" I was born on April, 5 in 1962, two years before the ousting of Khrushchev and the beginning of the Brezhnev era. The Khrushchev "thaw" was coming to a close, yet the spirit of freedom released from behind the barbed wire of the ruling ideology was still animating the country. And yet..." These lines from my first book are said to be "about time and myself."

I, like probably many others, have been trying to understand for a long time: how it has happened that our generation lives in an era of change? Such times are known to be rather hard, and even more so when changes seem to affect the entire human civilization. One day, we may find ourselves on the ruins of past well-being, or even under its rubble!
While some of us are horrified by the upcoming incomprehensible changes, the others are trying to live according to usual rules and comfortable ideas. Both methods are useless (which mothers and obstetricians know very well), and the results, to put it mildly, are not very encouraging.
I believe that the answer is still lies in a discovery of the Astrophysicists at University of Rochester. They conduct research within the framework of not the most popular Gaia hypothesis put forward back in the seventies of the twentieth century. Without going into details, I will say that this theory proposes to consider the Earth a physiological system, that is, a living being. Rochester astrophysicists, based on their own research, claim that our planet has its own consciousness and mind!
No matter how wild this may seem, it suggests an answer to at least one riddle: why could life not only appear, but also survive for many billions of years (actually, almost throughout entire geological history)? After all, global cataclysms of an unimaginable scale are constantly taking place on Earth: eruptions of super volcanoes, falls of asteroids, or changes in the inclination of the Earth’s Axis causing our planet to turn into a giant snowball. And every time life is saved only by miracle.
The existence of life on Earth, not to mention its appearance, is still a mystery for science. Several quite serious scientists who have for many years studied the conditions of existence and development of the biosphere (the entire set of living beings - from bacteria to humans), came to a firm conclusion about its interaction with our planet. That is, not only do we influence the Earth (as, for example, bacteria and plants have created soil that does not exist on other planets), but it also contributes to the maintenance of life.
And this miracle is nothing but conscious help from the home planet. But who said that the Earth will always be ready to help all living beings?
American science fiction writer Harry Harrison wrote a novel called Deathworld. A colony of earthlings is trying to organize mining on some planet, while its environment is literally trying to destroy them. A fierce confrontation has lasted for centuries, and earthlings are already almost losing it, there are fewer and fewer of them.
But at this moment, the main character realized that all the deadly attacks by local fauna and flora are a reaction of the collective mind of the planet, which perceives the colonists as an alien infection.
As soon as the main character persuaded people to try to get rid of innate hatred of the planet and stop barbaric mining, the attacks began to subside. However, some of the earthlings have never been able to change their mentality. And so, they were forced to go away for good. But we have nowhere to run.

If astrophysicists from the University of Rochester are right, I am afraid the Earth's patience has run out. Everything we have now witnessed: a sudden outbreak of a dangerous disease, aggravated social and interstate contradictions and consecutive catastrophes, can be interpreted as an urgent call of our Mother Earth to change the world. What's the alternative? Well, some people have talked about the likelihood of a global nuclear war. A few would survive. Human civilization in its current form would definitely not.



In recent years, I have increasingly noticed that a rare interview or meeting, especially with a youth audience, does without raising the question of money. Once I spoke on the air and the very first question they asked me was: "How did you earn your first million?" Students of the University of Arts and Culture also asked me about my first million. In general, many young people dream of power and money now. Looks like, it’s worth talking about it in detail.

I'll start with the "first million". It’s an interesting story. It was with the “first million” that I learned two important lessons: how you can make money, and how to relate to it. I earned my first million in 1989 thanks to the MGIMO hostel guard, Aunt Masha. This is my first advice: if you want to make money, try to talk more with different people, and not only with wealthy businessmen and successful managers. A five-minute conversation with a janitor can be a hundred times more useful than hearing the lectures “How to Become a Millionaire” by some visiting “coach” who is not a businessman at all, but an artist of the conversational genre.

So, while on watch, Aunt Masha used to constantly read the newspapers and did not skip the announcements. She prompted me that the Mitsubishi company announced a recruitment of specialists with knowledge of the Japanese language. And she added: "Go to the Japanese and earn a million." I immediately called them and fixed an appointment. The next day I passed the tests, and a week later I was invited to work as a manager of the company’s department.
Literally after three months of work, I became a millionaire as Aunt Masha predicted. That million came from a salary of $300 and commissions from every car sold, and I sold a lot. Moreover, I also offered to sell German cars, and we became the first official dealers of Audi and Volkswagen.
I asked for this “first million” of mine to be given to me in cash. It was my dream to become a millionaire. There was excitement, I liked making money, being a businessman. And now the dream came true. That is why I wanted to touch this money, which is impossible if it sits in some bank account. I came home, laid out those wads on the table, looked at them for a long time and thought: "This is my million dollars, so what’s next?" And I suddenly lost my excitement. I realized that making money cannot be the goal of life.
The Dalai Lama once told me an important thing. He said, looking at my beautiful house in the USA: “Listen, dear Kirsan. Don’t let yourself to get attached to anything, to any beautiful thing in this life."
Money is the energy of the material world. There is no need to deny the importance and necessity of money, but it is also not worth exaggerating its value. Without a doubt, money is a blessing, but it is just a means of living. Everyday survival is impossible without money, let alone further development. At the same time, it is a serious mistake to think that once we have a lot of money, it will solve all our problems. Perhaps the opposite is true: if someone has only money and nothing else, then such a person has nothing but problems.
The second piece of advice I got from Alexandre Dumas: “Do not value money for any more nor any less than its worth; it is a good servant but a bad master. " Precise remark of the French playwright and prose writer! And Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, literally continued this thought: “If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be said to possess wealth, as that may be said to possess him." However, the spenders and idle squanders of their wealth are no better, believe me!
The most important principle of Buddhism is the principle of detachment. Buddha taught that one cannot get used to anything. One should appreciate everything and not be attached to anything. Otherwise, things will go awry. I believe that regarding money, one should adhere to the principle: “It does not belong to me. I only use it. " I use it to implement new ideas, projects that interested me and which I consider important. When these projects are implemented, I feel like a happy person.
In the very centre of Elista there is a majestic temple The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni, which is also called the pearl of the Kalmyk steppes. The main and largest Buddhist temple in Europe. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama blessed its construction. I am happy to be involved in its creation. Even before the construction began, I mentally imagined this temple, it was a very vivid and beautiful vision - what is now called "dream visualization". Maybe that's why the construction took eight and a half months only. Faster than a woman bears a child.

I was born and raised in Kalmykia, and this land, if you believe the old people (and not only them), is not quite ordinary. Many wonderful and incredible stories are told about our area. For example, there are frequent cases when a person who was going to get from one place to another wandered for hours. Or an equestrian teenager hurries with some errand to his father, to the shepherd's point, but suddenly flies out to a large group of people in ancient armour with ancient weapons that beckon him to them.

When I was the head of Kalmykia, almost squadrons of UFOs flew over Elista; we got so used to them that we stopped paying attention. And our leading newspaper had a special section of reports on incomprehensible events. This section has never disappeared from the pages: people always had something to share with readers.
Do not think that I am in a hurry to explain all these phenomena by supernatural reasons. The steppe is a complicated matter, it is not so easy for even an experienced person to navigate in it. For example, a man will leave for the steppe and disappear. How to explain this? Was it Shulma (evil spirits) that confused and led him to such a bad place? Scientists deal with UFOs in a following way: "The gas explosion on Jupiter was reflected from the clouds of Venus," or something like that.
On the other hand, it’s hardly that simple. Yes, the mentality of the Kalmyks is based on Buddhism, and this is a very mystic worldview. Our nomadic people are well enough aware of the treachery of the steppe to explain all accidents by the intervention of otherworldly forces. And can all the mysterious events really be explained scientifically?
Here is an example. In Kalmykia, quite a few - at least in their own words - have come across cases of foresight (in fact, the section in the newspaper that I mentioned consisted largely of reports on such cases). Moreover, I myself am no exception.

This is a well-known story: in August 1998, I was on a business trip in the Crimea. And suddenly I felt a vague but persistent anxiety: something big was coming, some economic disaster and it was necessary to somehow protect people. I called Elista and ordered to pay the people all pensions, all benefits to the penny. And on August 12, we did it. A week later, there was a default in Russia.
After that incident, I developed a reputation as a visionary. Until now, some believe that I went to the Bulgarian clairvoyant woman Vanga - with whom we were very friendly - either to study, or to exchange experiences. But this, of course, is far from the case.
My premonition did happen most likely because, as the head of the region, I received large amounts of information, and as a businessman, I could draw the right conclusions from it. Occupied with a regular work, I probably overlooked some warning signs. But the subconscious did not sleep and at some point, sent with a powerful, almost irresistible force a signal to the consciousness.
Vanga's foresight was of a completely different nature. When she predicted, she really went into some other reality. It could be seen and felt throughout. Physically she was there with her body next to us, but actually she was somewhere in a world unknown to us as far as her consciousness and her whole being was concerned.

According to the headline, it's time to pack our bags, book flights and hotels: in our minds we are already on sultry beaches blown by a light breeze.

I will not pretend that I do not share the common desire to have a change of scenery, to escape from the annoying everyday life, to get to the life-giving sun rays and breathe in the fresh sea air at least once or twice a year. And, perhaps, reset your emotions by starting an easy, non-binding affaire. Which could also serve as a kind of therapy.
It’s just because of my restless nature, and the requirements of my previous job and current business, that my life is arranged in such a way that I cannot sit in one place: impressions replace each other like in a kaleidoscope. As FIDE President, I visited 100 countries a year. I used to fly from country to country every three days - what kind of resort affaires could I afford?
However, I would be lying if I said that there have never been such affaires in my life. I affirm that I had it and at a fairly young age. At ten or eleven years old, as the best chess player and a worthy Soviet school pioneer, I was awarded a ticket to Artek, the dream camp of every Soviet schoolchild.
This voucher greatly influenced me long before I got to that children’s paradise. For the trip, I decided to learn and remember as much as possible about my native Kalmykia and the history of the Kalmyks, so that there was something to tell in Artek about my native land to children from other regions and republics, and even from abroad. And I realized with horror that I knew practically nothing either about my homeland or about my people. At school we were forced to cram the history of Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire - but what about ourselves? There seems to be no place in history for the Kalmyks. But that’s beside the point.
Upon arrival at Artek, I immediately fell in love with the sea that I saw for the first time. Cruise liners and formidable sea ships the size of a three to four-story building, swaying in the endless expanse of the sea, far exceeded by their steel reality my boyish ideas about schooners and caravels.
After the native steppes, everything seemed not just unusual but downright alien – the rock-cut horizon line, huge Ayu-Dag, crouching to the sea, and the Adalar brothers. But all these impressions were suppressed by something more important and incomprehensible.
Of course, in theory, I knew that the Black Sea is much larger than the Elista’s city pond, but its real scale, blue from horizon to horizon and mighty waves hitting the coast conquered my boy's heart at first sight.


In early August 1998, I flew to Crimea, where several business meetings awaited me. The visit dragged on for several days, and one morning, when I woke up, I felt vaguely uneasy. Something was wrong, I had a feeling that the money house was collapsing. At that time, I was the President of the Republic of Kalmykia, and the first thing I did was to call Elista and demand that the government squeeze all reserves dry, so it could immediately pay people everything that we owed them at the moment: public sector wages, child benefits, pensions - whatever was possible. About a week later, the Central Bank of Russia announced the suspension of payments on government short-term bonds. The country has defaulted.

The dollar, which only yesterday cost six roubles, soared almost instantly to twenty and this was only at the official rate. Salaries have depreciated while goods, on the contrary, have risen in price. Of course, what was happening caused discontent among people and fuelled social tension. Kalmykia, on the other hand, has become almost the only region whose residents, thanks to payments outside the schedule, were at least somehow ready for a financial catastrophe. Some managed to exchange roubles for dollars, some stocked up on the necessary products.
But my colleagues from other republics and regions were offended: "How is it, Kirsan, that you knew what was going to happen in advance, but did not warn us?" Nobody believed that I didn’t know anything, but simply felt that something was wrong, despite all the statements of Kiriyenko and Lifshitz. They still could not believe it.
There have been enough such insights in my lifetime. It is difficult to say what caused these premonitions. For example, for the case I described above, there is a simple and completely scientific explanation. The fact is that some people - scientists, executives, chess players (I belong to the last two categories) - tend to constantly collect and analyse information. This habit works even when you are oblivious to a problem.
The subconscious mind continually snatches pieces of news, bits of statistical data, vague echoes of expert comments from the flow of information, and constantly processes all this mess to come to a certain conclusion. However, it does not provide our mind with a resume printed on A4 paper with graphs and diagrams. We get more or less vague guesses or even disturbing images only.
As you know, the subconscious mind does not stop working even in a dream. Maybe that’s why I, without really knowing or understanding anything, came to that decision on one morning of August 1998? If the default had not happened then, the government and I would probably have to explain why we committed a malicious violation of budget discipline. But I'm used to trusting my intuition.
Of course, it is rather doubtful that the control authorities would have accepted the fact that Ilyumzhinov had a prophetic dream as an excuse. Nevertheless, many serious scientists and executives would consider such a presentiment sufficient reason for action. And they would stubbornly defend their position, even if they could not back it up with figures and facts precisely because the mechanism of intuition has been sufficiently studied and recognized.
But not everything can be explained by the work of the subconscious mind. I had predictions that could not be explained in this way. Of course, from time to time, I still managed to foresee things. But I have a lot of friends and acquaintances from among those who are called seers.


And the strongest of them was, of course, Vangelia Gushterova - the famous Baba Vanga. When we met, she was already over eighty. I was barely thirty, but by that time I had long and actively been interested in extrasensory perception, clairvoyance and other inexplicable phenomena and, I must say, I had seen many. Therefore, I was able to see who is really worth something, who deliberately deceives people, and who is honestly mistaken. Vanga struck me from our first meeting and continued to amaze me until the last one.
Vanga's predictions have much in common with intuitive foresight (such as mine). My premonitions appear as a vague image but Vanga rarely predicted something in a similar way.
This happened when we were drinking tea with her in her garden. We talked about this and that, and suddenly Vanga said to me: "You are so thin, small, but you sit on two chairs!" Although I did not say so, I could not understand her: what chairs, we were sitting on a bench! And six months later, I, who at that time was the head of Kalmykia, was suddenly elected president at the FIDE Assembly in Paris! How could she have known about it, if my nomination came as a surprise not only to me, but also to Anatoly Karpov and Bashar Kouatly? Actually, they approached her only when it became clear that the elections had reached a dead end, and my candidacy, for various reasons, could suit everyone, that is, during the Assembly.










Towards the end of the year, the readers, as far as I know, are most interested in analysis of past events and forecasts for the future. But I do not want to look back. The current year turned out to be not the best: a pandemic of the new coronavirus, mass demonstrations around the world, from the United States to Khabarovsk and economic crisis. Making plans for the future is also not so wise, especially since the following year, according to rumours, is not going to be not an easy one.
But on these winter days, for no reason at all, I suddenly remember episodes from a very distant past: childhood and those times when I just began to be aware of myself. Could it be that the subconscious is persistently seeking to suggest something?
Like many of my peers, having barely learned to walk, I was practically left to myself. Parents worked hard, and my grandmother, no matter how hard she tried, found it difficult to control the nimble grandson. So the first thing I met in this world was almost unlimited freedom.
Almost up to school age, I mostly grew up in the gang of a dozen of the reckless heads of various ages. We had to entertain ourselves having no TV or computer games. Well, we used our imagination. We searched for treasures and caught spies, staged chess championships and put on performances.
However, sometimes my grandmother managed to catch me. At home, she closed the door tightly, curtained the windows and opened her chest. Grandmother’s old chest seemed to be much more valuable than the treasure of the old pirate Flint! Here, under a heap of rags mixed with mothballs, the golden Buddha was carefully kept. My grandmother took him out and began to talk about his life and teachings and I repeated the words of the prayer after her.










At the end of July, Crimean chess players invited me to Evpatoria, where a grandiose celebration of Chess Day is traditionally held. Much happened in this city; I had many meetings with guests and hosts of the celebration. Of course, in conversing with Crimeans, I could not but pay tribute to the beauty and richness of the peninsula’s nature and the impressive power of the Black Sea. 

“Oh, but that’s nothing!” the welcoming hosts of the holiday answered.  “You should come to us in velvet season, when it is absolutely beautiful!” After which, they began to paint the delights of the autumn in Crimea. The weather is just right, neither hot nor cold, there are few tourists, but heaps of fruits and berries. “True, it’s not much fun in winter here,” added the most honest of my interlocutors.
They canvassed me in vain: in my travels around the world, I happened to be in different resorts in diverse climates. I saw Crimea and Greece, Tunisia and Nice. Yes, I have been there for a short time and I did not have time to rest but still I did not close my eyes. Indeed, the very same place that seemed like a true paradise on earth in velvet season looks rather dull at other times.
And velvet season as such, if you think about it, is nothing more than a farewell greeting to resort life. This is good for tourists: they come and go back home having enjoyed great rest and saved a lot of money (when compared with high prices in summer). But the locals know very well that there is a long, chilly winter ahead. They know that nothing will grow and blossom in the winter and that all the abundance of ripe fruits must be urgently sold to late tourists, otherwise they will just rot tomorrow.
Yet this relatively short period - a couple of weeks, a month? - is so attractive that some of our neighbours on Earth go to any tricks to delay it forever. Of course, this treat is not for everyone: it would be easier to relocate all of Russians to Crimea resorts than to arrange an earthly paradise for all humanity. But for a select few, it may seem possible. Remember how popular the idea of ​​the "golden billion" was until recently.

 But promoters of the "golden billion" have forgotten that orbiting of the Earth around our star cannot be stopped. The abundance of fruits and berries available in velvet season could be only possible if someone sweat over them in the spring and summer, cultivating and collecting them.

You can create a year-round velvet season for yourself if you convince others of your own exclusivity. It works for a while. Unfortunately, not for long. There are more and more applicants for heavenly life and fewer and fewer people ready to shed sweat. What this leads to, you can see just by looking around.

I dont like to repeat myself. I said at the very beginning of "self-isolation" that the world would no longer be the same after the pandemic.  We may hide from the coronavirus, lock ourselves in four walls, but the world would be different when we venture outside. Why? It has already shown us that it can survive without us. What will it become? The better or the worse? What will we become? Nevertheless, the world, albeit imperfect, to which we are accustomed, today is reeling and changing right before our eyes. Or is our perception of it just changing? 

For many, the usual values, which until recently seemed resolute, like freedom of movement and globalization, have collapsed. We, who were always hurrying, fussing, complaining about the lack of time in the day, sit in our homes and can neither fly away nor just leave it today. We have nowhere to rush and nowhere to be late. By the way, I want to note that this is how the vast majority of citizens of our country live, without going outside or travelling. Because there is nothing. It's just that now the number of people restricted to travel abroad will increase. The economic crisis has hit hard on already-skinny wallets of the majority of Russians.
The ease with which the pandemic knocked humanity down speaks only of how unreliable the old world was. As if we were witnessing an incredible experiment, caught between two worlds - the old and the new. And one more thing: today we do not know how the new world will work after the coronavirus.
There are plenty of theories and speculations about the post-coronavirus world. Some scare us of the horrors of a global "digital prison", universal chipping and total control over humankind. Others assume that after pandemic humanity will appear to be wiser, and people will finally discard the false idols and realize the true values. They will understand that the main things in life cannot be measured with money, that happiness lies in happy and healthy life and that the most important human right is the right to life.







Somewhere in the middle of the vast ocean, a lone bare rock rises above the water. Not a blade of grass grows on it, but Prometheus, the Titan, is chained to that rock. In the daytime, the sun scorches him, at night he is tormented by the cold. Every day a huge eagle flies in to peck his liver, which grows overnight, and the next morning, everything is repeated again.

Since childhood, we remember this myth about the titan, sentenced by Zeus to eternal torment because he has stolen and given the divine fire to people. In the old days, teachers explained to us the meaning of this myth quite simply: the popular consciousness of the Greeks reflected the process of taming fire by cavemen. The tamed fire gave man so many new possibilities that it can only be compared with a divine miracle.
It sounds logical. In fact, animals use various improvised tools for their purposes, build nests and lairs, and sometimes are able to even erect impressive structures, but none of them tamed the fire: such a developed intellect is not observed in the animal kingdom.
But did Prometheus have to steal the divine fire so that the caveman could just fry the mammoth steak? It seems that a couple of suitable pebbles and a piece of dry brushwood are enough for this.
I'm afraid we all share a kind of teenage sense of our superiority over our ancestors. What did they know? Born in the forest, worshiped stumps. Someone once brought a branch on fire to the camp and therefore was immediately declared a shaman, who eventually may be considered a deity.


Every morning, billions of people wake up in their beds, still on autopilot proceed to the kitchen, put a kettle on and go to work in about an hour and a half. As a rule, the route is so familiar that they can do it even blindfolded. 

If you recognize yourself in the description above, there is a reason to congratulate you: according to some psychologists, you are in a comfort zone and, if nothing changes, you will be on this path until the end of your life. True, psychologists believe that this is not very good, because he who does not risk will never drink champagne (Russian Proverb, -Ed.). And you, in their opinion, doom yourself to a life of consuming low-fat kefir. However, everyone has a chance to leave a comfortable zone and rush into the raging sea of ​​life.
However, don’t you think that Internet psychologists have completely forgotten that all men are created unequal? Coco Chanel, for example, was so afraid of comfort zone that she almost perceived her early orphanhood as luck. Otherwise, she writes in her memoirs, “she would hardly have avoided the fate of being married “and having children and dreaming of freedom all her life.”
Henry Ford tried more than one path, which, despite initial rejection, were welcomed by his business colleagues. He said that many of the entrepreneurs he knew would be much happier and healthier, if they had followed the path of comfort zone of hired managers or accountants.
But it’s not simple to be on this path! Sometimes it could be a synonym for pure, unalloyed evil, and at times is you cannot avoid it. According to military historians, the width of the Soviet, or rather, the Russian railway track played considerable role in the outcome of the Great Patriotic War. In the heat of the offensive, the Wehrmacht did not take care in time to change the tracks (The Russian ones were traditionally made wider than the European) and when they realized it, it was too late. As a result, Army Group Centre, the main striking force of the invasion, on better days received half the trains with weapons, ammunition and troops than was required for success.


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