The power struggle continues: letter from Makropoulos

by Frederic Friedel
3/29/2017 – Georgios Makropoulos, seven time Greek Champion, is the Deputy President of FIDE, and has been in that role for twenty years now. In December 2015, after the US Treasury had placed FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on the sanction list, forbidding US citizens from conducting business with him, FIDE decided transfer the powers of legal, financial and business operations to Makropoulos. In the latest FIDE power struggle "Makro", as he is known to friends, has described his view of the events.

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Georgios Makropoulos and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov during their transfer of administrative power in December 2015. Ilyumzhinov said he had taken this decision as it was necessary to sign contracts in the United States related to the world championship match due to be held in that country in 2017. Read the December 2015 ChessBase report Ilyumzhinov transfers powers here. [Front page photo by Chess News]

Today the following letter was published on the FIDE web site:

Today's stories in the international press

The Telegraph writes: In a letter published Tuesday on Fide’s website, the body’s executive director, Nigel Freeman, wrote that Ilyumzhinov had “several times threatened to resign” at a meeting on Sunday. "At the end of the meeting, three times you repeated ‘I resign’ before leaving the room,” Freeman wrote, adding that the board would hold an extraordinary meeting on 10 April to discuss the situation.

Ilyumzhinov meanwhile wrote in a separate letter published by Fide on Tuesday that he had not formally submitted his resignation and had no intention of doing so. On Tuesday, Ilyumzhinov acknowledged to AFP he offered to stand down during an “emotional, unofficial” conversation with board members on Sunday after the meeting. “I said that I was ready to leave if everyone agrees and considers that I’ve done something bad to Fide,” he said. He added that his presence on the US sanctions list was the “one grievance” raised by board members against him.

The Georgian grand master Zurab Azmaiparashvili, a member of Fide’s presidential board who attended Sunday’s meeting, told AFP there was a “crisis” at the federation, but said its details were “confidential”. Azmaiparashvili said that Ilyumzhinov had in fact threatened to resign during the course of the meeting.

Read the full Guardian article here

Bloombert writes: In a statement on its website, the federation said Ilyumzhinov had submitted his resignation on March 26. The group’s presidential board has scheduled a meeting in April to discuss the situation, the statement said. Press spokeswoman Nastja Karlovich confirmed the statement in an email to Bloomberg News but declined to provide details.

However, Ilyumzhinov spokesman Berik Balgabaev told Bloomberg News that the statement was “fake news.” Ilyumzhinov attended the Athens meeting, Balgabaev said, “but he never gave any resignation, and he never intends to do so.”

Read the full Bloomberg report here

"He [Ilyumzhinov] is very effectively fulfilling his duties as FIDE president in terms of organizing the world championship and the tournaments of other levels as well as popularizing the sport of chess," Peskov, who is also a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said. "This is why we express our support for him to remain in the current post (of FIDE president)," Peskov added.

Read the full TASS article here

The Washington Post writes: Ilyumzhinov landed on the sanctions list in November 2015 for his alleged business dealings with the Syrian regime. Among the specific allegations cited by the U.S. Treasury Department are Ilyumzhinov’s “materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria” and two Syrian bankers. Ilyumzhinov has denied the allegations, but according to U.S. Chess Federation President Gary Walters, they are just a part of the “stain” the Russian businessman has brought to international chess.

Ilyumzhinov, who used to govern the Russian Republic of Kalmykia in Siberia, is an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s, as well as a former friend of deceased former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Ilyumzhinov was also once connected to an offshore illegal business scheme that resulted in the death of an investigative journalist in Russia. One of Ilyumzhinov’s business associates was eventually convicted of the journalist’s murder.

Read the full Washington Post article here

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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Keesje Keesje 3/30/2017 04:01
@TMMM, it seems obvious to me that the other FIDE board members want to get rid of him, because he cannot do business with the US anymore. This costs the FIDE hard money because sponsors, not only from the US, are turning their backs on the FIDE. The board gave him the opportunity to resign himself, which apparently he did. But the next day he changed his mind again, claiming that he did not "sign"anything. Which is a very weak excuse. He will get another chance on April 10 to leave gracefully.
Keesje Keesje 3/30/2017 03:54
No, Kalmykia is not near to Siberia. Not many people know that Kalmykia is actually part of Europe!
mateifl mateifl 3/30/2017 01:29
Is Kalmykia in Siberia? On Google Maps is just north of Georgia. Siberia is way up North.
calvinamari calvinamari 3/30/2017 12:34
If Ilyumzhinov's efforts to use FIDE to serve himself were not sufficient, and his express resignation in a formal meeting were not sufficient, then surely his publicity campaign in recent days of flat-out lies against FIDE should more than suffice as grounds to get rid of him once and for all.
KOTLD KOTLD 3/30/2017 07:14
I would like to hear (the highlights of) Makro's "tape recorded" meeting.
TMMM TMMM 3/30/2017 03:32
The real question is: why did Kirsan say he would resign three times during the meeting? Surely he did not say it for no reason, but none of these reports shed any light on it. (Again, real journalism is hard to find in the chess world.)
johan1234 johan1234 3/30/2017 02:28
His buddy for so many years, "Makro", is now sticking the knife all the way in Kirsan's back.
chronograph chronograph 3/29/2017 10:32
If he threatened to resign, he must be in peril.