Scandal in Calvià, FIDE vice president arrested

10/31/2004 – The 36th Chess Olympiad ended with a bang. But not the fireworks we displayed in our previous report, but with the arrest of FIDE vice president Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who tried to get the attention of the organisers on the stage and was wrestled to the floor and dragged to jail by a group of security agents. Hard to believe, but unfortunately true.

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Azmaiparashvili assaulted and arrested

It is not simple to put together the entire story. Just hours after the events transpired people are still in a daze here in the Sol Antillas, where most of the FIDE delegates are staying. As we write this line President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is drafting a press release with his closest associates. Other delegates and friends are sitting in the social area of the hotel discussing possible courses of action.


FIDE vice president GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili

According to the chairman of the Spanish Organizing Committee of the Chess Olympiad it all started upon arrival at the airport, when Zurab Azmaiparashvili spent five hours trying to negotiate an additional room in the hotel for himself. Azmai is Vice President of FIDE and a playing participant at the Olympiad, and in each of these capacities he should be entitled to a room. This request was turned down, and apparently the mood of the Spanish organisers was soured.

A number of other "incidents" apparently led to a further deterioration of relations. Then, at the closing ceremony, things came to a head. At the Casino, where the games and functions were held, there is very tight security. Guards are everywhere and nobody can get in or out without a thorough airport-style security search.

When Azmai turned up for the closing ceremony, he and his wife not only had to go through the metal dectectors, the guards began to do a hands-on physical search of Marina Azmaiparashvili. To this the Georgian grandmaster objected vigorously. The two got through, but the security people had him in their sights.


The closing ceremony of the 36th Olympiad in Calvià

During the ceremony there was a little commotion inside the hall. Five time world champion Nona Gaprindashvili had arrived in Calvià to award a special trophy, named after her, to the best national federation result (men and women teams) in the event. This was, incidentally, won by Russia ahead of the US. Upon her arrival Nona had been held up until two in the morning while a place in the hotel was being negotiated. At the closing ceremony she sat patiently waiting for an opportunity to award the trophy.


Azmaiparashvili sitting in the front row of the audience (arrow)

When the organisers started to wrap things up, Zurab Azmaiparashvili became agitated, especially since they also hadn't awarded the medals to the best individual players in the men's and women's categories. He had asked the organisers repeatedly to remember the cup and the medals, and now started to consult with his FIDE colleagues about the matter. This drew the attention of the security people, who tried to make him take his seat again.

What then transpired is described by Paul Truong, captain of the US team, who was sitting a few rows behind the FIDE vice president:

"Azmai came back toward Susan Polgar and me to speak to Mr. Israel Gelfer. We were sitting less than a meter away from Mr. Gelfer. Azmai informed Mr. Gelfer that the organizer has forgotten to mention the special Gaprindashvili award as well as giving out the best overall individual performance Gold medals to GMs Jobava and Susan Polgar. Mr. Gelfer asked if Azmai has told this to the organizer. He said he did more than half a dozen times and they refused to do anything.

Azmai then said that he will try to get the attention of FIDE President Ilyumzhinov and Honorary FIDE President Campomanes on stage. As he walked back toward the stage, a few security people followed him. But they did not stop him from coming closer toward the podium. Azmai tried to get as close as possible to the stage, and this was when the security people stepped up in front of him. At one point FIDE President Ilyumzhinov noticed his attempts to get their attention, but before anything took place, the security people had pushed Azmai back.

I believe this is when the physical contacts took place. The Calvià police said he hit them, that Azmai had butted a security person in the mouth with his head. However, as far as I could see, at no time Azmai was the aggressor. He defended himself when he was constrained by a number of security people. All he did was try to get the attention of the FIDE officials on stage, to correct the errors before the closing ceremony ended. I don't think he did anything wrong. He may have been loud but I can understand his frustration. After all, this is the Olympiad, a premier tournament and it is inconceivable to forget to award or mention the most prestigious accomplishments."

The five or six security personnel, some of them in plain clothes, wrestled Azmai to the floor, completely covering him at one stage. He was dragged out of the hall, put into a car and taken to the Police Station, where he is now being held. FIDE vice presidents Georgios Makropulos and Morten Sand went to the police station and requested to see Azmaiparashvili. This request was denied and they were left standing on the street outside the police station. Suddenly Azmai was led by in handcuffs and put into a car, to be deported to another prison. Morten Sand was able to see him and says that he was quite badly injured in the face. When Makropulos demanded that Azmai be examined by a doctor he was told that Azmai would be attended to by a police medic.


The Spanish organisers give their take of the events in the pressroom (see their press release below)

After the incident the Spanish chief organiser Antonio Rami appeared in the press room and told the journalists essentially that Zurab Azmaiparashvili had himself to blame for what had taken place. Azmai had conducted himself in a way that provoked the ire of the organisers and the security personnel.


FIDE deputy president Georgios Makropulos defending his colleague


US team captain Paul Truong describes exactly what he saw


Spanish police officials tell the journalists that Azmaiparashvili had provoked the action by attacking the security officers with a head butt to the mouth. The police officials issued their statement and refused to take questions or listen to testimony by witnesses.


Maia Lomineishvili translates for a distraught Mrs Marina Azmaiparashvili

As the situation stands Zurab Azmaiparashvili is being held in the police station of Palmanova, Mallorca. The authorities have 72 hours time to charge him, but since Sunday and Monday are bank holidays it will be Tuesday before a judge gets to hear him. By that time all material witnesses will be back home in their native countries. FIDE is collecting statements from as many as possible and will publish them in due course on their web site.


COMUNICADO DE LA ORGANIZACIÓN

El vicepresidente de la Federación Internacional de Ajedrez (FIDE), Zurab Azmaiparashvili, ha sido detenido esta tarde durante la ceremonia de clausura de la XXXVI Olimpiada de Ajedrez Calvià 2004, por haber agredido a un agente de la Guardia Civil, y ahora se encuentra a disposición judicial.

Azmaiparashvili quería subir al escenario sin que estuviera previsto en el protocolo, cuando los agentes de seguridad intentaron disuadirle. Fue entonces cuando el detenido propinó un cabezazo en la boca al agente.

No es la primera vez que el vicepresidente de la FIDE genera problemas a la organización. Se da la circunstancia de que, al llegar al aeropuerto de Palma de Mallorca, Azmaiparashvili exigió que la Organización le diera dos habitaciones de hotel, una en calidad de alto cargo de la Federación, y la otra en calidad de jugador. Ante la negativa de la Organización, el miembro de la FIDE mantuvo una postura agresiva y permaneció durante cinco horas en el aeropuerto intentando conseguir su demanda.

English version

The vicepresident of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), Zurab Azmaiparashvili, has been arrested this afternoon during the Closing Ceremony of the XXXVI Chess Olympiad Calvià 2004, after having assaulted a policeman. Now he is waiting a judicial resolution.

Azmaiparashvili wanted to go up on the stage and this was not included in the protocol. When the policemen tried to dissuade him, he butted the agent on the mouth.

This is not the first time that the FIDE Vicepresident creates problems to the Organization. When he arrived to the airport demanded two hotel rooms, one as member of the FIDE and the other one as player. When his demand was refused, he adopted an aggressive attitude and he stayed for five hours at the airport trying to get his requirement.


Calvia, October 30th 2004

FIDE PRESS RELEASE

FIDE – International Chess Federation - Vice President held in custody by Spanish Police, after being heavily beaten up

FIDE Vice President and European Chess Champion 2003, Grand Master Zurab Azmaiparashvili is being held in custody by the Spanish police at a federal police station in Palmanova, Mallorca, without charges after a serious incident where he was severely beaten up by security guards towards the end of the Closing Ceremony of the 36th Chess Olympiad in Calvia on October 30th 2004.

As the Chess Olympiad Closing ceremony came to an end, a special prize bearing the name of a prominent female Georgian chess player and former World Chess Champion, Nona Gaprindashvili was about to be awarded. However, the Master of Ceremony failed to explain the reason behind the award.

FIDE Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who is Georgian, tried to notify this to the organisers, who did nothing to correct this incredible mistake. Despite his clear VIP identification, he was severely beaten up by several security guards, according to witnesses. Persons near by, including his wife, Mrs Marina Milorava were then themselves beaten up as they attempted to help him.

FIDE Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili was handcuffed and taken away at approximately 20h on the 30th of October 2004. He has been detained by the Spanish police for several hours, without any FIDE official or FIDE legal representative having any information of his health or whereabouts. The Calvia Olympiad organisers refused to intervene in an incident that they could have easily prevented from escalating. The Spanish Chess Federation did not give any assistance either and their President Mr. Javier Ochoa de Echaguen even refused to help FIDE find a Spanish lawyer.

Why a FIDE Official with VIP accreditation should be treated in such an aggressive way is beyond belief and leaves all of the chess family astonished and angry. FIDE is appalled by the aggressive and rude reaction of the security guards and of the apparent lack of concern of the Calvia Olympiad organisers FIDE therefore demands the immediate release of Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili without charge. He is clearly held without any grounds and FIDE asks for a public apology from the Calvia Olympiad organisers whose mistake has provoked this terrible incident.

Before midnight on the 30th of October 2004, FIDE officials went to Palmanova police station to see Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili. They were offered no assistance whatsoever. The FIDE lawyer was even denied access to Mr Azmaiparashvili. FIDE officials asked for Mr Azmaiparashvili to be examined in a hospital by an independent doctor, which was also denied. At this moment, FIDE regrets to have had no assistance in this very serious matter either from the Calvia Chess Olympiad, or from the Spanish Chess Federation.

Press Contact: FIDE Deputy President Mr. Georgios Makropoulos +30 6948176162
FIDE Vice President Mr. Morten Sand + 47 90561288


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