Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "I do not blame Kasparov: he needs to earn money"

- Kirsan Nikolaevich, everyone including the FIDE are making some plans for three or five years. Although, on the other hand, we are continuously told that the end of the world will come on December 21, 2012. Or has the end of the world been cancelled?
Very interesting question! You never know when the end of life will come. We are waiting for death and, generally speaking, we clearly know that our physical existence on the Earth will come to an end. The Lord has given us life, but it has both a beginning and an end. You can live for 80, 90 or 100 years, but still your life will end.

However, no one knows exactly when he dies, even Baba Vanga, although they say she knows the exact date of the end of the world. I talked with her dozens of times and I can say that even when she was ill, literally a month before her death, she believed that she would live, although she said that we would meet again in a different form...
And now they tell us that the Mayan calendar ends in December. We will cease to exist, probably, as unexpectedly as every person. Mankind was once born, that is, there was a beginning so there must be an end.
But when? Maybe tomorrow, maybe in 3012, but it will inevitably come. It is quite natural. However, you cannot live and constantly think that you are about to die. Like tomorrow an asteroid or planet Nibiru would destroy our planet. By the way, take a look at this picture painted by Alexei Parfenov. Here are the 12 signs of the zodiac, Adam and Eve hold the Earth, the Creator and the flying planet Nibiru! They say that it will approach the Earth in 2012.
Alexei Parfenov is a well-known painter, he has painted many temples. Today, his exhibition is held at the House of Artists. So everything has a beginning and an end. But you always need to make plans and try to implement them. Therefore, regardless of whether the end of the world comes or not, we should work. Currently the FIDE has made its plans up to 2017.
- Did Baba Vanga call the exact date of the end of the world? They often refer to her.
Not at all. You can find a lot of links in the internet referring to "what Baba Vanga said." Like, she predicted the catastrophe with submarine "Kursk". However, she did not even know what a submarine was; she was blind since age of 14. She was illiterate, but she could feel things. But they say that Baba Vanga predicted that the submarine would sink or the Ostankino tower would fall (remember there was a fire?). Nothing like this! She spoke metaphorically. And 90 per cent of everything that they write now is a fiction. Imagine we all will sit down, look at the ceiling and say that Baba Vanga has predicted so.
- So, has the FIDE made plans up to 2017?
Upon my request the leaders of Agon, Andrew Paulson and his assistants, the leadership of the FIDE, Markopoulos, Freeman and others gathered in Greece last month. They worked on the championship cycle up to 2017. For example, they fixed specific dates instead of months for the Grand Prix. We have been working on the men's tournaments only yet, but we will also publish the women's schedule in the near future. There also will be the Grand Prix, the World Cup, the World Championship and the final match.
This is good for chess players — they will be able to plan their schedule. We are going to increase the Prize funds for the Grand Prix. It is constantly gaining popularity and there are a lot of proposals for holding it. We have also been successful with Women's chess.  Women complained that there were not enough tournaments five or six years ago, but now there is such a huge schedule that not everyone has time to play.
- Vladimir Kramnik recently reminded that you had promised to hold a world championship on the cruiser Aurora in 2017. Will it happen?
Of course. If you remember, I gave an interview to Alexander Roshal after the meeting of the FIDE Presidential Council in Singapore. We often communicated with Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and the President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrei Makarov at the very table that we are sitting at now and on the first floor where we had a canteen in November and December 1995. They discussed how to hold a match for the title of the world champion.
It seemed that everything was agreed; I donated 2 million dollars of my personal funds to the prize fund. Well, then there were new interviews of Anatoly Evgenyevich and Garry Kimovich and the match was compromised. And there was the Presidential Council in Singapore. Alexander Borisovich and I were sitting in front of the hotel late at night, drinking beer. The weather was good and it was very warm.
At the time, I was novice at chess while Roshal played it all his life, so I listened to his advice. I asked: "Well, what should I do? There is money for the match, but how to hold it?" He replied: "Of course, it is difficult to come to an agreement." We talked all night and came to the conclusion: to forget about negotiations and gather one hundred chess players, who will fight for the title and prizes at the world championship? Many players left chess at those times: they could not earn much and the money was shared, basically, among several top chess players.
Roshal said: "If you would give this 2 million to chess players, they would be happy to come." Suddenly, I said to myself: "Let it be 5 million!" Why did I say that? Somehow it happened spontaneously: ‘five’ is a beautiful number. I was born on April 5. 5 million sounds attractive! And 5 million was a huge sum for chess in 1995.
I remember Yuri Averbakh, who at the time edited the ‘Chess in Russia’ magazine and published a cartoon (in the January issue, as far as I remember): I was sitting, and the bubbles were rising from my head with the words "million, million, million" written on each of them! Like, all this was fantasy and Ilyumzhinov would never give 5 million (not roubles but dollars!), so that championship would never take place.
So, the idea to gather one hundred strongest players for the knock-out world championship was born in Singapore. Of course, that was a risky enterprise. The task was to make chess more common; otherwise it would turn into a salon pastime, when several people share money among each other.
One hundred is attractive enough number for many chess federations to make them take part in the championship. Many leading chess players, who were in the top twenty and even fifty, could compete for the title of the world champion. Otherwise, there could be an impression that Karpov and Kasparov would periodically transfer the chess crown to each other until they retire. It was necessary to democratize chess, that's why there was such an unexpected decision. And in the same place, in Singapore, I said that chess will not die, the championships will continue, and we will hold a championship by the centenary of the Great October Revolution in St. Petersburg in 2017.
Roshal published an article in "64". It was called, as far as I remember, "Aurora cruiser’s volley in Singapore" or "Kirsan's volley" — something like that. He asked me: "At what place will we hold it in St. Petersburg? Would it be Aurora?" I answered: "Well, let's do it on Aurora!" After all, not only oligarchs are allowed to arrange discotheques and celebrate their birthdays there. Do you remember how veterans were indignant when an oligarch’s party had been arranged on Aurora? And we would hold a chess tournament and invite veterans to it. Let us mark the 100th anniversary of the revolution that way.
By the way, in 1977, on the 60th anniversary of October revolution, I, as the best Komsomol member of the Kalmyk Republic and the Soviet Union, was awarded the right to be photographed on the Aurora cruiser by the flag. The two sailors from the legendary crew were still alive then and we were photographed by the flag with them and Rear Admiral Ignatiev. I hope that we will hold the match for the title of the world champion exactly there in 2017.
- There is Kirsan Ilyumzhinov Street in Elista, named after your grandfather ...
There was a collective farm named after Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the Rostov region in  Velikoknyazheskaya village. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, my grandfather's brother, was a gymnasium teacher in that village. He was drafted into the ranks of the Russian army in 1914, where he launched a revolutionary activity: they said that war was useless; the imperialists were fighting each other.
He was sentenced to be shot. He fled and organized a revolutionary circle in Petrograd and came to Kalmykia after the February Revolution. He was a commissioner in the Second Cavalry Army. And he opposed the Sovietization of the Don region in 1919. He was either shot or shot himself. He saw that Bolsheviks killed all those who opposed them; they verbally cut off their heads in the village where he worked... The civil war is a tragedy for all the Russian people...
So, the street in Elista is named not in my honour. I remember Galina Starovoytova asked me about this. I was elected the President of Kalmykia on April 18, 1993 and she came to the inauguration as a part of the democratic delegation from Moscow. In the afternoon they went out for a walk around the city and saw that street. In 1990, I was the founder of the Foundation for Democratic Reforms. I rented a half-floor for the Foundation in the Rossia hotel and financed the democratic movement in our country. I have had experience in creating movements starting from 1990. I won the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the wave of democratic reforms, and then became the President of Kalmykia.
I always worked very actively: I was a commander of the pupils’ team, then the squad leader, the secretary of the Komsomol organization, the commander of the city's Komsomol staff. I was also the captain of the national chess team. When I was 15 years old, I became the champion of Kalmykia among adults after I was photographed on Aurora (probably, it gave me some impulse!) I scored 10.5 out of 11 at that time.
- You lead a very busy life! Did you say that you have already lived 69 lives?
68. Now it's the 69th.
- Which of the previous ones was the most interesting?
Well, I do not practice such a strong meditation so that I could see the past lives. But there are Tibetan lamas that go into trance and watch lives. So, they had looked and told me how many times I lived and where and who I was. Sometimes it happens that you suddenly seem to remember something! However, now I consciously live this 69th life and I like it. Let's see what will be the 70th. I do not regret that I was born in this shell and I do what is good for me and society.
-You approach the jubilee date in your 69th life. Does it mean some kind of milestone?
No, I do not pay attention to it, I do not think about it. Friends remind me: "What will you do, how would you celebrate it?"  I answer them that I would not celebrate it at all. I specially appointed the President's Council on April 5 so as not to celebrate. I do not like this... The last time I celebrated my birthday was when I studied at MGIMO in 1988...  I used to go to the most distant villages of Kalmykia for my birthdays. If I was busy with the FIDE’s affaires I tried to go to Trinidad and Tobago.
Therefore, I treat such "milestones" indifferently. Moreover, according to the Kalmyk calendar, birth is counted not from the moment when you were born, but when you are conceived in the mother’s womb. Therefore Kalmyks add a year, that is, I will be 51 years old instead of 50. After all, when we are in the womb our hearts are already there and a child has a consciousness. As they say, we do not choose children but the child chooses where to be born.
- Have your great-uncle being a hero provided you with any privileges in your childhood?
No. My mother is a veterinarian and she is still working. She was born in 1933 and she will be 80 in a year. She was awarded with a certificate of honour signed by the Minister of Agriculture Gordeev as the only veterinarian with an uninterrupted experience of 50-55 years. She graduated from the Achinsk Veterinary College in Krasnoyarsk 60 years ago and moved to Kalmykia. At 6 am she goes to work and treats cats and dogs. I told her: "Every dog ​​in the city knows you!"
My father is still working as well: he used to work as a manager of bread production plant and he works at the council of veterans now. He was born in 1929 and he is 83 already. Yesterday I called home: my father was at work and the neighbours came to my mother: their cat choked on something and she operated it. That is, parents live and work.
-Are they still in Elista?
- Yes. They do not have a car. After I became a businessman; I bought a car for my father. He said: "Why? Our city is small, we can get anywhere on foot or call a taxi." I wanted to build a garage but my mother said: "Why would we need a garage? I would rather grow cucumbers and tomatoes." We have our own garden, the house is big. And I do not remember any privileges. They themselves earned for a living. After I became a Champion of Kalmykia when I was 15 years old, I started earning money myself: I travelled around the regions, played simultaneous games and was paid by either a lamb or a bag of apples.
- Did they pay you with the natural products?
Sometimes coupons were given or money was paid. I used to work at the station. When I was in the 9th grade I earned enough money to buy a tape recorder. I graduated from the school with a gold medal. I was the winner of almost all republican and all-Russian Olympiads in mathematics, chemistry and literature.
- And how did you choose the university?
I had the right to preferential admission to the Moscow State University and a number of other universities: I had the gold medal; I was the captain of the national chess team. I was the winner of the Olympics and was photographed on the cruiser Aurora. But I decided to test myself and purposefully and consciously went to work at the Zvezda plant after school.
Almost everyone from my class went to university, only I and my friend Sanal Salymov decided to go to the plant. I worked as a fitter for two years; I became a brigade leader of the Komsomol youth brigade after two months because we exceeded the norm twice. Then I went to the army. I wanted to see what "hazing" meant.
I served for two years, went from private to senior sergeant and deputy platoon commander. It was not easy. I served in the North Caucasus district, which is totally unlike any of the Moscow garrisons. I do not have anything against it. But it was like being on the front line. Interethnic conflicts have already erupted in the Caucasus in the 1980s. Our unit stood in the outskirts of Vladikavkaz. Once I was nearly killed there...After that I decided to enter the most elite university — MGIMO. I wanted to prove that I, a man from the provinces, can study there. I entered the most prestigious faculty of international relations— the eastern department and choose the most ‘prestigious’ language — Japanese.
"Why was it ‘prestigious’?"
52 languages ​​were studied at MGIMO. It was still the Soviet times. It was believed that if you study the French language you can go to Paris, English — to New York, Italian — to Rome. And I wanted to go to Japan.
- Do you speak Japanese fluently?
I was a member of Shevardnadze's group of translators. Of course, I have slightly forgotten the language. However, I was invited to Osaka for an international conference on religion and the struggle for peace two years ago. I decided to write a speech in Japanese. The guys from the Foreign Ministry checked and corrected it. And I spoke in Japanese. Later the speech was published in some magazine.
-"Is learning foreign languages ​​easy for you?"
Quite the opposite. I had to sit and study while I'm a little lazy. There are 80 thousand characters in Japanese language.
- And what other languages ​​do you know?
English and Japanese. I am fluent in Chinese and Korean and even Mongolian.
- Did MGIMO help you to establish contacts with South Korean businessmen?
My friend Lee Myung-bak, the current President of South Korea, was the head of one of the subdivisions of the corporation Hyundai at that time. And I was the Deputy of the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and External Relations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Vladimir Lukin in 1990. And the first delegation I met was from Korea, from Hyundai.
At one time I organized all the meetings, including those for Gorbachev. By the way, I have dinner with Mikhail Sergeyevich today. I have been the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Gorbachev Foundation since last year according to his request. And he is the honorary patron of the FIDE programme "Chess in schools", who oversees school chess.
Do you remember that he went to Albania for the Women's World Championship Match recently? I will discuss several other events with him today. For example, I would suggest that he should go to London to open the pretenders’ tournament. Knowing languages ​​helps both in business and in friendship.
- How do you feel about the dress code for chess players?
I said long time ago: "Well, what is it like? It is abnormal when they come to play in shorts or in slates!" All the same, chess is an intellectual sport and it is necessary to come at least to the first game dressed in a suit. I invite the respected people to the openings. I remember I invited Valentina Matvienko when she was the vice-premier and was in charge of sport.
Somehow it does not look much appropriate if chess players come at such an event wearing sweaters. You don’t have to wear a bow-tie but at least you should be properly dressed. Does any girl have few dresses? Can you at least come to the opening in a beautiful dress? But sometimes they come in ripped jeans or in T-shirts.
I do not mind, it's okay, but you must put on a dress at least for the first game because the journalists take pictures of you! And later chess players themselves complain that they are not shown on TV or not mentioned in newspapers. But how to show a person, who is sitting on the stage picking his nose for half an hour? Or the one who came to a party in slippers...
- They have established the dress code for girls, which sets the number of buttons that can be undone on a blouse and the length of a skirt ...
Well, it's funny about how many buttons are unbuttoned. What is the reason?
- The more, the better?
A girl herself must decide and this depends on culture. The main thing is to dress elegantly.
- And how do you prefer to dress?
- Well, it depends. Today, my working day started at 6 o'clock and I already was on the Warsaw highway at 8 — there was a meeting of the Board of Directors of some enterprise. And they started to talk about dress. I said: "Does it make any difference?! You can dress in Chinese style. Here I am, dressed in Chinese. Look!" The guys did not believe it. Look, the Chinese suit.
"It fits perfectly!"
- A normal Chinese suit. Last year I was in China at one event, and flew there directly from some hot country, so I brought the summer suit only. According to the protocol, I was to meet with the Governor in the evening. And, as you know, I travel from country to country, and so it happened that I had no dark suit at that time. So I went and bought a Chinese suit. And it turned out to be quite normal, as you can see. This is not a big difference for me.
There were other cases. In 1995 I came to Lausanne where the FIDE headquarter was at the time. I stayed, as usual, at the Palace Hotel. And Juan Antonio Samaranch, with whom we became friends, stayed in the same hotel. One evening we had supper together and later went out for a walk. Then he saw a little shop and said that he wanted to have a look at the shirts. We went inside. The owner was an old Italian guy, his friend. Samaranch introduced me to him and said: "Here are good suits, shirts and accessories." After that, coming to meetings in Lausanne, I used to visit that store and buy some things from time to time.
- That is, you are always on the road. Where do you spend most of your time?
On the airplane.
- What about Moscow?
In transit only... Last year, I visited about a hundred countries. This is necessary for the promotion of chess and the programme "Chess in schools". After I arrive, I try to immediately meet with the president of the country or the prime minister. This causes interest; it is covered by the press and serves as a powerful support for the chess federations of these countries. Therefore, the national federations directly demand me to come. I have a whole list of countries where I'm expected: Mexico, Cuba, the Emirates, Poland, and Kyrgyzstan...
I recently visited Kyrgyzstan and presented chess to the Prime Minister and President. And the Issyk-Kul will hold the Central Asian Cup soon. But the main thing is that the Republic signed a decree on introducing chess into the school curriculum. 1200 schools will have the chess lessons from September 1! Over the past few months it was my third visit to Kyrgyzstan.
- Have many countries already included chess in the school programmes?
Armenia introduced it in all schools; my friend Serzh Sargsyan signed a respective decree. Azerbaijan adopted a state programme for the development of chess; Ilham Aliyev issued such order. They opened chess clubs in each district centre. The programme "Rural Chess" is developing very well in Moldova. I helped them financially. They introduced chess in Ho Chi Minh City schools in Vietnam as well as in some Spanish provinces, in Thailand and Mongolia... A lot of countries!
Now the FIDE joins 177 states and two or three are added every 2-3 months. We will affiliate several more countries soon. I see my task in bringing this number to 193, as in the UN or even better, as in the IOC that has more than two hundred members. I think we will solve this problem in a year or two. And we will increase the number of people playing chess from 600 million to 1 billion.
Why do I need the "Chess in Schools" programme? Expansion of the market! We have introduced chess in many schools in India; we will sign an agreement with their Ministry of Education soon. Have you heard about my idea: "A billion of smart people on our planet"?
We asked the Minister of Education of India: "How many children do you have in schools?" He replied: "320 million." Now, if we introduce chess in all the schools, we could accomplish the task by one third! China has introduced a chess lessons in a number of provinces too, and if at least half of China would do it, we would exceed the target. And there are 70 million people in Thailand and 90 in Vietnam...
- Do you have time for the family and relatives?
I probably was not born for a family. Everyone has his own destiny. For some reason I feel comfortable in hotels. They ask me: "Where is your home?" I do not even know where it is. I feel good in hotels and on the airplanes. That is, I feel comfortable in Moscow and in Elista. Elista, of course, is my home city; there live my childhood friends ...
My home is in Paris, Havana or Bishkek. In other words, the place with people, who understand you and try to do something together. It's nice and comfortable there. Our slogan is "Gens una sumus" — "We are one family". So it turns out that my family is all people.
- People that you have been worked together for a long time, are they colleagues or rather friends?
It's hard to say, because they are both colleagues and friends. When I was in charge of Kalmykia for seventeen and a half years, I did not fraternize with anybody. There is no difference for me whether someone is a driver, secretary, assistant or the minister.
I treat everyone equally. I consider everyone to be colleague or a friend but most of all like-minded people. I respect a man who works not just for money and who is not an egoist... Some of our great chess players think that they are the centre of the world and that everyone has to admire how they play chess. But why should everyone admire it? They play to have fun and they also get money for this.
Exactly yesterday I talked with one of the owners of a football club, which pays its players millions of dollars. I said: "Generally, they are the lucky ones running around the field in the fresh air"! For example, when "Lokomotiv" lost to "Anzhi" one of the leaders of the Moscow club got into private plane and flew to Paris without bothering to enter the locker room. Isn’t it remarkable, huh? You run in the fresh air, you strengthen your health, you get millions and then you are not happy! So are some chess players.
- And how do you maintain your physical well-being?
Sometimes I play chess, tennis and badminton. I go swimming when I go abroad and there are swimming pools in hotels. I have the second sport degree in table tennis and the first degree in boxing. I became Elista's boxing champion when I was 14.
- Do you observe any diet? Where do you like to eat, what kind of cuisine do you prefer?,
My favourite dish was pasta with stew. I ate it all the time when I was studying in the institute.  I brought stew from Kalmykia and had enough money to buy the pasta. I like an omelette with onions. What else? I like Chinese food. I travel around the world; they offer something local everywhere. But I try not to eat much and take care with exotic dishes. Of course, sometimes I had to eat frogs, etc. In Kyrgyzstan they served the head of the ram: brains and all were cooked together.
- They say you have your own restaurants?
Yes, I invited Mikhail Gorbachev to my restaurant today. Well, it is not quite my own.  I helped fellow classmates’ friends from Vietnam and introduced them to some Japanese guy from Singapore. And there are restaurants "Ichiban Boshi" in Singapore and Tokyo, which in Japanese means "Star number One". We opened a network of such restaurants in Moscow: on Krasnaya Presnya, Pravda Street and Yakimanka.
- Are they also called "Star number One"?
Yes, Ichiban Boshi. You can stop by! On Sundays, employees from the embassies of Japan and Singapore come there with families. If such people come, it means that the quality of the food is not bad.
When I started my business in Moscow in 1990, I opened a restaurant in Bolshaya Ordynka. The first karaoke bar was mine too. In December 1989, I became the manager of the Soviet-Japanese enterprise LIKO-Raduga. The Vice-President of our Company brought karaoke discs and we made our first disc of 8 songs: ‘Goodbye, America’ and something else. In December 1989, the first sushi bar was opened at Taganka. But it was not successful, it lasted less than a year. And karaoke was a failure; people did not understand it.
- Have you gone ahead of time for 10 years?
As it turns out, I go ahead of time all the time. They asked me: "Who will eat raw meat and raw fish?" I tried to teach all my friends and acquaintances but they spat on the ground. However, people enjoy sushi now. They constantly ask for discounts, that is, discount cards.
- Is restaurant business the challenging one?
You need big investments and time for promotion. Restaurants appear and disappear; they have a short period of life. It's very difficult to stay afloat all the time; you have to constantly invent something new.
Now I plan to open three chess restaurants. More precisely, cafes. One in the Central House of Writers, the second ... I do not even know whether to tell or not to avoid information leakage? There is a network called "Coffee House" and I have an idea to open a network of chess cafes.
Would one be able to rent chess and clock there?
Yes, chess and clocks are free. And you can drink good coffee. Let's see what happens.
-But nobody has ever been able to earn money on chess, people just invested money...
It was so. I first invested money in 1994, when Andrei Makarov and Garry Kasparov came to Elista and asked me to host the Men's Chess Championship in Russia. Do you remember one hundred thousand dollars prize money? Garik was surprised: "It is hard to believe about 100 thousand". And it’s worth remembering "Hyundai Sonata" car, which Petya Svidler won. Since 1994, I have spent on chess $60 million... I do not know what I could buy with this money for myself: a chandelier of some kind or a new car?
I experienced it on my own skin: chess is a costly sport. Of course, some people earn by chess: the chess players themselves, coaches and arbiters. But, by and large, we are not competitive in advertising; and this concerns television as well. It is difficult to show chess game for 6 hours.
In addition, some training is needed. When you watch football or basketball everything is very clear. And in case of chess you have to explain: it's the Sicilian defence, it's the Spanish opening. It's like explaining the higher mathematics. It is difficult to understand. A common culture is needed.
That's why I'm striving for a billion of chess players. Then there will be a market for chess, there will be people watching chess programmes. Chess should be reduced to blitz and rapid. Good commentators would also be needed. Everything is interconnected and should not be the way it was in my time, when I gave money, the chess players got it and I was criticized and blamed in return. My wife told me: "You are a masochist for giving them money when they criticize you the following day."
Do you remember that I organized Kasparov's match against Deep Junior in New York, although I did not know if anyone was interested in it? I did not take this money from the FIDE or from some fund but from my family budget. I donated it to the prize-fund, which organizer was Shay Bushinsky. They received a million dollars, and the next day they started criticizing me: "He is misbehaving and surrounds himself with mafia..." Therefore, I am indifferent to any criticism because I do not understand such logic.
- What is your attitude when you consider criticism to be justified?
Normal. If you become a politician or simply a leader you must be prepared for this. I was taught this in the army when I was appointed commander of the unit of ten soldiers. I heard them talking in the smoking room: "What kind of sergeant is he?" The first time I accidentally heard what they say behind my back. Who makes them run the cross-country race and do pull up? If you fail to pull up for six times then you would not get leave. They said: "Blast him; he didn’t let me have a leave."
When I heard it, I went mad. The sergeant-major (a wise man, Viktor Verovskiy, a front-line soldier, who was conscripted in 1940s), said to me: "Kirsan, became a chief, in other words, a thick-skinned one. Do not pay attention to what they say about you; otherwise you cannot be a boss or leader".
And if you are a head of a republic or a large enterprise, you should not listen to the crowd. You have a programme, and you have to move forward as a ram to the goal. And you should ignore what critics write about you. There would be no time left for work if you always lash back, or write back. This is my principle, and I am grateful to the Soviet Army, in which I served for two years, for what it gave me: the correct perception of the world rather than being thick-skinned.
We need to work, do our work and later time will tell who is right. Probably, mistakes were made but the leaders always desired to change life for the better. I never had such an idea: "It would be nice to play some dirty tricks on chess players or the people of Kalmykia or someone else." You cannot move on without making mistakes... Lenin wrote: "Only those who do nothing do not make mistakes."
- You had too many critics last time during the 2010 elections. What are your current relations with your rivals great chess players?
Anatoly Evgenyevich has recently sat on your chair. We converse with him, constantly call each other. I offered him the post of the Vice-President of the FIDE but he said that he had no time for it. Now he is FIDE Ambassador to international organizations. Karpov constantly criticizes me but I ignore it.
So we sat and talked and the next day he visited one of the former Soviet republics and criticized me. And the following day he came to me and smiled again. Well, it's okay; this was his way of life! I formally proposed Garry Kasparov to head the International Chess Academy, whose affiliates are being opened around the world. I asked Geoffrey Borg to meet with him and discuss all the issues. We have a budget for this. I and other sponsors invest money on behalf of the FIDE. This is the FIDE programme that is funded by sponsors.
And I would like to recruit Kasparov because he has a name and he is known as a World Champion everywhere in the world. When he is published in the Wall Street Journal or elsewhere, they always mention him as the "World Chess Champion" and not the "presidential candidate of the Russian Federation" or "leader of the non-systemic opposition".
They could not care less in America about systemic opposition, unsystematic opposition, "Solidarity", the rights or lefts. And it is so not only in America but everywhere, as soon as you cross the borders of Russia. However, the "World Chess Champion" sounds impressive. And I would like to offer Garry Kimovich this position.
After all, if you quit chess then why should you constantly appeal to chess? And if you appeal, then better concentrate on chess related activities! Tell me what you need and what budget you require. Jeffrey Borg spoke with him recently, but Kasparov has not responded positively yet.
- He is trying to do the same thing as FIDE now, that is, promoting school chess in Europe. Are you going in parallel courses or are you cooperating?
The programme "Chess in schools", which was approved by the FIDE General Assembly five years ago is still being implemented! Negotiations with UNESCO and the UN are underway. Three years ago, I and Kasparov delivered speeches before the European Union. The meeting was attended by the ministers of sport and the presidents of the national Olympic committees of the countries of the European Union. It was in Slovenia that presided in the Union at the time. I delivered a five-minute speech, and so did Anatoly Karpov.
We stressed that chess should be introduced in schools. I constantly sent letters to the ministers of education of different countries of the world. We signed a draft agreement on cooperation in Poland, Hungary, Albania and France. We open a branch of the Academy in England. That is, we have our goal.
We are ready to render financial support and assistance. But Kasparov has a commercial approach. He went to Turkey and Cyprus. Afterwards, they called me and said: "We thought he came to help, but he immediately declared the cost of his lectures and textbooks."
I do not blame him. Of course, he needs to earn money. But I would like it to be not chaotic, so that he would not go by himself but under the aegis of the International Chess Academy, which has a certain budget. And then he would not have to sell his textbooks. We will pay and support the same school in the very same country.
By the way, a few years ago, the plenipotentiary at the North Caucasus Federal District asked me to buy about 20 thousand chess sets and clocks. Each region — Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Stavropol Territory and Dagestan — received chess sets and clocks for rural schools and we have also printed textbooks for them.
- Do you have time to restbooks to read, watch TV or go somewhere?
I watch TV when I have free time, for example, on a plane.  I could read any book. I pick some book at ransom from a bookshelf and read it. Recently I picked "Hero of Our Time" by Lermontov and re-read it. I read different books because I don’t discern between fiction and documentary. Another book that I recently re-read was "Manager's career". I come home late, sometimes at one or two in the morning. Turn on TV and occasionally watch some series, such as "Home-2". Sometimes, I get confused as to why Petya drives out Vasya so I call the friends and I ask: "Why did they throw Alena out of there?" I eat dinner and watch some stupid series from case to case. Sometimes immediately after the 12th episode I watch the 50th or the 112th.
- Do you watch football? Are you fan of some team?
I do when I have free time only. I rooted for "Uralan" team.
- Do you plan to recreate it?
Now it is too expensive to compete with Lukoil and Gazprom. I supported the club with my money.  I refused when the budget reached $25 million.
- Having left the post of the head of Kalmykia, do you continue to participate in the life of the republic?
Of course, I am the first and last President in the history of Kalmykia. Its management constantly ask my advice about how to get a loan or to buy agricultural machinery or computers...
I have recently sent 70 students to Thailand. There are many friends of mine. I sent at my own expense 50 students from Kalmykia, 20 from MGIMO: I paid for two-way tickets, a month of accommodation, meals and for lectures. 20 best teachers went to Italy. I have recently agreed that 10 Kalmyk students will go to study in the University of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates,
- You have many acquaintances, like-minded people and everyone is communicating with you. It was amazing to hear in one of your interviews that most of all you are afraid of loneliness. Is this feeling familiar to you?
It's not the loneliness as such but misunderstanding and if I misunderstood I feel like I'm alone in the desert. For example, when I announced the introduction of a knockout system in 1995, everyone took it hostilely. Then they got used to it and began to ask: "Oh, do not take it away, leave it!" In the end, the Championship was transformed into the World Cup.
I declared in Elista in 1994: "There should not be the false sovereignty!" After that I refused to be the President, abolished the constitution of Kalmykia, the declaration of sovereignty and the law on citizenship. We have one border, one Central Bank, one customs. Why play in sovereignty and rewrite copies of constitutions of the republics, regions and territories? There is in fact a common Constitution of Russia for all.
But they did not understand me and the crowd immediately gathered in the square: "We will not join Moscow at any cost. Kirsan, get out to your Moscow!" On March 30, 1994, I spoke in the people on square: "If we would not abolish the constitution, our sovereignty would play a dirty trick and in six months’ time Russian tanks will enter the Russian cities and Russian citizens will shoot the Russian citizens."
Yeltsin phoned me then: "What are you doing, why does it happen?" My colleagues, the presidents of the republics called and were indignant. There was misunderstanding even in the Kremlin. But I did it for the Kremlin! I got a call from Sergei Filatov, the head of the presidential administration: "You started it too early, keep your constitution."
The General Prosecutor's Office arrived and forced to re-establish it. I wrote the "Steppe Code" but they said that there should be word "constitution". I said that the "constitution" is not exactly a Russian word same as "President"; let it be a "head". I suggested it back in 1994, but they did not support me.
That's when I felt being lonely and misunderstood. At home they also asked me: "Well, what are you trying to achieve there?" I was young, 30 years old. And in 2010, Medvedev said that there should be one President in Russia. However, I suggested it in 1994. For how many years were they late? For 16!
- Kirsan Nikolaevich, what is the secret of your success?
I do not know any secret! I work, finish my working day by two o'clock in the morning. I wake up at six o'clock or quarter to six and from this moment on I'm on my feet. My personal time lasts from two to six. After I graduated the institute, I never had a vacation or a single day off. All people know that I am available for meetings on Saturday and Sunday and I appoint meetings on these days.
What can I say about success? This question is kind of simple, but on the other hand, it is very complicated. Probably, it is necessary to work so as not to be ashamed of yourself...