The Russian news agency Interfax news agency quotes Kasparov's advisor Marina Litvinovich, who described the events as follows: Garry Kasparov, co-chair of the Fair Elections 2008 party, was subjected to an attack on Friday night. After a meeting with youth activists in Moscow he was approached by one of the participants with a chessboard. The young man asked the 13th chess world champion for an autograph, but then suddenly went behind Kasparov and delivered a strong blow to Kasparov's head, yelling obscenities as he did os. The attacker was taken out by the people present according to Litvinovich. Kasparov suffered an acute haematoma (Russian gematoma, hemorrhage), but declined to seek immediate medical treatment.
Litvinovich added that Kasparov was meeting with the activists of youth movement in order to discuss tactics and strategy of creating a united democratic front.
Friday, April 15, 22:32h (Moscow time): NEWSru.com is reporting the incident, the first media outlet to do so in Russia. In essence they confirm what we have reported, and place the blame for the incident on a pro-Putin youth movement called "Walking Together" (Nashi), founded by Vasilii Yakemenko. The goal of this new "anti-fascist" movement is to put an end to the "anti-Fatherland union of oligarchs, anti-Semites, Nazis, and liberals." [See: Walking with Putin]. Such incidents are becoming more common in Russia today. Yakemenko has declared war on the "unnatural union of liberals and fascists, occidentophiles and ultras-nationalist, international funds and terrorists that exist today. They are united by only one thing – hatred for Putin. In this situation we will work for the support of Putin and consider those our enemies who do not share his political views". [Full NEWSru report in Russian].
Saturday, April 16, 11:00h (Moscow time): Kasparov's family have confirmed to us that the injury was not serious and that Garry in fact was at the moment attending a meeting. But of course everyone is terrified. Kasparov now has a security detail allocated to him.
Kommersant.com has reported on Kasparov's recent visit to St. Petersburg to lauch the local chapter of his party there. He and State Duma’s deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov officially announced that they would create their own party after all attempts to set up a united democratic party based on the Committee-2008 had come to a standstill.
Kasparov said his objective is to get 40 percent in the next State Duma, and to attract all political forces in order to do so:“From the radically right to the radically left, there is a political morass. Our chance to win is to take in everyone." The new party needs a 50,000-member minimum to be registered. [Full Kommersant report]
Chris Major of Mountain View, USA sent us a link to what he calls "by far the best Kasparov interview I've read. It entitled 'Kasparov's secret: great enemies' and appeared in the Australian Financial Review/Harvard Business Review – whod'a thunk? The interviewer was female, maybe that made Garry let loose?"
- Another reader named Dave sent us a link to a page describing the symptoms and effects of hematoma. We just hope and assume that in Garry's case it is not subdural.
Saturday, April 16, 14:30h (Moscow time): We spoke to a somewhat grave and subdued Kasparov on the phone, and he confirmed that our reports so far were essentially accurate. We asked him exactly what transpired – was it thugs from the Yakemenko group?
Kasparov: There was no one group that instigated this. There were a number of groups of youth activists who were gathered at the meeting.
Why were you there?
Kasparov: They were gathered to meet me. There was a dialogue between us, I was telling them about my plans, we discussed the current political situation – a normal political meeting. Maybe I was agitating them a little.
Then what happened?
Kasparov: It was quite surprising and shocking. It happened so fast that nobody could intervene. I signed the chessboard for a "fan" and then turned away to talk to another person. He was telling me about his town, and I was looking at a local paper he showed me. Anyway, I had turned my head and this guy simply attacked me.
Didn't you have security?
Kasparov: Yes, there was security, but you know what it is like when you are signing autographs. Everybody crowds around, the security people step back.
The attacker was yelling obscenities, we hear...
Kasparov: Actually his behavior was a clear indication that this was planned. It was a provocation. He was shouting: "Call the police, beat me up, I don't care..." He was obviously counting on two reactions: either we call the police and have him arrested, or we attack him. But in fact we did nothing.
So what happened to him?
Kasparov: Nothing. We got his name, since he was registered for the meeting, but we decided to do nothing. We let him go, at least for the time being.
Now you have arranged special security?
Kasparov: Yes, in the future it will have to be different. But it is difficult to run a political campaign and at the same time avoid physical contact. It is young people, they want to talk to me, tell me things, get my autograph.
And the wound, it is not so serious?
Kasparov: It's very unpleasant, it hurts, but I'm not going to stop.
What are your immediate plans? Do you have more meetings lined up?
Kasparov: There are a few meetings here in Moscow, and then in a week I am heading for the countryside...
Kasparov: No, to the countryside – rural Russia, for public events.
I understand, like to the Mid-West...
Kasparov: Yeah, exactly, but here it is the "Mid-East", it is all east of Moscow.
Well just be careful, will you.
Kasparov: Yes, obviously. Okay, I will have security, but [hums thoughfully] it is not going to be so easy.
Limonov denies his party's involvement
Saturday, 16 April, 18:35h (Moscow time): The Russian news agency Novosti reports that the leader of the National Bolshevik political party (NBP) Eduard Limonov had denied alligations that his organisation may have been behind Friday's attack on Garry Kasparov. This was the implication in an interview with Ivan Mostovich, press secretary of the Nashi youth movement, which was broadcast by the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Saturday. "I do not regard Kasparov as a major political figure, but that notwithstanding, it is wrong to assail anyone," said Limonov.
Garry Kasparov was assailed by a hoodlum during his meeting with activists of youth organizations on Friday evening. "It is very much in the NBP style," Mostovich said. "Hitting Kasparov on the head with a chess-board and dashing mineral water bottles off the presidium table during our constituent conference a day earlier are links of the same chain of hooliganism and thuggery.Such methods of settling accounts are very much in style pursued by the fascist Limonov and his hirelings," he said. Mostovich was referring to an incident on the previous day when a girl rushed to the presidium table immediately after the Russian national anthem and brushed aside everything that was there. The security guards promptly caught the trouble-maker and led her out of the conference room. It was later disclosed that the offender was a NBP activist.