Ilyumzhinov’s Precedent

The conflict between the US Treasury and the President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has revealed many interesting details of the work of the American state mechanism. No matter how the scandalous lawsuit would end Washington would never be able to restore the reputation of an apostle of the rule of law and impartial arbitrator.

Recall that this story began on 25th of November last year, when the US Treasury website published the list of persons subject to sanctions on suspicion of the collaboration with the legitimate government of Syria, which for some reason the White House dislike.

The FIDE President has learned that his name was also placed in the list from the press in Rome: no official notice had been received. The published data indicated that the sanctions restricting Ilyumzhinov's ability to make financial transactions in the United States were imposed on him for some "communication with the leaders of the Syrian Arab Republic."
The very wording is surprising: well, if one has no right to help the Government of Syria to avoid being hit by the US sanctions, then why it is possible when the Government of Afghanistan is concerned? And what about the governments of Monaco, Ukraine or Germany? In addition, it is difficult to avoid asking one more question: has the US Treasury ever heard of the presumption of innocence?
This principle, in fact, implies that before punish anyone for anything it is necessary to prove that a person is guilty of committing some deed. Of course, it is also necessary to prove why it is the punishable offense. In fact, it appears that the US Department of the Treasury imposes sanctions as it pleases.
It should be noted that the announcement of the sanctions with the Jesuit pragmatism was timed to the 20th anniversary of the first election of Ilyumzhinov as the President of FIDE and literally to the eve of the announcement of 2016 Year of Chess in the US (shortly before it was decided to hold the World Chess Championship in New York City).
Obviously, the initiators of the restrictive measures had hoped to undermine Ilyumzhinov’s prestige and weaken his position: many of the colleagues and potential business partners would shy away from the sanctioned politicians like lepers. Who would dare to sign any agreement with the head of FIDE when there was a danger to fall out of favour of the all-powerful America? Such "witch hunt" methods are practiced by the country claiming the title of the bulwark of freedom and democracy.
The holding of the major chess events in New York has also turned out to be tentative: is it possible to imagine a World Championship without the presence of the President of the Federation? And, indeed, the proposals to transfer the match for the chess crown to another country circulated among the FIDE leadership especially without a lack of the applicants. If those sentiments prevailed, the Washington politicians would probably have additional reasons for pressurizing the Federation.
However, Ilyumzhinov has made ​​the least expected move. Having temporarily transferred the financial authorities to the First Vice-President of the Federation Georgios Markopoulos, he has not only insisted on the continuation of preparations for the New York Chess Championship and the Year of Chess in the United States but also proposed to expand its contents to few more dozens of events.
Therefore, the United States will additionally hold the Championships among universities, the Championship of solving the chess puzzles and compositions, the international children's tournament and many more. That’s how the beautiful asymmetrical response of Ilyumzhinov did not only disallow to undermine prestige of the organization but also created conditions for the increase of interest in chess and strengthening of FIDE image in America.
But that's not all. Ilyumzhinov has announced his intention to sue the US Treasury to protect his honour, dignity and business reputation. Later it turned out that he was the only one of those under the sanctions who decided to take such step.
On the 3rd of March Ilyumzhinov, at the press conference at Interfax, stated that the first thing he had been told by his American lawyers was that the US law prohibited foreign citizens to sue the government institutions (!).
How come? The country that declares itself the staunch defender of the rights of everyone not only openly gives a damn about the presumption of innocence but also legally violates one of the basic pillars of the law - the right to protect oneself.
Nevertheless, the lawyers of Ilyumzhinov managed to avoid the discriminatory law. By applying to the honoured in the US on a par with the Bible the Bill of Rights, which proclaims the equality of rights of all people and taking into account the number of amendments and the right of every person to a fair trial the lawyers made the US Department of Justice authorize them to represent the interests of the head of FIDE. It has also issued the order to the US Treasury to give the comprehensive answer to the lawyers’ request about the grounds on which the sanctions had been imposed.
The response was received on 26th of February. According to lawyers, this was a victory: for the first time in the history a Government body of the United States was forced to register a claim of a foreign citizen, file this claim and be engaged in correspondence with him. But even more important was that, having the official response, the actions of the US Treasury could be appealed in the US Supreme Court (it would simply not accept the screenshot of the sanctions list from the US Treasury website).
By the way, the shocking examples of the American practice of sanctions are shown by the said correspondence. In particular, it becomes clear that it is very easy to be included into the list: the post on Twitter or Facebook, whereupon some "concerned citizen" reports on someone's anti-American positions or deeds, which seem to threaten the US security is enough. At the same time, the method of cancellations of the sanctions against the person who was included into the list by accident or the malicious intent, in fact, does not exist.
Today, the US Treasury offers to meet the president of FIDE to resolve the conflict and discuss the mutual claims on the neutral territory of Europe - in London or Paris. However, Ilyumzhinov insists on the meeting especially on the territory of the United States in the office of any of the competent body, including the FBI or CIA. Moreover, he is ready to defend his case by even taking the polygraph test (the lie detector).
If Ilyumzhinov would be able to realize this provision, it would be his next victory. His visa to enter the US is not cancelled and the sanctions apply only to his rights for transactions. That is, having arrived in the country, he would not be able even to take taxi from the airport to hotel, to stay in hotel or dine in restaurant. In order to meet Ilyumzhinov in Washington the officials of the US Treasury would have to, at least, suspend the sanctions.
Like it or not, this is the checkmate. And the overseas bureaucrats could only blame themselves for such completely losing situation. And that "concerned citizen" who pressed sanctions against Ilyumzhinov with such remarkable tenacity.
Now this is no longer a secret: the lawyers’ sources informed Ilyumzhinov and the correspondence with the US Treasury has confirmed that the former World Chess Champion and former candidate for the presidency of FIDE Garry Kasparov has spread himself to bring his opponent under US sanctions against Russian politicians on Ukraine in June 2014 on the eve of the August Chess Federation presidential elections in Tromsø. But he did not succeed at that time.
However, Kasparov’s "Syrian" denunciations, as could be seen, filled the bill of the sanctions distributing bureaucrats. The ex-champion won this time; however, it is worth mentioning that he has long been under suspicion of corruption. I wonder how US judges react to the fact that the US Treasury officials did the bidding of such a "law-abiding" person.
Moreover, Mr. Kasparov together with his friend Nigel Short launched the theory in the media that Ilyumzhinov was reportedly involved in the trade in the oil stolen by the terrorist organization IS, banned in Russia. The very sick minds could invent so absurd scheme only: the head of FIDE buys the crude oil from Islamists and resells it to the Assad regime, which is relentlessly fighting with them. However, the two chess players: the former champion Kasparov and the "eternal second" Short will have to answer for their slander in court.
By the way, the Deputy Finance Minister Adam Shubin is appointed for the legal protection of the US Treasury. He is infamous for the groundless accusations against the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, the very Shubin's career is hanging by a thread: he is suspected of having links with the companies involved in the illegal trade with Iran, which was under sanctions at that time.
Losing the lawsuit against Ilyumzhinov may permanently put an end to the career of Shubin. And the gist of the matter is not only in the political weight of the head of FIDE (the Chess Federation is considered to be the one of the world's largest sports organizations bringing together 186 countries and holding about 10 thousand tournaments each year). And not even in the declared amount of 50 billion dollars claim.
The gist of the matter is that the United States have adopted the case law and thus Ilyumzhinov's victory could inspire similar actions of almost the thousand people who are in the sanctions lists. The US Treasury does not need that. For such wave of trials would destroy the myth of the "most just country, the shining tower on a hill."
It should be added that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov intends to invest the funds, which would be possibly gained from the lawsuit, in the establishment of the Support for the Democratic Process Fund in the United States territory.
As the FIDE President said: "Today, the Americans are playing by their own rules, while I try to bring them back to the normal legal framework. I'm sure the truth and common sense must always overcome the lie". There is no doubt that such a move would benefit America and Americans.

Yuri DAN,
the political scientist, Moscow