Filatov remains head of Russian Chess Federation

by Macauley Peterson
2/6/2018 – On Saturday, February 3, the Russian Chess Federation held presidential elections. The current president Andrey Filatov started the day facing several challengers, notably Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the current FIDE president, who is expected to stand for reelection to the body in September at the Chess Olympiad in Batumi. Ilyumzhinov received support from an unlikely source in former ECU president Silvio Danailov, but ultimately Ilyumzhinov withdrew his bid before the actually voting was held, and Filatov was easily returned to office, along with his team. | Photo: ruchess.ru

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Ilyumzhinov bows out ahead of vote

A major story in Russian chess media circles is the recent presidential election within the Russian Chess Federation. On Saturday, February 3rd, the 13th Congress of the RCF was held at the Central Chess Club in Moscow. The suspense leading up to the election was mostly stoked by the surprise addition of embattled FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to the slate of candidates. Apart from Filatov and Ilyumzhinov there were six other candidates and identified as:

  • Zaurbek Malsagov (Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria)
  • Sergey Nesterov (Republic of Crimea)
  • Andrey Selivanov (Republic of North Ossetia-Alania)
  • Ivan Starikov (Karachay-Cherkessia Republic)
  • Eduard Suboch (Rostov region)

However, on the day of the vote, Nesterov, Selivanov, Suboch and Ilymzhinov all withdrew their names from consideration, for reasons that are not immediately clear. Here's the culmination of Ilyumzhinov's remarks to the assembled delegates, to give an atmosphere of the event:

Video via Chess-News.ru on Twitter

Access to the meeting was tightly controlled, and the impression given is that Filatov's candidacy was heavily favoured by the political and chess elite, and his re-election was essentially a foregone conclusion. Several prominant players turned out in support of Filatov and the current RCF leadership; Sergey Karjakin, Valentina Gunina and Alexander Ryazantsev even spoke on his behalf.

Sergey Karjakin

Sergey Karjakin and Berik Balgabaev share a laugh | Photo: V. Barsky, E. Kublashvili, ruchess.ru

Alexander Morozevich was among the Moscow-based players attending

Filatov is also supported by Alexander Zhukov, deputy chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and the President of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Andrey Selivanov had been on Filatov's team as a vice-president, but has now been replaced by Andrey Guriev, the general director of PJSC "PhosAgro" a major chess sponsor (the company also sponsors events organized by Agon / World Chess).

Ilyumzhinov was looking to gain influence in the RCF in advance of his bid to remain as President of FIDE, despite significant opposition from much of the rest of the FIDE leadership, including the Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos, who assumed most of the FIDE Presidential duties in the aftermath of Ilyumzhinov appearing on the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctions list.

It doesn't appear, however, that Ilyumzhinov had much of a chance to unseat Filatov, and that may not have even been a serious goal. In addition to his graceful exit on Saturday from the field of candidates, we can also find a passing reference in the statement published on the RCF site offering "moral support" to both Ilyumzhinov and former-World Champion Anatoly Karpov and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as potential FIDE presidential candidates. Filatov supported Ilyumzhinov as recently as last Spring, during the kerfuffle over whether or not he had "resigned" during a FIDE meeting. Karpov and Ilyumzhinov both vied for RCF support of their FIDE Presidential efforts in 2010.

RCF congress

13th RCF Congress: Ilyumzhinov, Natalia Komarova, Andrey Filatov, Alexander Zhukov, Anatoly Karpov, Pavel Shinsky, Andrey Selivanov | Photo: Vladimir Barksy, ruchess.ru

Strange bedfellows

In the days leading up to the RCF election, Ilyumzhinov received public support from an unlikely source: disgraced former European Chess Union President Silvio Danailov. Danailov is well known in chess circles as the manager of Veselin Topalov and was a prominant organizer of events in Bulgaria and founding member of the now-defunct Grand Slam Chess Association of tournaments in 2006.

Danailov has previously been critical of Ilyumzhinov and considered running for FIDE president in 2014 against him, before eventually supporting Garry Kasparov, and being beaten in his own reelection bid for the ECU presidency by Zurab Azmaiparashvili. He was subsequently accused of embezzlment during his tenure at the helm of the Bulgarian Chess Federation. That case has resulted in Bulgaria losing recognition within FIDE and Bulgarian players currently must play under the FIDE flag rather than the national flag of Bulgaria.

[Disclosure: Danailov also unsuccessfully sued ChessBase in Germany, in a 2010 case involving the live transmission of the 2010 World Championship match between Topalov and Viswanathan Anand, organized in Bulgaria's capital, Sofia.]

In Janurary, Danailov took to Twitter, and described Filatov as a "member of Makro & friends criminal gang", although Filatov's name has also been floated as a possible FIDE presidential candidate.

In an interview with chessnews.ru, ten days prior to the election, Danailov lashed out against Makropoulos and asserted that the FIDE leadership has been using Ilymzhinov as a kind of straw man, while quietly running FIDE in a corrupt manner.

It's a bizarre case of the old adage, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Indeed, nearly everyone in the picture has taken an adversarial stance against everyone else at one time or another!

Status quo or quo vadis?

From the outside, one does not get the impression that the Russian Chess Federation was in dire need of new leadership. Under Filatov's tenure, the organization seems well managed and productive. The RCF is directly involved in many important chess events in Russia and has a stable cadre of sponsors. The delegates at the 13th Congress apparently agreed, as Filatov was returned to his post by a large majority — the final vote tally was 56 for Filatov, 14 for Starikov, 1 for Malsagov.

One issue highlighted by Evgeny Surov of Chess-News.ru is a change to the organization's charter rendering it a "socially-oriented non-profit corporate organization" (социально ориентированную некоммерческую корпоративную организацию), which could set the stage for a decrease in transparency for members of the public, or facilitate suppression of dissent, although it remains to be seen what effect this will have in practice.

Andrey Filatov

In addition, members of the Supervisory Board were elected: Gilyazov Amir Mansurovich (Chelyabinsk Region), Stepanian Albert Azarapetovich (Sverdlovsk Region), Filipenko Vasily Alexandrovich (KhMAO-Yugra), Shakhov Dmitry Vladimirovich (Pskov Region), Kazakov Vladimir Aleksandrovich (Vologda Region), Maslyakov Sergei Yuryevich (Leningrad region), Zakharov Gennadiy Nikolaevich (Republic of Tatarstan), Serper Evgeny (Samara region), Ishbulatov Filyus Khamitovich (Republic of Bashkortostan), Nagibin Georgiy Gennadievich (Republics Ingushetia), Suleimanov Magomed Valibagaidovich (Republic of Dagestan), Edilsultanov Khasbek Khamitovich (Chechen Republic), Lazarev Sergey Evgenievich (Tula Region), Burshtein Igor Moiseevich (Bryansk Region), Moskvin Alexey Stanislavovich (Yaroslavl Region),Maletin Pavel Sergeevich (Novosibirsk Region), Yury Nikolaevich Maximov (Kamchatka Territory), Andrey Vladimirovich Dolgov (Jewish Autonomous Region), Petukhov Valery Ivanovich (Primorsky Territory), Palikhata Vladimir Mironovich (Moscow) and Blekhtsin Igor Yakovlevich (St. Petersburg). 

Mark Glukhovsky was confirmed as Executive Director. Boris Spassky, who recently celebrated his 81st birthday, was elected honorary president.

(Above) Andrey Filatov | Photo: Boris Dolmatovsky

Vera Jürgens and Andre Schulz contributed to this report

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Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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