Dubov: "The only way to change anything in Russia is a revolution"

by ChessBase
3/31/2022 – Vladimir Putin uses athletes for his propaganda. But Russian chess grandmaster Daniil Dubov is standing up to the Russian leader and the war in Ukraine. In an interview with Europe's premier news magazine, the 25-year-old explains why he is willing to take that risk. "Nuclear war could break out and I could miss the end of the world while analysing the Italian opening." | Photo: Jacek Prondzynski/Newspix/Imago

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The interview was conducted by Florian Pütz and posted on Sunday on the SPIEGEL news page. It has thankfully been translated into English and is not behind a paywall. This is what Daniil Dubov said:

  • "You probably think that Russia is a bad country and we are bad people. But there is a large number of people who share the same values as you do in Europe." When the military actions started they were just shocked. 44 Russian chess players published a letter opposing military action on the territory of Ukraine. Daniil confirms that it was partially written by him, "but it came about through teamwork. If it gets me in trouble, so be it." He does not consider himself a political opponent of Putin — he simply loves his country and criticises things because he has the right to do so.
  • On the course of the war, Daniil thinks it cannot get any worse for Russia. The consequences will be long and unpleasant, no matter where the conflict will go. He tells his friends that he is Russian, but against what is happening.
  • He can feel the West's sanctions against Russia, but can live with them. He was unable to receive his prize money for the first Grand Prix tournament in February because of the problems with banking transactions.
  • He was not fully concentrated and motivated when playing in the Berlin Grand Prix. He is depressed, and finds it hard to prepare for games when one has to skim the news every three minutes.

Daniil Dubov, 25, is one of the best Russian chess grandmasters. In 2018, he won the World Rapid Chess Championship. Because of his creative style of play, world champion Magnus Carlsen brought him onto his team as a second. Dubov lives in Moscow. | Photo: ANTON VAGANOV / REUTERS

  • About moving the 2022 Olympiad from Moscow to Chennai, India he thinks that FIDE had to make the decision. And if an opponent refuses to play against him because he is Russian, he would understand their decision.
  • About Sergey Karjakin, who has been supporting Putin and Russian propaganda, it is shameful. "I'm pretty sure Karjakin is doing this mainly for his own benefit, to pursue a political career. Maybe because he thinks it's right, maybe because he thinks it's useful, most likely a bit of both."
  • On FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich speaking out against the war in Ukraine (and being accused of treason in Russia) Daniil says Dvorkovich is in a "very, very difficult position," especially since the Kremlin has publicly demanded that the FIDE revoke Karjakin's ban. "I really don't want to be in his shoes. Anatoly Karpov is more powerful than Karjakin because he sits in the Duma, while Karjakin is just an Instagram blogger."
  • On his (and Alexander Grischuk's) protest for the release of Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny: "You probably think it took a lot of courage, but it doesn't. Basically, you wait for the police to take action and attack people. Then you go home. If you don't leave in time, the police catch you. Then it becomes uncomfortable. It may sound cynical, but quite honestly, I don't want to be beaten for a goal for which I see no chance."

Daniil knows that what he is saying is really dangerous, but thinks the only way to change anything in Russia is a revolution, which he personally doesn't want. "I don't want Russians to kill Russians. Putin and his actions are clearly supported by the majority of Russians."

He finds it hard to think about his future in chess:

Nuclear war could break out. I could miss the end of the world while analysing the Italian opening.


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