Breaking news: Men in black seize Russian Chess Federation

by ChessBase
5/21/2010 – Last week the RCF nominated Anatoly Karpov as their candidate for the Presidency of FIDE. This was verbally contested by the supporters of incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Today black suited men from the private security firm “Peper” arrived at the Federation’s offices, kicked out the regular security guards and sealed off some rooms in the building. Report in True/Slant + Karpov's reaction.

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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 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.

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.

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.

  • Full article here – "I can’t believe I just wrote 500 words about a chess scandal", author Julia Ioffe concludes.

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.

ChessBase reports on the 2010 FIDE Elections

Karpov on his FIDE presidential campaign
13.03.2010 – Yesterday the twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov announced that he was running for FIDE President. Today he addressed the extraordinary meeting of the European Chess Union (ECU), which was meeting during the European Individual Championship in Rijeka. Karpov had hash words for the current FIDE leadership and outlined his own program for change in FIDE. Video interview by Europe Echecs.

Karpov to run for FIDE President
13.03.2010 – Fifteen years ago Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov was elected President of the World Chess Organisation. At the next election during the General Assembly of the FIDE Congress, which will be held during the 39th Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk in September this year, he faces a challenge by former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Press release.

Video report: Yazici and Danailov running for ECU President
14.03.2010 – So far two candidates have declared their intention to run for President of the European Chess Union: the President of the Turkish Chess Federation Ali Nihat Yazici, and the Bulgarian IM and manager Silvio Danailov. GM Robert Fontaine from Europe Echecs spoke to both candidates. Danailov also revealed that at the World Championship match against Anand Topalov will not accept or offer draws.

FIDE Elections: Turkish Chess Federation supports Ilyumzhinov
25.03.2010 – During the 39th Chess Olympiad, which takes place in September in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, the elections for FIDE President will be held. Two candidates are running: the incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov seeking reelection, and a challenger, the twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov. The Turkish Chess Federation has announced its support for the former. Press release.

FIDE Elections: Support for Ilyumzhinov
26.03.2010 – Two days ago we published a statement by the Turkish Chess Federation supporting the candidacy of the President of FIDE Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is seeking re-election, during the General Assembly in Khanty-Mansiysk this September, for the term 2010-2014. Four FIDE Continental Presidents have joined the TCF in declaring support for the incumbent. Public statements.

German Chess Federation nominates Karpov for FIDE Presidency
12.04.2010 – One month ago Anatoly Karpov announced his candidacy for President of the World Chess Federation (elections in September). The former World Champion was nominated by the French and Swiss Federations. Now the President of the German Chess Federation, Robert von Weizsäcker, has come forward with a nomination and unanimous support. Press release and information.

FIDE Elections: Karpov's mission statement
15.04.2010 – "After a lifetime dedicated to playing and promoting the game of chess, 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov is running for the office of President of the International Chess Federation." This is the beginning of a formal announcement, released by Karpov's New York campaign headquarters. It outlines the main goals and themes of the campaign and is available in Russian, English and Spanish.

Russian Chess Fed nominates Ilyumzhinov – sort of
22.04.2010 – A candidate for FIDE Presidency needs the nomination of his Federation, and the Russian Chess Federation has announced its support for the incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Does that end rival Anatoly Karpov's chances for the post, as one commentator suggests? Not quite. The nomination appears to have conditions, and Karpov has struck back with a fighting statement on his new campaign site.

David Kaplan's revolution in chess
04.05.2010 – 200-300 million people play chess, one million in a professional environment – but the interest is not increasing. David Kaplan, CEO for Development in FIDE, wants to change that, amongst other things with $64 million as prizes for online chess. If he doesn't succeed in rebranding chess in the next five years, the Israeli business tycoon says, no one will for the next fifty. Interview.

FIDE Election: Yazici to Karpov – show me the facts
06.05.2010 – Recently Anatoly Karpov, candidate for the Presidency of FIDE, suggested that the incumbent President had yet to receive official support from any major chess federation. Wrong, says Ali Nihat Yazici, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had received support from his, the Turkish Chess Federation. Meanwhile Ilyumzhinov has moved into the international news spotlight with a story of alien abduction.

FIDE Elections: the match for FIDE President heats up
08.05.2010 – After publishing an interview with FIDE’s Development CEO David Kaplan, we were contacted by Karpov’s campaign headquarters in New York. They responded to some of Kaplan’s statements and presented the case for change in FIDE. They are also preparing a fundraiser in New York with two former world champions and a near certain future one. Can you guess who?

Breaking news: Karpov nominated by Russian Chess Federation
14.05.2010 – Three weeks ago the chairman of the supervisory board of RCF, Arkady Dvorkovich, stated that the Federation had nominated incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as its candidate for FIDE presidency. A quick response by rival Anatoly Karpov said this was a unilateral decision by an Ilyumzhinov ally, not the formal vote that was required. That took place today and nominated Karpov. Details.

Ilyumzhinov: 'I will run for FIDE President once again'
16.05.2010 – On Friday we reported that the Russian Chess Federation had nominated Anatoly Karpov as its candidate for FIDE Presidency by a quorum vote of 17/32. The incumbent, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said that this "decision" was shrouded in clear deceit – "it makes a mockery of Karpov and his team, who believe they are capable of running a future FIDE." Open letter.

Big Karpov fund-raiser in New York
18.05.2010 – Karpov, Kasparov and Carlsen – two former and one very likely future world champion – took part in a launch party and fundraiser in the spectacular Trump SoHo Hotel in New York. It is for Karpov's bid to become President of FIDE. There were chess games as well as entertainment and champagne, which introduced a slight complication in the festivities. Pictures and video.

Fundraiser in New York – echo in the press
19.05.2010 – A one-night binge in the Trump SoHo Hotel brought chess into the highlights of the international press. Karpov, Kasparov and Carlsen [memo: he must change that to Karlsen!] generated a large number of international reports, almost outshining the World Chess Championship in Sofia. Not unexpectedly the stories reflect the challenger's side of the ticket. Press links.

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