Ali Nihat Yazici on the Azmaiparashvili scandal

11/7/2004 – Immediately after the FIDE VP was dragged off to the police station, the president of the Turkish chess federation burst into action. Here he gives a blow-by-blow account of his conversations with the Spanish organizers and federation officials. When he requested a lawyer for his friend Zurab he was told to look in the yellow pages!

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Another voice on the Azmai scandal

Ali Nihat Yazici is the President of the Turkish Chess Federation. We recently heard from him regarding the Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match. We still welcome your comments. Just put "Azmaiparashvili" into the subject line on our feedback page.

Dear Friends,

What happened in Calvia after the closing ceremony was a clear scandal. This should not be forgotten in the history of chess. First of all, let me inform you more by giving some extra information about the case in Calvia. I am summarising the conversations as much as possible. It is a brief of that very bad night of my life.

I had just left the exit of the Casino in Calvia after the closing ceremony. It was before the fireworks, probably around 7:30 pm. Then I saw GM Baadur Jobava and GM Izoria Zviad from Georgia crying outside. As a good friend I asked them what was the problem. They told me that Zurab Azmaiparashvili had been beaten very badly and arrested by police and had been taken away in handcuffs.

After learning the situation, I returned back to the Casino and went to the main hall and there were some people there, including Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (FIDE President), Javier Ochoa (President of the Spanish Chess Federation), Boris Kutin (President of ECU), Ignatius Leong (Chief arbiter and vice president of FIDE). Naturally Boris and Ignatius were protesting what happened to Zurab. And I joined them and strongly protested what happened to Zurab. I asked Ochoa if he could help Zurab and save him from custody. He answered that he could not do anything.

Then understanding that this was losing time, I went to the Press Room as I was a journalist. I announced there what happened and asked the journalists to react as responsible chess people. I found there Allen Herbert from Barbados as an eye-witness of the situation. Then the coach of the USA women's team and a player of the same. They were all witnesses that Zurab did not hit anyone and did not attack anyone, their testimonies were very clear that Zurab was attacked by Spanish Body Guards in the Casino first.


FIDE deputy president Makropulos, US women's team captain Paul Truong (with mic).

Then in a few minutes organisers and FIDE people were there. The first release was given by Antonio Rami (Chief Organiser). He had mentioned that Zurab Azmaiparashvili had been creating problems from the start till the end of the Olympiad. He also had mentioned that after Zurab's first and the second attempt to approach the stage to correct the name of Trophy, they alerted the police at the closing ceremony to be careful with him. According to Rami, then Zurab tried a third time and attacked one policeman and they defended themselves and arrested him. After he had finished the Chief police officer gave a statement and said the same.

And then FIDE Deputy President Makropoulos answered this statement and criticized the organiser for not doing anything. After all these statements, I understood that the organisers would not move their fingers to save Zurab. I also felt that Zurab was having a very bad time in the place they had taken him. I called and yelled at the people in the press room to find a lawyer as soon as possible. I asked to Mr. Antonio Rami, in front of everyone, to help the situation. He did not give a positive answer. Then I went to Ochoa.


On the record: Ochoa, Leong, Yazici

The conversation between Ochoa and me was as follows: 'Javier, you are a chess person. I do not believe that Zurab is guilty. But even he is guilty, as organiser and chess person you have to help him. Since he is a chess person, because we are friends, you have to do something for him. Please call your sports minister. If this happened in my country (it would never happen) I would get the person released in a few minutes maximum. Since I am a chess person and it is a sport.' I asked Ochoa again 'I pray to you, please try to help!'

He answered me saying 'I can not do anything, Ali'. I asked him again 'Ochoa, then maybe you may find some lawyer for us who we can trust. He/she can help the situation. FIDE can take care of the cost. Please help find one.' He answered that 'I do not know any lawyers, but you may find one in the yellow pages'. I asked him again 'so find it your yellow pages because they are in Spanish and I can not read it.' Then he asked the ladies of the press room for a phone book. Their answer was that they did not have one. Then after some minutes, Ochoa came to me and gave me a phone book with yellow pages. It was all in Spanish. I told him again that I cannot read or understand it.

Then I went to Rami and I had a one-to-one conversation with him alone. 'Antoni, listen to me, you finished an Olympiad, your aim was to promote Calvia and Mallorca. You spent millions of Euros you say for this aim. Now it failed. But still you have chance to turn the situation into something positive. Why do you not help Zurab? Call the Mayor, call local authorities, call someone from the Security Ministery. Try to avoid this scandal. Your personal feelings against Zurab are not important, as organiser you have to help! Otherwise, believe me nobody will come again to Mallorca as chess people or tourists'.

He answered me as follows: 'Ali, I do not want to help him. I wish that he is already out of this island as soon as possible. But I cannot help him.'

Why I am telling all these things is very simple. After I left the island the next morning Spanish people claimed to FIDE that they gave me a list of lawyers to help. This is not true.

1. This is a very clear humiliation and unfair to our exclusive sport. Chess is an intellectual sport over all the world. It would also be a scandal if it happened in football, in wrestling or in any sport. But it happened to us. Therefore, we have to react! We cannot accept this. We cannot tolerate this. We cannot understand this. Zurab is one of my best friends for years; I know his hot blood and honesty. He cannot keep his feelings inside. I would do exactly the same if I were in his position. He tried to defend the name of the Gaprindashvili Trophy, which is not only important for Georgia, but also very important for the chess world. Let me tell you that Zurab is a tall, big, strong guy but he cannot insult any person. In his body he has a real gentlemanly spirit and a very big heart.

2. Also we should not forget the official press release made by Chief Organiser Antonio Rami in the press room at around 21:00. Mr. Ramis has mentioned that after the first and the second attempt of Zurab to warn the speaker about the name of the Trophy, 'they alerted the Police on stage' or 'the Police had been alarmed!'. I am sure ChessBase correspondent Frederic Friedel was recording this statement and has video material. Therefore, it is very clear that the police were consciously paying attention to Zurab. It means that Zurab was under the attention of the police and when he tried to attempt to correct this mistake and communicate with the FIDE President, he was taken down.

3. We should not forget that Zurab's position was VIP there. But even if this happened to an amateur or any normal guest, it would be a humiliation for the image of chess. If today an organiser may not provide enough security to a VIP, if they cannot even prevent their security from harming the person, we have to seriously think about this.

4. We have to ask ourselves about the image of chess, after this case, as public opinion, over all the world. We have to take action, everyone should react! Also FIDE has to do something officially, a lot more than asking for public excuses to protect the image of chess. This kind of humiliation to chess and to chess people should never be practised again in the future. We do not desire this! Zurab does not desire this!

5. I hope that Zurab will be okay after what happened. Not only FIDE but all international chess bodies should take some action against this scandal.

Ali Nihat YAZICI
President of Turkish Chess Federation
Turkish Delegate in Calvia

 


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