Kalmyk steppe’s son (the end)

 At that time, Kalmykia was generally calm and stable despite the fact that it was adjacent to Dagestan, which was not the most peaceful place. Not far from there, in Chechnya, war was raging. However, Chechnya is a weak example. If anyone remembers, located in the heart of Russia, Tatarstan put barriers on its borders and introduced customs duties. 

But Ilyumzhinov proclaimed: “Forever with Russia!” And he stuck to this slogan, despite the accusations of local nationalists in betraying the interests of the people.


By the way, it is worth recalling that he was the first of the Russian regions’ heads to change the name of his post, saying that there can be only one president in Russia. 

However, we digress. Of course, no innovations would have worked, and there would have been no peace, had Ilyumzhinov confined himself to promoting chess. After he headed a destroyed republic with a virtually zero budget, he, as a true entrepreneur, engaged in its restoration. And, I must say, sometimes he adopted rather unorthodox methods.
For example, in order to maintain social and economic stability in the mid-nineties (you should remember wage delays and ubiquitous barter system) he used his own money to pay salaries to doctors and teachers and subsidized the price of bread. Our governors were not the poorest but it is hard to remember any of them acting this way.
However, personal funds are not a solution. Ilyumzhinov’s merit is the creation of a free economic zone in Kalmykia. You pay a certain (rather small) amount of money to the budget and forget about all taxes. It’s hard to imagine the amount of dirt that was thrown on him because of this! But in reality, because of it, it was possible to almost completely (!) provide gas for the republic. 235 schools were renovated. These funds were used to finance the fight against desertification, forest planting, etc.
Before liquidation of Kalmyk FEZ, about three thousand companies were registered there. Among them were the wealthy ones: Renova , TNK, UMMC and Rusal . Many of them came to Kalmykia at the personal invitation of Ilyumzhinov and invested in the republic’s economy. Thus, Alfa Group by Mikhail Fridman built a theatre in Elista.
Ilyumzhinov's ill-wishers try to ignore all this, limiting themselves to condemn him for “building an offshore!” Yes, he built it. And he managed in a short time to pull the republic up to the average level in Russia, and sometimes to surpass it. His ability to look far into the future, to think big and outside the box, like at a chessboard, helped him.
Many jokes were made about the Chess City in Elista: was it Bender’s New Vasyuki? What kind of international chess Olympiad could be held in the middle of the steppe? But Ilyumzhinov stood his ground. Finally, the world opened Kalmykia. With the participation of foreign partners, Kalmykia’s capital, Elista, for once, received a new infrastructure and new business prospects.
Much of bewilderment caused the project of using fibre-optic communication systems. When, perhaps for the first time in provincial Russia, they put cables not only to local villages, but also to faraway places, many objected: why should we bury money in the ground? Later, the head of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov was surprised: "Kirsan, how did you know that we will build a plant there?" However, Ilyumzhinov knew only that communication, roads, and other infrastructures are determining factors when making decisions about investments.
And there were a great many such projects aimed at the future. And even after he started the construction of the largest Buddhist Khurul in Europe “The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni ”, Ilyumzhinov kept in mind that it would become not only a centre for the revival of spirituality of the Kalmyk people, but also a reference point for development of tourism in the country. Eventually, it happened.
For more than a decade and a half of his term as president of Kalmykia, Ilyumzhinov managed to put the republic on the path of sustainable development. In 2010, Kalmykia ranked first in the growth of cattle stock. Investments in fixed assets (115% in 2009) and gross regional product grew.
Kalmykia was one of the first to overcome the so-called “Demographic Russian cross” of perestroika times, reaching a stable excess (4-5 percent annually) of the number of births over the number of the departed.
From his first steps as head of the republic, Ilyumzhinov set himself the task to make the name of Kalmykia a brand. And he achieved his goal, though not always using orthodox methods. As for the friendship with the visionary Vanga, the visit of aliens, and other unusual episodes that are often remembered in connection with his name, then ... could you, without search engine, answer me: who headed Karachay-Cherkessia in the nineties? And what about Udmurtia, Kostroma region? All right, it is matter of the past; just tell me who is leading Kalmykia today?
This is it. The effectiveness of a person is not determined by jokes related to him, but the result of his real actions. And Ilyumzhinov has done much to be thankful for - you can't argue with that.

Savr Erendzhenov