And Gaddafi said, leaning over the chessboard: "I'm for negotiations!"

During the trip of FIDE president to the Libyan Jamahiriya in June 2011, he was accompanied by Nikolai Sologubovsky, a correspondent of Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. We bring to your attention his reportage. Here are fragments of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's interview.

"I did not think that my trip to Libya would attract such attention. I will not give any political assessments. I just want to tell you what I saw. And tell in detail what leader of the Libyan Jamahiriya Muammar Gaddafi told me during our meeting.

I have repeatedly visited this country. I have been to Tripoli and other cities. In 2004, I met with Gaddafi in the quiet town of Sirte, where he received me in his unchanged tent. My relations with Gaddafi, the Libyan Chess Federation and prominent Libyan politicians lasted for over ten years. I remember my impressions of that time: calm and hardworking people that love chess.
And here I am in Tripoli again. The city has not changed much. of course, there are bombing attacks mostly at night. But the city lives its normal life in the daytime: there are markets, shops and traffic officers dressed in snow-white uniform at the crossroads. They look smart! And this is not a holiday! And drones that constantly fly and bomb the city. I noticed a destroyed building on our way to the Ministry of Education. We stopped and I asked the escort: "What was it?" He said it was a hospital. NATO also wanted to bomb the parliament building. But the bombs – so-called precision bombings -- flew aside and struck the hospital. Then they wanted to bomb the television tower and it was demolished half a block away. If they talk about human rights and at the same time do this, what rights do they speak about?
During this trip Tripoli, a city under constant bombings, I was surprised by people that stayed calm. They were confident that this madness will stop and a normal quiet life will begin. I did not see panic. After talking to Libyans, I felt that they did not understand what was happening. Well, why are they being bombed every night? When I talked with the Minister of Education, he complained about the increased number of children with developmental disabilities. There are children who hide under the bed every night and ask their parents: "Will they bomb us again tonight?" A child sleeping under the bed. Is not this normal? The children still graduate from the school year in the Libyan Jamahiriya despite the schools are bombed. However, this academic year for children is lost in Benghazi! Lost!
But the Libyans believe that they will survive and remain free and independent. I saw responsibility for their work and for their country in both ordinary people and leaders.
My visit to Libya took place within the framework of FIDE activities in the Year of Africa: holding chess competitions, conducting seminars for trainers and arbiters as well as active promotion of chess and the introduction of the Chess in School programme. I had already visited several African countries by that time.
I was awarded the Order for Merit to the Fatherland in the Kremlin on June 9. And when the head of the Russian Presidential Administration Naryshkin asked about my future plans, I said that after this event I will immediately fly to Tunisia and later will visit the Libyan Jamahiriya. He asked: "For what purpose?" And that’s how our conversation took place. That’s how I informed the Administration about my future trip.
Some of my colleagues, for example, FIDE Vice President are afraid to go to Libya. It is constantly being reported that Tripoli is bombed and that there is disturbance. But we reached the capital without a problem. I crossed half of the country, saw towns and villages that were declared by Western media as "captured by the rebels" and that allegedly "there are fierce battles." Nevertheless, we just had passed this place on that day! And when we drove back to the Tunisian border, the Western media reported that the city of Zawia was "captured by the rebels," while we were calmly passing through it: there was no fighting!
When we were in the hotel, we watched similar "news" on TV. Libyans laugh when they see these Western fairy tales. I would like to note that you can watch any of the western TV channels including Russian TV programmes in local hotels. On the other hand, Libya has no satellite connection; the Libyan media are not able to broadcast abroad to the world ...
Scheduled meetings with President of the National Olympic Committee Mohammed Gaddafi and Minister of Education of Libya took place in Tripoli. We discussed the activities within the framework of our agreement. For example, chess is taught as a compulsory subject in the Libyan schools since October 1 in accordance with our agreement. We discussed holding seminars for trainers and arbiters. A lot of work has been done within two days and, as the president of FIDE, I am satisfied with the results of the trip. The Libyan Jamahiriya and personally Muammar Gaddafi will make a great contribution to the development of chess in the future...

(to be continued)