"You Have To Ask Yeltsin." How Kirsan Ilyumzhinov Became the FIDE President

Время публикации: 30.09.2015 22:19 | Последнее обновление: 01.10.2015 23:02

Below you can find a translated extract from a radio program aired on Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) which had Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as a guest. In it, Mr. Ilyumzhinov shares the story of his appointment as the FIDE President. According to him, he was appointed thanks to Boris Yeltsin (the first President of Russia). 

"The Russian Chess Federation was against my candidacy, - Ilyumzhinov says. - The fifth FIDE President, Florencio Campomanes, nominated me at the FIDE General Assembly held in Paris on November 24, 1995. I decided to consult Shamil Tarpischev, the Russian Minister of Sports back then, who was also heading the Sports Committee of Russia." According to Mr. Ilyumzhinov, then he was redirected to Andrei Makarov who was heading the Russian Chess Federation, and the latter told Ilyumzhinov to ask Garry Kasparov. Kasparov had great influence upon the RCF back then, Mr. Ilyumzhinov recalls.

"I called Kasparov," - Ilyumzhinov continues. [...] "Why are you running for the FIDE president?", Garik asked me. I said: "Garik, that is so great! FIDE never had a Russian president. Imagine how many things we could do together." Kasparov: "No, if you run for the president you will cheat on me..." "How come I will cheat on you? Let's unite!", I said.

Why was Garik against the idea? Because he has created the GMA (Grandmaster Association) in the US in 1993 together with Bessel Kok. He wanted it to take over FIDE, so that the latter would cease to exist.

Then I called Viktor Ilyushin, who was senior assistant for Boris Nikolaevich [Yeltsin - CN]. "You have to ask Boris Nikolaevich - he is the decision-maker," he told me. He [Boris Yeltsin - CN] was ill, spending time in [his residence in] Barvikha. Ilyushin told Boris Nikolaevich about the situation and Boris Nikolaevich asked him where I was, etc... So, Eltsin said: "It is good, Russia needs it. Put the Russian flag on the top of it!" And then, maybe I went against all of my friends indeed, but I still satisfied the request, or rather the suggestion, from the Russian President. After that, I visited Boris Nikolaevich and presented him a chess set. He set up the pieces and said: 'Well, I know how to move the horse.' We agreed on a draw." 

* * *

At another point of the program, Ilyumzhinov was asked by one of the presenters:

- Is chess also politics?
- Of course,-  Ilyumzhinov replied. - In our life, everything is politics. If you don't do politics, politics does you.


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