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- People have a limited set of desires. Many young people have only two. The first is to earn a million dollars; the second is to attain power. As a person who already had both, can you tell us how you did it, and what one has to do when everything is in the past?

 Students of the University of Art and Culture asked me about my first million. Young people are only interested in money. I'll tell you how it was. I was graduating MGIMO, and I earned my first million thanks to the seventy-year-old lady who guarded the Strategic institute and the MGIMO hostel. She knew us all by name. It was summer. I was an undergraduate and was waiting for an allocation. Once, I passed by her watch cabin. Aunt Masha was alone; she was bored and was eating some sunflowers seeds. 

- Kirsan Nikolayevich, the 17th Karmapa visited Kalmykia recently. What are your impressions of this visit?

We awaited his visit for the whole last year. It was remarkably interesting and important for us, because we are reviving traditional Buddhism in Kalmykia. Ten years ago, there were no Buddhist temples, no lamas, no teachers, or disciples. Then we started sending our students to study in India. And, of course, the visit of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa played a huge role in popularizing Buddhism in our republic, especially since he never visited Russia before.

 

The meeting of Buddhists spiritual leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate the Dalai Lama with the Supreme Lama (Shadzhin Lama) of Kalmykia Telo Tulku Rinpoche and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov took place at the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala on 7 May, 2012. During the conversation, which lasted about two hours, issues of development of Buddhism in Russia and the Republic of Kalmykia were discussed.

The Association of Entrepreneurs for the Development of Business Patriotism Avanti addressed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with an initiative to buy out and relocate to Russia the memorials to Soviet soldiers stationed on Polish territory. Alternatively, volunteer patrons from Russia should assume all the obligations for their maintenance. Nearly 500 monuments to the Great Patriotic War are under threat of demolition in Poland.

When you are twenty it is hard to believe that your friends might be corrupt, that they might betray and deceive you. The revelation hits you like a bolt from the blue, and you begin to think in utter surprise: how can this be? It's just not possible!

We were all unarmed and unprepared. The first interrogation at the KGB overwhelmed me. For a long time I couldn't take the situation seriously. It seemed to me that at any moment the lieutenant would start laughing, slap me on the shoulder and say: Well, Kirsan, how did you like our joke?"

- On 24 November, 2015, you were elected President of FIDE as suggested by former President Florencio Campomanes. What has changed during this time?
Now I am the head the largest chess federation in the world. And 20 years ago it was a small organization. Karpov and Kasparov left it in 1995. The chess world was in the deepest financial crisis when I was elected president. The prestige of FIDE was extremely low; we were short of money. In addition, the Federation had big debts.

 - Kirsan Nikolaevich, what would you say about geopolitics in the South of Russia? Is it possible to unite some regions to achieve an economic breakthrough?

The Russian regions need, first of all, the disclosure of their development potential. Today, the main task for the regions and republics of our federation is creating an attractive image of their region, finding reliable and serious economic partners, increasing regional and local budgets and changing people's lives for the better. If interregional cooperation and integration contributes to the achievement of these goals, then they are certainly justified. Unification for the sake of unification is pointless.

- Having spent a few days in Kalmykia, I saw a lot of smiling faces and noticed that people are very friendly there... My colleagues told that you can freely walk around the city at night and not be afraid of anything. Why is that?  

Any stability and peace require hard work. The Caucasus, which is under war, is close to us, but we are the only region without military units. We don’t even have the riot police. Although the borders are all open. We made an extraordinary step by awarding the first title of the Hero of Kalmykia not a Kalmyk but Lezghin Khan Baba Mirzametov. When I took this decision, I encountered a misunderstanding and a strong rejection of that idea. All my deputies and ministers said that the first Hero of Kalmykia should be Kalmyk.

The residents of the steppe used to call the Kalmyk nobility "tsagan yasn", literally "the white bone", or the cream of society.  And although the khans and noyons were exterminated along with the clergy, the people of Kalmykia never forgot either the term tsagan yasn or the people whom it represented. However, nature does not tolerate a void, even under socialism. So people gave that name to the Communist Party bureaucrats, the top rank administrators, and the tsagan yasn were born anew.

 

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov visited the Dalai Lama’s residence in the Himalayas, where they discussed the possibility of his pastoral visit to Russia. During a press conference in Moscow, Ilyumzhinov told reporters that he offered the Dalai Lama to make a stopover in Kalmykia on the way back from Germany to India on September 25.
- Kirsan Nikolaevich, can you already talk about the results of your meeting with the Dalai Lama?

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