micronationalists, and a number of micronational journalists and intelligence agencies have investigated the affair. The experiment is widely regarded as one of the most elaborate micronational conspiracies ever.
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The People's Republic of Viorata appears to have been a prototype for the later Lethlerian micronations. The site newbritain.wikidot.com was set up on 25 August 2008 with "Ptrcancer" as its sole user and master administrator. The site entirely focusses on Viorata, which like all Lethlerian micronations is socialist in nature. The only surviving records of this project include its constitution, basic government structure, its governing coalition, and details of the country's Communist Party.
The country's constitution was supposedly adopted on 1 August 2008. It is described as being a merger of the Kingdom of Licentia, the Socialist Republic of Licentia, the Democratic People's Republic of Bzan, the Democratic People's Republic of Veritalia and the Democratic People's Republic of Parilita. It describes its founders as being Peter Gaffney, Geraint Rennie, Michelle Yui and - perhaps most interestingly - one Robert Lefler. Viorata was supposedly governed by the People's National Political Front, consisting of a Communist Party, a National Party and a Democratic Party. The members of Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party were supposedly John Dixon (President and General Secretary of the Communist Party), Geraint Rennie (Vice-President and Chairperson of the National People's Legislative Commission), Sofia Summers (Premier of the Central Administrative Committee), Colum McKenna (Information Officer), and Robert Lefler (Supreme Judge of the People's National Justice Authority).
Although the names of the constituent nations and leading politicians in Viorata would later be recycled, Viorata itself does not appear anywhere on MicroWiki, which leads to the hypothesis that it was an early prototype by Lethler prior to his decision to focus on MicroWiki. It could even be speculated that Viorata was part of an attempt to influence the micronations.net community, which at that point had not yet collapsed.
The first recorded edit to MicroWiki made by Ptrcancer was on 23 October 2008 when they created an article on the United Royal Kingdom of Licentia and Bzan. The first version of this article stated that it was the fourth nation of "Licentian origins", following the Kingdom of Licentia, the Democratic People's Republic of Bzan and the Socialist Republic of Licentia; the number of predecessor states would be increased to seven the following day, now including the Principality of Payon, the Principality of Kalin and the Principality of Skia. The first iteration of Licentia was supposedly founded in early 2007 by Peter Gaffney. King Colum II was identified as the nation's monarch, with Robert Lethler serving as Prime Minister (note the change of spelling from Lefler to Lethler).
On 29 October, the Licentia article was edited to state that the nation had ceased to exist the previous day. It is unclear whether Licentia was meant to be another prototype like Viorata, or whether it was meant to lay the groundwork for Erusia by fleshing out the fictional sector within which Erusia would exist. However, Licentia would re-emerge on 7 February 2009 as a constituent of the Union of Socialist Micronational Republics alongside Erusia.