Ilyumzhinov resigns as President of Kalmykia

9/7/2010 – We informed our readers in a July report that this could happen. Now Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has, in his own words, "requested not to be considered for another term as head of the Republic of Kalmykia" – where he has served as President since 1993. From now on he wants to devote his attention fully to FIDE, which he has served since 1995. Statements and press reports.

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Kirsan Requests Not to be Nominated as President of Kalmykia To Focus On FIDE

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the President of Kalmykia since 1993, has requested not to be considered for another term as head of the republic. Ilyumzhinov intends to focus solely on developing chess around the world as President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

“I served as President of Kalmykia for a very long time. Now I hope to apply my 20 years of political and government experience as well as my connections and friendship with heads of state and regional governments to the efforts of making chess more popular and a successful game,” said Ilyumzhinov in an interview.

Russian and western media discuss Ilyumzhinov’s resignation and acknowledge that it’s quite rare in Russia for a top politician to walk away from his post.

“I made this decision because I realize that promoting and developing chess around the world is a full-time job and it requires all of my attention. At the moment we are implementing such important programs as ‘chess in the school curriculum’ ,“ said Ilyumzhinov, adding, “I remember that my predecessor, 5th FIDE President Florencio Campomanes, asked me to run for FIDE President back in 1995, in Paris. It was then that he told me that chess was his life, that he lives and breathes chess and that if I felt the same way, that I would love this job too. I thought it over and agreed. Thinking back on this now, it is not even a hard decision to leave politics. I am extremely happy to be able to spend my time promoting and developing this great game.”

Source: Ilyumzhinov campaign site


Statement of the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

There is also a very critical statement by Ilyumzhinov on the campaign site. It accuses the rival candidates, ex-World Champion Anatoly Karpov and his team of politicising the election and, interestingly, using anti-democratic tactics. Excerpts:

Unfortunately, from the very start, the electoral campaign of Anatoly Karpov and leaders of his headquarters Garry Kasparov and Richard Conn, has become a political confrontation. From the very beginning their actions have been destructive, aimed at the schism of the chess world and National Federations to serve their political ambitions, which have nothing to do with chess life.

Such destructive tactics, where “any means to an end”, is used by A. Karpov, G. Kasparov and R. Conn in many countries of the world, including those which officially and openly expressed their support at the forthcoming elections. ... This looks particularly strange, considering the fact that G. Kasparov feels that he is an adherent of democratic principles.

For the record, as a Russian citizen, it is not pleasant for me to see and read some interviews of G. Kasparov to foreign media, where he is expressing open aggression towards the country and its leader. Here we mean the country which has provided Mr. Kasparov with shelter and protection during his difficult moments, and which has contributed immensely to his personality growth and professional success.

Full statement on the Ilyumzhinov campaign site


Eccentric Russian regional strongman to step down
A Russian regional leader who claims to have visited an alien spaceship says he is retiring. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov told Interfax agency Monday that will step down after his term expires in October. Since 1993, Ilyumzhinov has headed the predominantly Buddhist southern province of Kalmykia. The arid, impoverished area is dominated by Mongol-speaking Kalmyks. Ilyumzhinov has also been president of FIDE, the International Chess Federation governing body, since 1995. Aside from the spaceship claim, Ilyumzhinov says he uses hypnosis in daily communication and consults clairvoyants in his business affairs. Rights activists have accused him of cronyism, corruption, rights abuses and squandering government funds on chess championships and Buddhist temples.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov Resigns as President of Kalmykia

Kirsan Ilyuzmhinov, the president of the World Chess Federation, who is running for re-election as head of the organization, has announced that he is resigning as president of Kalmykia, a Russian republic on the Caspian Sea. Ilyumzhinov is 48 and has been president of Kalmykia since 1993.

Ilyumzhinov said that he made the decision voluntarily so he could devote more time to promoting chess. Nevertheless, in recent months the Kremlin has been cleaning house – forcing many long-time leaders of Russian republics to step down at the end of their terms. The Russian central government appoints the presidents of the republics and they serve at the discretion of the Kremlin. Ilyzumzhinov’s term in office was due to expire next month.

Though the Kremlin has never said anything about whether Ilyzumzhinov would be reappointed, it is possible that his penchant for talking about his abduction by aliens, which he has mentioned many times, as well as the mysterious source of his wealth and the impoverished state of Kalmykia finally weighed too heavily on him politically.

Now that he will no longer be president of Kalmykia, all of Ilyumzhinov’s eggs are in one basket: winning re-election to FIDE. He has been president of the federation since 1995. The election is supposed to be Sept. 29 during the biennial Chess Olympiad, which this year is in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia. But the election may not happen. Karpov, along with five national federations, have filed a lawsuit with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, seeking to have Ilyzumzhinov’s election ticket disqualified.

The lawsuit alleges that Ilyumzhinov and one member of his slate, Beatriz Marinello, are not members of the national federations that nominated them – as required by FIDE’s rules. Ilyumzhinov was supposedly nominated by Russia (though Karpov, who is also Russian, disputes this), Argentina and Mexico.

Yesterday, Chessbase, a chess news Web site, (which has been attacked by Ilyumzhinov’s campaign as biased) reported that an Argentinian government official has said that Ilyumzhinov is not a member of the federation. Karpov is also claiming that Argentina’s federation is now supporting him and has withdrawn its support for Ilyumzhinov. The arbitration court is holding a hearing on the lawsuit on Sept. 15 and 16.

Ilyumzhinov claims that he has the support of 93 federations, which is more than enough to be re-elected. (Each federation gets one vote and there are about 165 voting members.) Of course, Russia and Argentina are among the countries that Ilyumzhinov is saying support him, and Karpov is saying that they will vote for him, so the situation is clearly fluid.

Source: New York Times (in the meantime the article has been edited slightly)

Kalmyk endgame
Ilyumzhinov admits that Medvedev may not reappoint him. “It’s been a long time already, it’s quite possible I’ll be leaving,” he told RBC. The paper also spoke with Alexander Ledzhinov, who was a colleague of the Kalmykian opposition journalist Larisa Yudina, killed in 1998 with former Ilyumzhinov aides jailed for the murder. As for Ilyumzhinov, there were rumors several months ago that he would be offered a post in the Russian Ministry of Agriculture. But he says he will not leave Kalmykia. Since so much of Ilyumzhinov’s personal financial dealings are directly connected with the finances and authority of Kalmykia after 17 years in absolute power there, it will take time to clean house.

Kalmykia Leader to Quit
Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said Monday that he would not seek reappointment after his fourth presidential term expires in October, Interfax reported. Ilyumzhinov cited President Dmitry Medvedev’s policy of rotating regional leaders as the reason for his decision and said he would support any successor put forth by Medvedev and the ruling United Russia party. United Russia did not name any possible candidates Monday. Ilyumzhinov, who has led the Buddhist republic since 1993, said he would try to organize a visit by the Dalai Lama and hoped to continue as the president of the International Chess Federation. He is running for re-election in the chess federation later this month.

Kalmyk president to step down
Kalmyk President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov plans to step down after his current term expires next month. Ilyumzhinov, who has headed his Volga republic for almost 17 years, is foursquare behind President Dmitry Medvedev's drive to bring new blood into the regional leadership. He says he will stay in the republic, where he is going to organize the visit of the Dalai Lama and continue in his capacity of president of the International Chess Federation. The past year has seen the departure of several veteran governors some of whom had ruled their regions since 1991.

Voices from Kalmykia

For all the attention devoted to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as FIDE President, his role as Head of the Republic of Kalmykia remains more of a mystery. Daria Aslamova’s recent two-part report offered a fascinating glimpse into everyday life in the small steppe republic. Daria is one of Russia’s more colourful journalists. She catapulted to fame after writing a kiss-and-tell memoir on her encounters with the political establishment, but since then has reported from war zones (an English journalist described her “lively dispatches of the Moll-Flanders-goes-to-war variety”) and has recently been writing in-depth reports from the edges of Europe for the most popular Russian daily newspaper, “Komsomolskaya Pravda”. The original report from Kalmykia can be found here: part one, part two. An English summary is to be found at Chess in Translation.

All ChessBase reports on the FIDE Elections 2010


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