Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "There is no person I would like to challenge to a duel"

- Kirsan Nikolaevich, who have already had time to congratulate you with your birthday today?

- A lot of people:  more than a hundred calls, telegrams, text messages, which I do not have time to answer to. I received calls from Japan, South Korea's President, Mikhail Gorbachev, friends, businessmen... But I do not celebrate birthday. When I was the President of Kalmykia, I usually went to the most distant village and spend the whole event there. Today, it is the working day as well: we hold a meeting of the FIDE Presidential Board. But relatives and friends call to say kind words. I do not like feasts.

- Which was the best gift you ever received?
- Just kind words about I am being remembered, respected and seemingly did not harm anyone.
- Since you are no longer the President of Kalmykia, are there people who used to congratulate you but have stopped afterwards?
- No, I receive even more compliments. I remain the first and last president of Kalmykia in history for people. It seems to me, that during my work I never stuck out my status and never held onto my position. Friends, relatives and everybody saw that I was not working for the sake of career or some benefits and privileges. I liked to help people to realize themselves. So, when I stepped down as the President of Kalmykia many people were happy because I would have more time for friends, acquaintances and global international projects.
- How do you treat the numbers? Today is the 5th of April and you are 50 years old. Fives... Do you believe in the magic of numbers?
- I like ‘fives’ (the highest mark in the Russian school, - Ed.) since school. When I got my first ‘five’ I liked it so much that I began to get them only. It seems that I had not received a single ‘four’ for ten years. All the ‘fives’ were received in the quarters, half-years and every year. In the end I graduated with the gold medal. I always received ‘fives’ for physical training and combat training while serving in the army. And, of course, I believe in numbers. Our whole universe was created by numbers. No wonder they say that mathematics is the queen of all sciences.
- How do you feel about mathematics? Is your mind inclined to the exact sciences or humanitarian?
- It’s hard to say. I was the winner of the Republican Mathematics Olympiad and the All-Union Pushkin competition at school. I liked the humanitarian subjects – history and literature. I have even written the continuation of "Eugene Onegin". I also liked the math: I wanted to be enrolled to the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics at Moscow State University and later to the Faculty of Psychology. I was always torn between the humanitarian and exact sciences.
- Did I hear correctly that you have written the continuation of "Eugene Onegin"?
- Yes, I was the winner of the Republican and the Union Pushkin competition dedicated to the 180 anniversary of the birth of Alexander Pushkin. I wrote, we can say, the continuation of "Eugene Onegin": what I would have I done if I were on the Black River where the duel between Pushkin and Dantes took place in January 1837. It was interesting piece of work on 48 pages.
- And what would you have done if you were on the Black River?
- I believe in fate. And I prove that Pushkin had not only run his course (he had done anything and everything). Additionally, the fact that he came to fight for the honour of Natalia Nikolayevna tells all about Pushkin. Many regretted of what had happened, saying that it might have been not worth to fight the duel; the mankind lost the shining star of the Russian and world poetry. But Pushkin never divided private and public life and it was impossible to prevent that duel.
- Would you be able to challenge anyone to a duel now?
- Now the times have changed and it’s prohibited by law. It was like that at those times but now it’s out of the question. I do not recall anyone I would like to challenge to a duel. I have no enemies and no intention and to challenge someone. It must be the person who hurt you badly. But I have not seen the people who have hurt me seriously.
- How do you usually plan your day? Do you keep any kind of diary?
- I have no datebook. Usually, in the evening when the working day comes to an end and it usually ends around one or two 2 o'clock in the morning, I have my own free time until three in the morning. Then I sit down and make a plan: what have I failed to do last day and what must be done tomorrow: call and meet with some people. There are usually about 50 or 60 items, I guess. At 7 o'clock in the morning, I wake up and try to do what was scheduled at night.
- That is to say, you have schedules for one day only or do you have any longer-term plans?
- No, I have the schedule of trips made ​​for the whole year on monthly basis. Mostly those are the protocol meetings (with presidents, for example), speaking at some events, the openings of championships and symposiums. There are the major events and the time in between, which I spend doing some other things and projects. Generally, I have the one year schedule. But still, I try to fit 25th hour in 24 hours.
- Do you manage it?
- I cannot complain yet. I have not got enough time but try to keep up with everything.
- If it is not a secret, what other items you have in your schedule in addition to the Presidential Council today?
- The Kalmykia Union of Cossacks will meet with me today; then two farmer guys from different regions will come. After that I shall meet with Kalmyk Lama. I once built a Buddhist khurul, which needs help for the roof is leaking now. Then I will meet with the Bishop of Elista who is making a new iconostasis. I also need to help him. I would also have to meet with the heads of tax inspection because I declare my income and I am going to transfer millions of roubles to the budget of the city of Elista and Kalmykia Republic this week.
- So you are the law-abiding citizen and taxpayer.
- At one time, when I became the President, I was one of the first, probably, who officially paid taxes in 1993. Doctors, teachers and other public sector employees received their salaries with my tax money for six months.
- How did you like the last European Championship and the rules applied there that violate the chess rules? And when you finally dismiss Danailov as the President of the ECU?
- We will hold the FIDE Presidential Board today. Silvio Danailov probably would come. We shall discuss it at the meeting.
- Have you watched the last championship? There were a few high-profile scandals.
- I do not want to make any statements now because the Presidential Council is still going to be held and I would not like to voice my opinion as the FIDE President. I would like to hear the views of the members of the Board and then make decisions. We are a collective body.
- What's happening with the construction of the Palace of Chess in Rostov? It goes on in Kazan and Grozny, however, nothing is being done in Rostov as promised...
- This job cannot be done within one day, it could take more than one year. We make suggestions for local authorities, governors and heads of states. These are the formal proposals that we are ready to participate in the construction of the Palace of Chess, opening of the Chess Academy and the chess school. Then the local authorities should propose to us the land areas for our consideration. Our experts would inspect and select those areas.
We made ​​an offer and are waiting for the response from the mayor's office in Rostov. Mintimer Shaimiev, the first President of Tatarstan personally participated in Kazan. We were offered a very good site. We are carrying out our project on that area now. We have together with Ramzan Kadyrov also examined two sites, laid the foundation stone in the construction of the Chess Academy in Chechnya. In short, we register, become the tax residents and start to work. Same happens in Yerevan and in other countries.
- Do you think about writing books about your life?
- I have already written a few books that have even been published in foreign languages. «The President's Crown of Thorns", written in 1994, and other books - "Ethnoplanetary thinking", "Paris - Yerevan - Elista". I have many records of meetings with Pope John Paul II, Saddam Hussein, Henry Kissinger, Gaddafi and Grandma Vanga. Unfortunately I have no time to write about it. Maybe I will take a vacation for two or three weeks in the summer to write about my travel records.
- Do you write yourself or speak and use a typist?
- I wrote the very "Crown of Thorns" myself if you take care to consider the style. It has been translated into English. I always got ‘five’ for my school written compositions and, in general, I wanted to be enrolled to the Literature Institute. Therefore, I write myself. I have already accumulated, probably, a few cabinets with my records in my office.
- How did you manage to meet with Gaddafi when the airspace over Libya had been blocked?
- We flew to Tunisia and then drove by car for three and a half hours. There were two places where fighting with the rebels went on. We arrived at Tripoli and found ourselves under the NATO bombing there. For two nights, when we were in the hotel, bombers were destroying Tripoli from 9 pm to 5 am. At one night we heard a huge explosion: the bomb hit a hospital 200 or 300 meters from the hotel. They took aim, probably, at the parliament, but hit the hospital where about 60 people were killed.
- Were you offered to stay in some shelter but rather choose an ordinary hotel?
- I'm a fatalist ... I was more comfortable to sleep in the hotel with the bathroom, shower and hot water.
- Your assistants were there with you. How did they react to all of this?
- Fine. Sometimes they were nervous. When I was in the Philippines a few years ago, there was the earthquake. I let assistants to leave the hotel that night and I slept there on the 48th floor. However no assistant left hotel in Tripoli, they all were in adjacent rooms.
- Please comment on the view that the decision of your election as the President of FIDE was decided in the Kremlin as the compensation for leaving the post of the head of Kalmykia.
- I do not know who invented it. There was no compensation. You know, I made ​​the statement that I would not run for the post of the head of Kalmykia again. There have been many programmes in FIDE, especially the "Chess in Schools", and thus this decision was mine: I began to run for the FIDE President. Some talks in the Kremlin are nonsense. The leaders of the country have many problems besides chess...
- Is it possible to introduce uniform rules for all tournaments? At least make the uniform time control for all tournaments?
- We are trying to achieve this, but it is difficult. Some hold rapid chess tournament for 25 minutes, some like blitz, some- half an hour, the other prefer the so-called classic chess. I think everything is moving towards unifying the chess control. The goal is the World Cups. On the other hand, the organizers cannot ensure that the participants would stay for two or three weeks, it's expensive. Therefore, they hold tournaments with shortened time control.
My position is that you need to reduce the time control in order to be more competitive and chess to be on TV. It is same as in football: everyone knows that in football one period lasts for 45 minutes. And that’s where the advertising time fits in. We must move in this direction, but very cautiously.
- How much of your own money did you spend on chess?
- Hard to say. Perhaps, more than 50-60 million dollars because I didn’t keep the record. I never care for my spending. I try to consider the income but the spending happen every day. For example, I have just arrived and I am on my way from the airport to the office. The phone shows the balance of minus 1.5 million roubles: I brought some money in a bag for various activities and to support a variety of public funds. I do not know if I would remember it tomorrow or not.
In order to add up, we shall start with the World Cup knockout stage when, in December 1995, I allocated five million dollars. After that there was Karpov - Kamsky match - 2 million dollars; Garry Kasparov - Deep Junior - more than 1 million. I calculated that more than 50 million dollars were spent in the past year. But the numbers differ because sometimes I state one number and then my assistants say: "Kirsan, you have forgotten about the Grand Prix conducted in Dubai - 700 thousand dollars".
I paid 800 thousand dollars when Radjabov played against Kasparov at Moscow Grand Prix. Additionally, there was match between the World and the Russian teams in the Kremlin participated by Kasparov, Karpov and Judit Polgar. I was the Captain of the World team. That costed more than one million dollars on the prize and subsidizing. And again I didn’t count in that tournament and had to be reminded later. Thus, another million was lost. More precisely, I forgot about it.
- We are on a live broadcast now. I have prepared a song for you. What do you think, what it would be?
- I have no clue. I like a lot of songs. Maybe the "White Rose"?
- Correctly!
- I loved it for it was playing non-stop in my car because my driver Valera liked it and it always sounded in my head. A good, easy song that distracts one from everyday turbulent life.
- Happy birthday, Kirsan Nikolayevich! I wish you all the best, and most importantly - health!
- Thank you very much. I will continue my work.

Evgeny Surov