Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Two predictions of Vanga have not yet come true"

The clairvoyant Vanga and the head of the International Chess Federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov were the long-time friends. Therefore it is not surprising that Ilyumzhinov agreed to play the role of himself in the Vangelia film. We asked Kirsan Nikolayevich to talk about Vanga and how the film was made. 

- How did you get to knowVanga?
In the end of 1992, my MGIMO friend Bulgarian Stoyan called me. At that time I was the president of the Sun Corporation. Stoyan suggested that I go to Petrich: "Vanga asked me to bring a "young president" from Moscow, but we couldn’t find anyone. Maybe you will do. You will get acquainted and have a talk."

Of course, I agreed. Baba Vanga was a legend! I came to Bulgaria. The next day, early in the morning, Baba Vanga called me to her home. She asked me to sit down and asked: "Well, young president, how are you?" And at that time, I just graduated from the institute, I was 29 years old. I said: "how could I ever be a president?" She wouldn’t listen: "You will command the people; you will be a great president!"  

And six months later I was elected president of Kalmykia. I had no idea that it would happen. I came to Elista to visit "Star" factory, where I worked before the army. One of the candidates came to make a speech there. The guys said: "Why do we need another candidate? We have our own. Kirsan, you have already become rich, you live under communism. Do it so that we also live under communism!" And they nominated me.
After winning the election, Vanga immediately called me and congratulated. And I flew to her right after the election. Thus began our friendship. We met very often. Sometimes I came to see her 2-3 times a month.
- By what principle did Vanga admit people into her inner circle?
For me it is a riddle. I have many friends in Moscow. One of them and Vanga made friends. And she drove another one. She did not accept, for example, the President of Bulgaria Zhelyu Zhelev. I know this well, because I was asked to arrange a meeting. But it was useless.
- Is the scene with the map in the film based on the real event?
Yes. It was the end of 1995. They were supposed to build a small oil refinery in the south of Russia. The vice president of the oil company found out that I was flying to Vanga, and suggested in jest that I ask her about the best place to build some construction. We took a map, and then everything happened as you saw in the film. Vanga took a pencil, circled a place on the map and pushed a pencil into the table with force. She said: "I see a lot of cars and pipes there." I looked at this place, it was some Artezian village. There was nothing there, it's a semi-desert. I thought Vanga was mistaken. And in 10 years they found oil there. Now they started to build the factory.
- Did Yelena Yakovleva play the role of Vanga well?
The makeup was amazingly done. But Yakovleva is a tall woman. Vanga was a small old woman, probably 160 cm tall. I remember that when I hugged her, her head touched my shoulder. But Elena accurately conveyed the way Vanga talked. By the way, I suggested to the actress to play Vanga tapping her fingers on the table.
- Did you feel comfortable as an actor?
I played myself. I agreed without hesitation. I wanted to please Vanga and the film turned out good, fair and intriguing. On the other hand, I was interested in such an experience.
-Did all Vanga’s predictions about you come true?"
Eight out of ten. She gave all her predictions in a figurative form. For example, Vanga did not say that I would become FIDE President. She said: "You are so thin, small, and you sit on two chairs!" And we were sitting on the bench in her yard; what chairs was she talking about? And she said that she saw two Kirsans!
And half a year later, I was elected FIDE president in Paris. And at that time, I was the only one who combined the posts of the president of a republic and the head of an international organization... The prediction about oil came true in 10 years. Now I wait for two more events in my life that Vanga spoke about. What are they? I wouldn’t say.
- We remember Vanga mostly in connection with her prophesies of a catastrophic nature: the Kursk submarine and September 11 attacks. Do you think that Vanga saw the future as a pessimist or optimist?
She was a life-loving person. Vanga liked Russia and predicted its bright future. She had always advised Bulgarian politicians to hold on to Russia. Personally, I did not hear anything about the Kursk tragedy from her, although we were friends and communicated much.
And then she had a peculiarity: if Vanga foresaw something bad, she often would not talk about it. Once a woman came, who was looking for her son. Vanga said that she did not see anything. And when the visitor left, Vanga became sad. She said it’s too bad that no one there is alive. She cared for people and that’s why I don’t trust the kind of terrible prophecies they spread on her behalf.