The cunning is an old companion of man. However, while everyone considers the high intelligence as a positive quality everything is a little different when it concerns cunning,

There is an opinion that cunning always walks hand in hand with lie and cheat. Therefore, people mistrust cunning person, but they do not consider cunning to be an exceptional vice. There are a lot of sayings about cunning in Russia that are not quite condemning it but rather lowering it to the level of not the most worthy occupation. The tales about mischiefs and rascals always evoked a smile on the faces of Kalmyks. We have a fairy tale about an old man named Keeda. He had nothing but a red and bald headed ram. With the help of natural savvy and cunning, the old man managed to acquire seven camels, a horse and a fur-coat in a short time. It was necessary to him, however, to sacrifice the ram, but in the end he was none the worse off. This character is treated kindly in Kalmykia and his sculpture is located in Elista.
It is interesting that sometimes the cunning ones become the victims of cunning. Remember Homeric "Odyssey" that was entirely based on caused by his actions misadventures of the hero. Having cunningly defeated and blinded the Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus brought upon himself the wrath of the sea god Poseidon, the father of the giant. Yes, Odysseus was forced to cheat in order to avoid death, but in retaliation Poseidon prevented Odysseus from returning home for 20 years.

Communication and contacts among people were the most important component of civilization from time immemorial. Every breakthrough in this field shook humanity. The ability to quickly and precisely receive information created empires and ruined them. Do you remember the simple trick that the Count of Monte Cristo used to crushed his enemy - the banker Danglars just by bribing the telegraph employee to deliver the wrong message? Compare this to the power of the internet, which allows us not only to communicate directly with almost any inhabitant of the Earth but also provides access to all the world’s spiritual and cultural benefits. Everything that seemed to be an unattainable dream a hundred years ago — the opportunity, without leaving home, to attend lectures by leading scientists, to see the famous theatre plays, to get familiarized with the works of outstanding painters — became a reality.

According to estimates of the International Telecommunication Union, there are 3.5 billion internet users worldwide, that is half the world's population. Of course, this figure is somewhat cunning: after all, only the number of devices is considered. If you have a computer, smartphone and a tablet that have access to the Internet, you will be registered as three users not as one. Nevertheless, the figure is impressive.
But how does the internet army affect our life? Has the global society become more educated, spiritual and intelligent than it was half a century ago in the pre-internet era?

Check-in, take off, landing, customs. Same all over again: take off, landing... More than a hundred countries a year; another country, meeting and theme every three days. That is the life of the President of FIDE - one of the world's largest sports federations.

I write these lines during the short interval between trips. However, many politicians and businessmen share such life style. The modern man is less tied to any particular place. By necessity – some more and some less – scientists and artists, journalists and engineers are touring the world. There are more and more people who feel that they are the citizens of the world.
Civilisation develops and people can travel to the places that were the ultimate dream of professional travellers before. Someone said, "The world is getting smaller." I remember a song from my childhood with the lyrics: "The planet has become a little smaller. You can travel all over it in an hour. You can get anywhere within fifteen hours of flying, plus another 15 minutes by taxi." But, in my opinion, that is not because the Earth is getting smaller but because a man is able to reach farther.
This means that all the cultural riches of civilization, from the Egyptian pyramids to spacecraft launch from Cape Canaveral, became available to any willing person. Anyone can visit Lake Baikal or the Rocky Mountains. Anyone can see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or "Stranger" in the Tretyakov Gallery. And that's perfect.

A week ago, I returned from Chisinau, which I visited on the invitation of the President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon.

I was doubly pleased by this trip. Firstly, I like Moldova. My first visit there was in 1997: I held one of the first meetings of the FIDE Presidential Board in Chisinau. Moldova enchanted me with a special aura and by the locals, who like chess and respect chess traditions.
Secondly, my old and good friend Igor Dodon is not only a major political figure but also the head of the National Chess Federation. His election to the highest State position was good news for 600 million chess players in the world.
It is not by chance that the FIDE promotes the slogan "One billion chess players - one billion clever people". After all, chess develops not only the intellect but the ability to calculate the consequences of your actions, which is necessary for every self-respecting man. The ancient game instils the respect for the opponent, motivates to learn by his example and forget own ambitions and resentments. These qualities must be inherent in any politician claiming to get an important position.
The more chess players will be in the world, the more intelligent people will appear in positions of power. The number of conflicts will decrease and cooperation among countries will increase. More decisions will be made for the interests of ordinary people.

On the human race at his feet

Sallying forth, sword in hand,
Through blood and filth,
Where the burning metal is shining!
And Satan leads the dance!

Above lyrics are known to any comparatively educated person. But how many people give a thought to the fact that the throne of the precious metal was overthrown, when Charles Gounod’s opera – based on "Faust" by Johann Goethe – was first shown on the Paris stage in 1859? And that it was occupied by a dull brown-black viscous slush with a fairly specific flavour.
The gold still has not lost its appeal to a man. Meanwhile, nearly 200 years have passed since the oil has become a driving force of human civilization. And, alas, if we compare the number of lives sacrificed to those gods, the comparison will be not in favour of gold.
The history of oil looks ambiguous. Humanity is familiar with this fossil resource for more than five thousand years: the ancient inhabitants of the Middle East used it for lighting and construction, and the ancient Egyptians have been using it to mummify the dead. However, the true booming of oil began only in the late XIX century along with the advent of the internal combustion engine.
The first motorists bought fuel for their self-propelled devices at pharmacies in volumes, which were too small to start opening special shops. Industrialists, responsible for ‘car addiction’ throughout the world, provided the rapid growth of oil production.

In April 2016, the American Museum of Natural History hosted the scientific conference, whose participants debated whether we live in the real world, or all that we see is a creation of someone from the virtual space like the plot of The Matrix.

The question is not new. The Greek philosopher Plato asked it as far as 2.5 thousand years ago. The conference participants decided put the odds at 50-50 that our entire existence is a "matrix" programme. Moreover, if we are really living in a virtual space, we cannot prove otherwise. However, I think if we talk about the matrix as a canvas, which determines destiny, each of us has its own. And it is formed in childhood.
My childhood was hardly a quiet one. Up to a certain age, I was practically on my own: my parents worked a lot and my grandmother was unable to keep up with a lively tomboy. I grew up on the street, where I joined a friendly and inventive gang. There was nothing we would not do! We roamed the outskirts of Elista, climbed the apple trees in the other people's gardens, and organized badminton and chess championships. We fought with the boys from the neighbouring yards.
Eventually, my relatives got fed up with looking for me every night and decided to send me to a kindergarten. I was horrified by what I saw there after a disorderly street life: imagine moving in formation for a walk or lunch. For some reason we had to sleep in the middle of the day. That I could not stand: I ran away to friends through an open window. They found us on the pond late in the evening. It was the only day that I went to kindergarten: The manageress refused to take me back in the morning.

Last autumn, major military operations against militants of the terrorist organization ISIS began in two countries of the Middle East almost simultaneously. The Syrian-Russian coalition and US military power attacked the militant gangs in Syrian Aleppo and Mosul in Iraq.

From the standpoint of a layman, the scale and the stated goals of these attacks are alike as two peas in a pod. However, the Spokesperson for the US Department of State John Kirby considers such comparison to be insulting. According to him, two military "dictators" - Assad and Putin -exterminate the peaceful opposition and civilian population in Syria, while the Air Forces of 66 countries exclusively attack only terrorists in Iraq.
If we ignore the lie that has become second nature to the American officials and military, we would have to admit that Kirby is relatively right: there is a difference. The Americans and their allies valiantly overcome the difficulties that they have created in Iraq by overthrowing if not much gentle but quite moderate regime of Saddam Hussein.
For all its power, America and the Americans are not willing to learn from their mistakes. Just in the last 25 years, they tried to "bring democracy" or rather impose the convenient for them regimes in Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Obviously, overseas elites consider that bringing democracy to a country means its massive bombardment (derisively referred to as "humanitarian") and provoking a civil war.

The beginning of the third millennium was marked by major upheavals. The mankind was defeated on all fronts. We have polluted the air we breathe and the water we drink to the extreme that it would eventually kill us. The mineral resources that stimulated technological advances are on the verge of exhaustion. The flora and fauna have been seriously depleted: 72 species of plants and animals disappear from Earth every day.

Ruthless destruction of nature provokes a lot of trouble. The economy is in deep crisis. While some countries and unions were able to maintain the appearance of well-being, today, more and more people look at the future – even in the United States and the European Union – with fear and concern. Eighteen thousand children die of hunger round the world every day. Every year, frost and heat are collecting their deadly toll on those who cannot afford heating and air conditioning.
The humanitarian situation is in decline. Arts, designed to teach how to live in beauty, create a cult of violence and immorality. Sport, which should demonstrate the best capabilities of a man, degenerated into a show with illegal drugs and narcotics, intrigues and corruption. Relationships between people are degraded to the ‘likes’ on the social networks. Traditional values ​​are blurred to the extreme that our ancestors would disown us – their descendants.
All these problems are not accidental given in one row. Everything is interconnected in the world, thus, it is senseless and useless to deal with each problem in turn.
As an example, we shall point out an attempt to develop a concept of sustainable development, undertaken by the United Nations at a conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The participants undertook tasks such as eradication of poverty, sustainable urban development, conservation of marine ecosystems, and so on.
However, nothing could be done: disputes between states, civil and political organizations prevent us from achieving this goal. But most importantly, these problems are just the tip of a system-wide crisis; the origins of which are avoided by participants of discussions. However, there is no point in resolving the consequences without addressing the origins.

Judge for yourself: under the guise of talking about democracy and equality, we were trying to build a civilization based on free market foundation for the last one hundred years. And, in the end, we came to the society of unbridled consumption, where the ability to acquire wealth is equated to the highest virtue and poverty is seen as retribution for sins.

It seems increasingly clear that one can feel the smell of gunpowder these days. The war rhetoric is being intensified on both sides of the Atlantic, while peace initiatives are wasted. It happens every time when the balance of power is changed, starting from the days of ancient Greece and Rome. The departures of the decrepit world leaders have always been accompanied by a bloodbath.

Two thousand years have passed, and we are all facing the same grim reality. It seems that people have had enough sad experiences; however, it looks like we recognize the military solution to the problems only. The long overdue transition to a multipolar world threatens to burn the humanity in the crucible of nuclear war.

The ancient Greeks, who invented the Olympic Games, characterized the sport as a combination of strength and intelligence and were choosing the Olympic champions by this criterion. With regard to contemporary geopolitics, one can say that we have gathered strength but not the intelligence. Today, that crazy strength can undermine the peace.
I was lucky to attend the spiritual teachings of 12th Dalai Lama in Riga in October. The spiritual teacher said the words that are worth to be put above the desk of every head of state be it a king, president or chancellor: "If the military approach could solve the problems, all of them would have been resolved a long time ago".
As the President of FIDE, I visit more than a hundred countries every year. I meet with the leaders, the heads of the national chess federations and sports officials. I see different people, different political systems starting with such countries as the US, Japan, China and ending with the developing countries. I also happen to visit the countries affected by war such as Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
Both I and my colleagues, who accompany me, see that many of the armed conflicts, that take place on the planet, are caused not by the lack of oil, money or gold but because there are few thinking people among the leaders of the warring countries. There are few people who, like chess players, are able to first think and then make a decision.
Again and again we observe that we have set an ambitious but right goal: ‘one billion players - one billion smart people’. We see how important it is to promote our programme ‘Chess in schools’ today.

There is undergoing discussion in the media about possibility of return to Russia the children of officials and deputies, who are currently residing abroad. The discussion was caused by ‘informal’ recommendation allegedly released by the Presidential Administration. This rumour was refuted by the President's spokesman Dmitry Peskov literally on the same day, which caused a strong reaction in society. However, the theme of discussion is really important, and it is worth talking about.

Needless to say, it is ridiculous to seriously believe that someone may order the adult, responsible people where their children should live and learn and, even more so, where their elderly parents should restore health and rest. Such concept is only possible in the myths about modern Russia as an authoritarian country, where Gulag prevails behind the Iron Curtain and intelligence agencies are closely monitoring every word spoken by citizens.
No, thank God, we live in a democracy where individual rights and freedoms are guaranteed by law. After facing with the American legal bureaucracy, I can talk about it with confidence.
Of course, some could argue: as long as officials were banned from having accounts and property abroad in 2012, they might also not be allowed to send their relatives abroad to study and undergo treatment. My answer is: no, it could never have happened. For example, fraud is a criminal offense but cheating one’s wife or husband is not, although it is the same if not the worst evil. Same applies here – all depends on the conscience and patriotism of an official.
This was stated by Vladimir Putin at last year's forum of the All-Russia People’s Front. "The same goes for children's education both here and abroad. This is particularly interesting issue in relation to the persons in senior positions. They need to think about how to improve the health care system and the treatment; develop the education system and provide an opportunity for their children to obtain diplomas in our country," said the President. He added: "This is the moral choice."
It looks like either the elite’s moral qualities are non-existent or their moralities allow to raise their capital in Russia with objective, ‘if anything happens’, to relocate themselves abroad to some safe haven, where the children and parents have already been settled down.

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