Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Everyone must pass the test by power, money and glory"

- Having spent a few days in Kalmykia, I saw a lot of smiling faces and noticed that people are very friendly there... My colleagues told that you can freely walk around the city at night and not be afraid of anything. Why is that?  

Any stability and peace require hard work. The Caucasus, which is under war, is close to us, but we are the only region without military units. We don’t even have the riot police. Although the borders are all open. We made an extraordinary step by awarding the first title of the Hero of Kalmykia not a Kalmyk but Lezghin Khan Baba Mirzametov. When I took this decision, I encountered a misunderstanding and a strong rejection of that idea. All my deputies and ministers said that the first Hero of Kalmykia should be Kalmyk.

Later, something like this happened in 1995, when we built and opened the first Orthodox Church in the village of Priyutnoye, and started to build our Buddhist Khurul. By our example we showed that extraordinary moves were required. It means "to draw their fire" using the language of the front-line soldiers. If you are a leader then you must take responsibility. It's like in chess: if you made a plan you should go to the end and never stop. Genghis Khan said: "Do not be afraid when you do something, and do not do it if you are afraid."
In the early 90's, the generals seized power in the Caucasus. Instead, we have adopted our sources, culture and religion. We needed new ideals, and I said that they were Christ, Buddha and Mohammed. In fact, there was not a single church in Kalmykia at that time. We built churches, khuruls and a mosque. And people appreciated this. We developed a national idea of ​​uniting the people by the most popular sports – chess and football. We created Uralan football team. In 1998-1999, it beat Spartak and Zenit as well as the famous Dynamo, CSKA and Lokomotiv.
-Did the native environment help?
They won against Spartak and CSKA in Moscow Thus, the people became united by football and chess. We held the 1998 Chess Olympiad here to show our Kalmykia to the whole world and open the world to Kalmykia. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and great chess players: the late Smyslov, Karpov, Kasparov, Nona Gaprindashvili, Maya Chiburdanidze, Topalov, Kramnik and Spassky were invited... When our people saw those living legends, they started playing chess.
- As far as we know, many Kalmyk specialists of various professions work in Moscow.
We don’t know how many of them work there but it's normal. Our republic is small: there are only 300 thousand people. No one will even notice if all of them went to the Moscow underground at the same time one day.
I left Kalmykia too. I served in the army, studied at MGIMO, worked as a manager and president of a number of companies. Later, I returned here. Just one more example: why did Japan flourish so much? In 1868, there was a Meiji revolution. After the revolution, 10 thousand of the most talented Japanese sailed to Europe, where they mastered the sciences. Thus, the mentality was changed. So I declare: the more our people leave and then come back, the better. Today, I was in the Yashkul region. Out of 201 graduates of secondary school 200 went to universities. They will gain knowledge and come back. We want to develop a global consciousness instead of provincial one. They will become specialists and start to earn money. They will not run away, because their native land and parents are here.
  - For several years, the demographic situation is positive in Kalmykia. A​according to statistics, the birth rate exceeds the death rate.
Yes, in general this statistics is very poor in Russia (-2.2%) but we have more positive result (+ 4.1%), which is stable for the last 5-6 years. We also work on this. We are fighting for a healthy lifestyle. Back in 1993, I signed the Decree on Healthy Lifestyle. Several years passed and the smoking was banned in all the government offices. Once, negotiations were held with the SBS- Agro bank in the Government House. The president of this bank A. Smolensky smoked and was fined. He said: "Okay, I will pay." He smoked a few cigarettes and paid 100 dollars.
We not only promote Healthy Lifestyle, but try to make the life of the medical staff better. Three years ago was the Year of Medicine. I sent the best 20 doctors from rural remote areas to Italy for a week. Last year we held a professional skills competition among nurses, and the top 20 were also sent to Italy for a week. Prior to this, our medical specialists spent their holidays in Egypt and in France.
-Let’s talk about politics. You held various official posts for more than 20 years. Talking with the people of Kalmykia, I realized that you have great authority, and when it comes to Khurul - the Buddhist temple that you built on your own money - people just admire you. Are not you afraid that such admiration can develop into a cult of personality?
They say that everyone must pass the test of power, money, fame, etc. So, a long time ago, I have passed it all: from business to politics and from politics to religion. A person tests himself in every kind of activity but my main goal is the realization of myself. And I don’t care if they would praise me on TV every day...
-Or scold...
Yes. I just do not pay attention to this. The leader must be above it. If you are a leader, you must take responsibility for your actions. The chess player thinks 10-15 moves ahead but the leader must think 10-15 years ahead. When you think about the future and do not look back there cannot be any personality cult.