Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: 'The Reason Why I Decide to Sue the US Treasury"

I learned from press about the decision of the US Department of the Treasury to include me in the sanctions list, when I was in Italy. I was surprised by both the decision as such and its motivation.

Let me remind you that the announcement was published on the US Treasury website according to which US levied the sanctions against me blocking my business operations in the United States. That was done on the grounds of suspicions of my financial ties with the head of the Central Bank of Syria Adib Mayaleh and my assistance to this country and its legitimate authorities.

Being far from questioning the right  of the United States to impose certain restrictions in order to protect the public interest, at the same time, I do not agree either with the US Treasury actions against me or with their methods of actions.
It seems reasonable that before accusing someone of wrongdoings one should obtain the proofs that these had actually taken place. If the US Treasury staff asked me for the explanations they would certainly have got honest and comprehensive answers. However, unfortunately this did not happen.
As a result, I am accused of having connections with the people whom I never have met or had just a few short meetings. Furthermore, I declare that I do not have and never had any business relations with the citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic - both those who are loyal to the government of this country and those who oppose it.
I want to emphasize that my meetings with the Syrian leader were exclusively related to my work as President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), which is one of the largest sports organizations in the world.
The FIDE motto «Gens una sumus» assumes that all of humanity is one family and we do not differentiate people because of their political beliefs, any preferences or colour. Therefore, we carry out the dynamic international activity by developing and promoting chess worldwide.
Our Federation consist of 186 countries, including Syria. I visit more than 100 countries every year to meet and negotiate with very different people. Among them is not just Bashar al-Assad but also high-ranking officials, business leaders from the US, Switzerland, France, South Korea and other countries of the world.
As far as one can see, the US Department of the Treasury suspects me in supporting the Assad regime. However, our Federation do not conceal and have never concealed the fact that we assist the Syrian people. We sent thousands of chess sets, three thousand game manuals in Arabic and have sponsored the chess tournament in this country.
Our goal is to ensure that there would be no less than one billion chess players in the world. We believe that chess instils respect for the opponent, the ability to calculate the consequences of one’s actions and to find a compromise in a threatening situation. Chess teaches that a bad peace is better than a good fight.
Recently we were making preparations for the holding of the Men’s Chess World Championship, Rapid Chess Championship and large children's tournament in the United States. However, the sanctions imposed against me prevented me from signing the necessary for the organization of these competitions financial documents.
In order to pay respect to the decisions of the state institution of the United States of America, I requested to temporarily limit my powers in the United States and transfer the right to sign the financial documents on behalf of the Federation to the Vice-President of FIDE Georgios Markopoulos at the last FIDE Presidential Board meeting. This would allow us, despite the misunderstandings, to give Chess Holiday to the people of America. We have also declared 2016 the Year of Chess in the United States.
However, this step does not mean that I agree with the decision of the Treasury. Immediately, after it became known about the sanctions, I have sent a formal appeal to the US Treasury requesting to explain in detail the suspicions basing on which they had imposed restrictions on me. I received no reply so far.
Meanwhile, I think the reasons behind the sanctions are unfounded and unsubstantiated. Let me remind you that Bashar al-Assad is the head of the legitimate government of the UN member country. And I would like to understand what crime I have committed against the American people, the State and the Constitution of the United States by having held this meeting. In this respect, how should we consider the visit to Syria of the former US President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter, who met with Assad at almost the same time as I did?
I would like to receive the public and reasoned response to all these questions, as the sanctions imposed on me cause certain damage to my social activities, commercial projects (which, I repeat, are not related and have never been related to Syria) and business reputation.
I have no other choice but to bring the case before court at the place of the defendant’s residence i.e. the United States. I am ready to personally appear at the hearing and answer any questions. I hope that the representatives of the US Treasury will choose the same constructive attitude.

President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE)
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov