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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kremlin seizes Russian Chess Federation offices

Kremlin seizes Russian Chess Federation offices; no pawn pun intended

For those of you following the titillating chess scandal unfolding in Moscow, today brings new, exciting, dangerous developments.
As Carl Schrek reported in Foreign Policy this week, the Kremlin has been starting to meddle a bit in the nomination of Russia’s candidate for the presidency of the international press federation, or FIDE. Brief backstory: On May 14, the Russian Chess Federation narrowly nominated Soviet chess superstar Anatoly Karpov to be its candidate. Across town, another meeting, just shy of a quorum, renominated the zany incumbent, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
You may remember Kirsan Ilyumzhinov from such world events like running a tiny autonomous majority Buddhist Russian republic on the Caspian Sea; being friends with Saddam Hussein, Chuck Norris, and Muammar Qaddafi; being so inspired by his meeting with Pope John Paul II that he built a massive Catholic church for the republic’s one (1) Catholic; and being questioned in the Russian parliament over his 1997 tour of an alien spaceship during which Ilyumzhinov may or may not have shared sensitive state secrets with “humanoid aliens.”

Ilyumzhinov is a chess fanatic who has made chess mandatory in Kalmyk schools. As president of FIDE for the last 15 years, he introduced “speed chess,” which has taken the sport to the popsy level of speed dating.
And now that he has a serious opponent for the Russian nomination, the Kremlin is stepping up to defend him. First, Arkady Dvorkovich, the Duke-educated president’s deputy, called the nominating votes illegitimate. Then he went and seized to the offices of the Russian Chess Federation.
Today, at around 2:15 Moscow time, black suited men from the private security firm “Peper” arrived at the Federation’s offices, and presented Federation president Aleksandr Bakh with a diktat signed by Dvorkovich saying that Peper was now in charge. They then kicked out the regular security guards and sealed off some rooms in the building as a helpless Bakh called the police.
Dvorkovich, whose father was a chess arbiter, has spent the last few days saying that Ilyumzhinov is the better, more experienced candidate, and the question is, why does the Kremlin even give a shit?
It might have something to do with the uncontested election of Russian politician Alexander Zhukov to head the Russian Olympic Committee. Zhukov, an avid chessman himself, has sworn that he will make chess an Olympic sport because it is a sport that is “advantageous for Russia.” That is, it might pad Russia’s future medal counts which flopped so mightily in Vancouver. To do that, the Kremlin apparently wants its own stooge on the FIDE throne. Karpov, backed by the toxic Kremlin critic and persona non grata Garry Kasparov, probably doesn’t seem like a safe gamble.
Second, Ilyumzhinov has kept Kalmykia firmly, calmly under his rule since 1993, which is nice in a region that is becoming more and more restive and dangerous. Third, Kalmykia has some nice oil and gas, and straddles a geostrategically precious corner of the Caspian sea, potentially perfect for building a pipeline to, say, India. This could easily be a little reward for a strategically located and very loyal Ilyumzhinov.
I also can’t believe I just wrote 500 words about a chess scandal

Source : True/Slant

The invasion of the Chess Club coincided with the seizure of the Club's bank account and the official website, which quickly posted a photo and message from the same Arkady Dvorkovich. RCF Chairman Alexander Bakh (photo right), who supported Karpov, was ejected from his office. Said Bakh:
"At around 4 p.m. a member of the private security firm "Peper" presented a contract for guarding the premises of the Chess Club. Employees sealed my office, the accountant's office, and another room and placed a guard at the entrance. But according to statutes of the Federation, only the Chairman can sign such documents. Under the old regulations the president and I could. I gave a statement to the police pointing out the illegality of the security service's actions, since they did not verify the legality of the signed order."
Karpov has released his own letter in reaction to these events, and also in response to a letter Dvorkovich sent out to the world's chess federations claiming that Karpov's election on May 14 was invalid. In it, Karpov makes the point that Dvorkovich's claims about the invalidity of the RCF are only relevant to tax status.

The Central Chess Club in Moscow

Karpov's letter

Dear Colleagues,
A few days ago, Arkady Dvorkovich issued a letter to all chess federations admitting that he scheduled the Russian Chess Federation Supervisory Council meeting on May 14th. At that meeting, an open vote occurred with a quorum present electing me as the RCF’s candidate for FIDE President. In the face of the evidence I presented – the original RCF meeting announcement – Mr. Dvorkovich now appears to concede it was always supposed to take place at the Botvinnik Central Chess Club. He and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov previously falsely stated to the press that the meeting was originally scheduled for a different location.
It must be understood that Mr. Dvorkovich’s latest letter is a personal one and does not represent the will of the RCF, which openly voted against him on this issue. In his letter, he presents a new set of phony justifications to challenge the results of an election which took place in full accordance with current regulations. Mr. Dvorkovich virtually accuses himself of failing to register the NGO he was appointed to supervise. Regardless, he well knows that State registration relates only to banking and tax matters, and not the internal activities of the NGO. Moreover, Mr. Dvorkovich has repeatedly pretended to act on behalf of the Russian Chess Federation – the same RCF he now says is an illegitimate organization. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he will say anything to attack the election results regardless of consistency or accuracy. My nomination from the RCF is a matter of public record.
Mr. Dvorkovich’s position in the Russian Chess Federation was granted by the Russian Congress, the same Congress that granted Mr. Alexander Bakh his position. The difference between the two positions is that Mr. Bakh, not Mr. Dvorkovich, was assigned the right to sign documents on behalf of the Russian Chess Federation. Accordingly, Mr. Dvorkovich has no authority to act unilaterally on behalf of the Russian Chess Federation. He attempts to place himself above the law and above the elected council members, but his statements carry no power. It is worth noting that following the guidelines of President Medvedev, the Gossoviet of Russia (State Council) recently ordered senior government officials to step down from directing national sports organizations.
It is ironic that Mr. Dvorkovich libels me as pursuing the presidency of FIDE for improper purposes. I was not aware that there is significant money involved in chess at the moment. Perhaps Mr. Dvorkovich can enlighten us all about the financial dealings of FIDE and his involvement.
In attempting to overturn the formal vote of the Supervisory Council, Mr. Dvorkovich has organized a hostile takeover of the Russian Chess Federation. It began with the official website of the Federation and the seizure and of the RCF’s bank accounts. Then on May 20, three men from a private security force took over of the Central Chess Club, expelled Mr. Bakh from his office, and sealed all documents present – all with no court order or other legal justification. They carried only a paper with Mr. Dvorkovich’s signature. While Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s loss in the vote may have been embarrassing to Mr. Dvorkovich, his displeasure does not make the vote “illegitimate” or justify illegal acts by a senior governmental official. Knocking the pieces off the board when you lose does not change the result.
I won an open vote among numerous delegates across Russia and will proudly represent my country as I have for years, with dignity and integrity. I care deeply about our great game of chess, its traditions and its future. My thanks to all of my supporters. I will not let you down.
Several federations have already contacted me to discuss a distinct issue arising from Mr. Dvorkovich's letter – namely his efforts to intimidate other federations from supporting me. This is of course a profoundly disturbing action by a senior government official in the host country of the upcoming election and will no doubt be the subject of much discussion.
Source : Chessbase

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