The US Treasury is not able to justify sanctions against Ilyumzhinov
 
15.08.2016

The US Treasury is not able to justify sanctions against Ilyumzhinov

The official response of the Government Body, authorized to impose sanctions, to request of the President of FIDE Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is made in keeping with the best traditions of bureaucratic formal replies: a lot of pathos and no specifics.
In late November last year, the US Treasury announced the imposition of the personal sanctions against the President of the International Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Let us recall that the US Treasury has not provided any clear explanation of repression; however, the fact that the United States have decided to punish the head of FIDE for his support of the legitimate (!) Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has caused, to put it mildly, surprise on the part of experts and politicians.

It is well understood that Ilyumzhinov himself did not agree with such extrajudicial infringement of his rights and initiated the legal proceedings against the American Government Body. In practice, this meant the necessity to obtain from the US Treasury a clear justification of its action, which could be later appealed to a court. As it turned out, this process is not the easiest and fastest: US law generally prohibits the state bodies to sue foreigners. However, Ilyumzhinov’s lawyers, by referring to the Bill of Rights, have ensured that the US Treasury was forced to start the correspondence.
Recently it became known that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s Moscow office received the official reply of OFAC, which, theoretically, should have contained the detailed and reasoned answer about the motive for imposing sanctions. A copy of this letter was obtained by the editorial office, and is available to the readers below.
At this stage, we have to make the necessary digression from the topic and explain what OFAC is and why its letter is so crucial in the lawsuit brought by Ilyumzhinov against the US Treasury. It is exactly OFAC, being one of the structures of the US Treasury, which manages such a powerful tool as sanctions both collective (imposed on entire sectors of the economy of some countries) and individual. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) holds the very stick, using which (along with special operations forces and military power) the US manage to keep individual politicians and entire countries in subjection.
The US Treasury activities are not restrained; however, its decisions are executed promptly and implicitly:  for example, they had decided to freeze the assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and about $ 30 billion have been instantly blocked within 72 hours in February 2011.
It would seem that the agency, which has the right to punish and pardon, should be headed by a person with an impeccable reputation. However, the truth is far from that. Chef of the OFAC Adam Szubin, who at same time performs the duties of the Acting Deputy of US Treasury, became so notorious for his antics with the companies, which bypass the trading sanctions against Iran, that it took quite a long time before he was approved to hold the post.
Still, the question remains: on what grounds Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been included in the sanctions list (or rather, if we shall stick to the overseas bureaucratic terminology, in the "List of Specially Designated Nationals")? Three officials reported to the head of FIDE about such grounds. They are: the Acting Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of John E. Smith, the Associate Director for Global Targeting Gregory T. Gadjanis and Assistant Director of the Eastern Hemisphere and the Eurasian/Levant Section Leila M. Baheri.
Thus, as we can see, the US officials have ‘targeted’ on a planetary scale. However, what they finally have as the output is a different story.
It should be noted that out of all the extensive (up to 40 pages) text only few paragraphs are of interest. Others are just verbatim copy of orders of US Presidents and red tape designed to make this document have legal significance. Or at least to make it appear as having it, which is the most probable version. After you have carefully read the letter (more specifically - the part that is named "Evidence Memorandum") you would find very strange things.
This is how, for example, the letter from the US Treasury worded the reason why the head of FIDE had been included into sanctions list:
 "Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has provided financial assistance, sponsoring or providing financial, material or technological support for, and / or acted or purported act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, by the Government of Syria, the Central Bank of Syria, Adib Malayeha and / or Batul Reed."
You should pay attention to the dull vagueness of the wording: whether he has really acted or allegedly acted (there is a good saying on the matter: "even your grandma wouldn't know whether it'll be rain or snow)." That shows that US Treasury officials actually acknowledged the fact that they did not know for sure (!) whether Ilyumzhinov ‘directly or indirectly’ supported the government and the Central Bank of Syria. However, this did not prevent them to include the Russian policy-maker in the list of undesirable persons.
It seems that American officials absolutely fail to see the difference between the action and the alleged action. The main thing is missing - the proof of such action, or at least 'alleged action’? The information is gleaned partially from the press release of the very US Treasury and partially from two articles published by the British newspaper the Guardian in 2006 and 2014. It is worth mentioning that the press release provides only the names of the Syrian Central Bank employees as accomplices "of the Assad regime," but does not mention the name of the FIDE President. In turn, the Guardian did not mention Syrian bankers at all but referred to the fact that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov met not only with Assad, but with Qaddafi as well.
The clerks could not grasp the idea that the FIDE President, in essence of his position, is required to meet not only with the heads of states, which the US approve of, but also with other world leaders. Ilyumzhinov, for example, met with the head of the Roman Catholic Church, which had historically opposed abortion and gay marriages that constitutes a far more serious crime in today’s America. Why did the US Treasury not impose sanctions on Ilyumzhinov at that time? Simultaneously it would have stigmatized the Pope.
The preamble is followed by two hefty decrees from US Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Both are quite expansive but could be reduced to the statement that the United States imposes on the right to rob any natural or legal person suspected of having links with the elected government of Syria. Obama’s rescript specifically stresses that, as far as a person subjected to sanctions may transfer his assets from the United States, "For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked, there be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to this order."
However, according to the preamble, these very decrees, as well as the mysterious Order 13582, the text of which is missing, form the legal basis for sanctions against the head of FIDE. Well, let us suppose that it is so. However, apart from the very existence of any law, its violation should be proven, right?
Nevertheless, the most interesting point in the response of the US Treasury is evidentiary basis, which consists of two articles of dubious quality published by the Guardian in 2006 and 2014. No other "evidence" is represented in the letter at all.
It does not matter that this newspaper has nothing that ties it to Ilyumzhinov nor to the United States. However, its left-liberal views are very close to those of the government of Barack Obama. Moreover, it regularly publishes interviews of a former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, who is a public consultant to officials of the US sanctions committee. No wonder the name of Mr. Kasparov - once a friend and now the bitter rival of Ilyumzhinov – is repeatedly mentioned in the articles of the "evidentiary basis". By the way, it is worth recalling that not so long ago, a tireless ex-champion has "consulted" US officials from the US Department of State calling for bombing Syria to overthrow the legally elected President. In the heat of the moment, he even has called Barack Obama a "wimp" for indecision.
It is significant that the British satirical magazine Private Eye once "renamed" the Guardian- ‘The Grauniad’ -due to the huge number of typographical and editorial errors (including those made in the name of their own newspaper).
The ‘front pagers’ lowering of standards is obvious in what purports to be a "scrupulous" newspaper. However, even this fact did not prevent the Americans from easily swallowing another lie of the Guardian, according to which the Russian journalist Larisa Yudina was  killed by "the adviser to Ilyumzhinov Sergey Vaskin" (in 1998, when the murder was committed, Vaskin had been fired from the administration of then-President of Kalmykia  for more than five years); and the canard about the Kalmyk offshore was closed because "criminals used it for illegal activities" (in fact, the preferential tax zone ceased operations due to amendments to the tax Code of the Russian Federation ); and further tales, speculations and innuendos. Nonetheless, once the US Treasury does not like offshores, then it is time to do something about the offshore legislation of Delaware, where, among other things, the company belonging to Kasparov is registered and flourishes. Furthermore, if the US Treasury intends to pursue policy-makers for the deaths of journalists, its officials should have a dig at the Presidents of their own country, starting with Barack Obama. He is actually the one who is directly responsible for the death of tens and hundreds of media workers in the numerous hot spots where the US and its allies carry out "humanitarian" airstrikes.  
In addition, the extracts from Guardian articles attached to the OFAC letter and presumably containing information, based on which sanctions against Ilyumzhinov were introduced; do not mention Syria at all. Both of these are based on false rumours, long ago exposed insinuations, and statements of Russophobe and Nazi Garry Kasparov, who has been dreaming about the chair of the head of FIDE for quite a long time. However, all above would not deter the US officials. Summing up, we cannot but admit that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov received a classic run-around devoid of any logic and full of far-fetched facts. However, we should pay attention to one clause in the preamble to the letter: "OFAC has either redacted or removed the portions of the documents that might contain trade secrets or do not comply with the Privacy Act of 1974" or are forbidden to be published according to other Acts. As they say: "We have reliable evidence, but we would not show it to you because it is secret."
One could be amused by this all if such ridiculous reasons had not formed the basis for creation of serious obstruction to the work of one of the largest international sports organizations, which is FIDE. The reply of the US Treasury to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the pathetic and delusional arguments demonstrate one thing only: the US officials do not want to see the head of FIDE in their country and they do not need any excuse in order to realize this desire. These ambitions have nearly led to cancellation of the match for chess Crown, which will be held in New York this autumn. Only the balanced position Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, his commitment to the ideals of the game and indifference to officials’ political games prevented the transfer of the match to another capital.
It is unlikely that US politicians are afraid of Ilyumzhinov. What is more likely is that they are afraid of the idea of ​​«One billion chess players - one billion clever people», which is persistently promoted by the President of the International Chess Federation. It is quite possible that clever people would vote for Trump or another leader who will suggest that Americans should abandon the idea of ​​world domination, and concentrate on fixing their own problems.

Yury DAN
Письмо Минфина США