USA: a new reality

My inclusion into the sanctions list of the US Treasury looked suspicious and illegal from the very beginning. Now I know for sure that it was backed by the repressive political preferences of certain US officials and I am committed to restore justice.
From November 25, 2015 when the US Treasury has included me in the list of people against whom the personal sanctions were imposed, I regarded this situation as a challenge to fight. And I took up that challenge.
However, before you start the game, it is important to understand - who is behind this illegal step? The official explanation is that I was included in the sanctions list because I allegedly "has provided financial assistance, sponsoring or providing financial, material or technological support for, and / or acted or purported act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, by the Government of Syria, the Central Bank of Syria, Adib Malayeha and / or Batul Reed.»(Quote from the administrative case 6700), looks frankly ridiculous.
I was on nodding term with the one of these people and I do not know at all the second one. I have never had a secret relationship with Syrian officials. In addition, as the head of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), which includes 187 countries, I visited annually about 100 countries, and, of course, met with their leaders, representatives of chess federations and so on.
Therefore, as the head of FIDE, I met with the former US presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and ex-head of the Department of State Henry Kissinger. Similarly, I talked with the leaders of North Korea, the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, a leader of the Libyan Jamahiriya Muammar Gaddafi.

All of these meetings were held openly, reported by the press and on the FIDE website. They were all dedicated to one thing: the promotion and development of chess in different countries. Nobody tried to make it a secret. Our Federation is an independent public sports organization since 1924 and it serves the only purpose: to increase the number of chess players up to one billion people. We do not have any other ambitions and we do not interfere in foreign policy.
Therefore, attempt of any state to get involved in our activities, trying because of its legislation to control travels, and meeting of the President of FIDE is unacceptable. Decisions governing the activities of the Federation are made collectively, and each country, regardless of its geopolitical weight, has only one vote.
No less important is the fact that I - a citizen of a sovereign state, the Russian Federation - have never broken any law. Therefore, I consider the sanctions as illegal and groundless repression.
Therefore, I applied to the one of the US largest law firm and signed the contract on protecting my interests with them. Soon, we found out that none of those included in the sanctions list - and there are more than one thousand people including Fidel Castro – had never tried to challenge the actions of the US Treasury Department and OFAC that was directly made up these lists. Hence, the US Treasury perceived our appeal as a bombshell: they simply did not know how to react.
Nevertheless, on February 23, 2016 OFAC was forced to issue the administrative ID 6700 and assign the employee responsible for communication with me and my lawyers. The OFAC sent me a list of two hundred questions, all of which I answered honestly and thoroughly. Moreover, I gave them a copy of my passports issued since 2010 and all the visas from 2010 until 2015. However, after that it took several months for OFAC to give me the copy of the administrative case ID, based on which I was included in the sanctions list.
Finally, at the end of July, we received the copy, without which we could not apply to a court or in any other way to challenge the actions of the US Treasury. We have carefully studied the document that has forty pages. My lawyers said: "Kirsan, we don’t know what to bring go to court: there's nothing here."
In fact, the official response of OFAC contained mostly reprints of the British newspaper the Guardian and other online publications, including an interview with Garry Kasparov made at the last presidential campaign of FIDE.
At that time, Garry actively visited different countries, however, instead of promoting his plan of developing chess, he talked about how bad were Putin and Ilyumzhinov. It got to the point that players in Togo, Costa Rica, and Jamaica, where I went after a visit to the former World Champion, asked me what did Kasparov actually said and how it was related to chess.
The only statement in the letter of OFAC, which we were able to use, was the accusation that I kept in touch with Adib Malayeha and Batul Reed, which are false. Therefore, our response to OFAC voluminous letter fit into two or three pages.
It should be noted that, judging by the postmark and dates on the documents, the OFAC letter reached me almost a month later. Such slow case development cannot satisfy me due to the obvious reasons, and I have decided to personally deliver my response to the US Treasury. At the same time, I was ready to answer any further questions of the US officials even by undergoing a polygraph test.
Besides, despite the sanctions that block my opportunity to make financial and economic transactions in the United States (where I cannot buy a can of coca cola), my visa valid until June 2017 is not cancelled and entry to the US is not forbidden for me. It was specifically confirmed to me by the American diplomats and intelligence services.
When I received the official confirmation that I have the right to enter the United States, I notified OFAC about my visit and sent a request to Delta Airlines to book me ticket for the round trip "Moscow-New York-Washington" and "the Washington New York-Moscow ". Once again, my request did not cause any surprise on the part of the airline staff, but the US Treasury reaction was somewhat perplexed: "Why do you want to come? Oh, we have to think it over and make few consultations"- however, there was no direct refusal from meeting with me.
I must say that my lawyers have seriously considered the possibility of my arrest upon arrival at the US airport, and I was ready for such a development. Of course, I did not pack warm clothes but picked up a chess set. Well, you never know, I could hold a chess tournament in American prison, why not? The documents related to my trips and meetings, including those in Syria, filled the half of my suitcase.
I was ready to answer any questions; meanwhile, the US secret services (as long as they suspect me of anti-American activities) would not have to chase me around the world like Bout and Yaroshenko, for whom aircrafts were sent at the cost of US taxpayers. I was consciously ready to open dialogue with any government officials. Well, of course, including the journalists who were waiting for me at the New York airport.
Unfortunately, there was neither meeting, nor communication: at the check-in I was approached by a representative of the airline, who said that I was not allowed an entry to the US and the company will refund me the price of the ticket without the usual charges and fees.
And the next day, an e-mail from OFAC came, which had an interesting caveat: it turns out that my inclusion in the sanctions list I currently have to solve with the State Department of the United States of America, since neither the OFAC, nor the US Treasury have no claims against me.
Thereby, I definitely know that the sanctions were initiated by the US Department of State, and that it is a political case. I was given to understand that my only fault is that I am a citizen of the Russian Federation and, in a sense, represent the political elite of the country: I was a deputy, senator, the head of one of the regions for a long time.
In essence, these are groundless and illegal repressions. All the talk about the support of the Syrian government, and even more so - about the participation in the trade of oil stolen from the Syrian oil fields; the involvement with banned in Russia ISIS; rumours spread by the same Kasparov and some other chess players is just the slander.
And they are well aware of it in the US. Judging by the fact that they do not want to let me into the country, the officials are afraid of an open dialogue and do not need me as a witness. However, I am sure, America is a democratic country. It declares the protection of human rights around the world - in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. So let the leaders of the USA defend my rights against officials, especially, since they do not have to send troops, aircraft carriers, and bombers anywhere.
Now I intend to seek the defence of my rights by applying to the US Secretary of State Mr Kerry. If this would not help, I am ready to apply even to Barack Obama, who is still the guarantor of the rights and freedoms of citizens. I am absolutely confident that we will resolve this incident and I will be excluded from the sanctions list. I am ready to defend my case in court if necessary, but I hope that this would not be required.
The reprisals against me are so clearly politically motivated and so undoubtedly illegal that I believe we can solve this issue by means of an open and constructive dialogue. This is, exactly, the very dialogue that we currently have with the representatives of OFAC and the US Treasury, which did not try to hide behind bureaucratic procedures and provided us with all the opportunities for communication, including direct phone numbers of the employees in charge, and all documents that are of interest to us, for which I am grateful to them.
However, this conflict is to be resolved as soon as possible. The match for the title of the World Chess Champion is planned to be held in New York in November, which, of course, I have to attend. Despite the suggestions, made by some members of FIDE to reallocate it to a more friendly capital, we will not do it. Chess lovers of the United States are waiting for this match, and we expect that it will have an impact on the growth of popularity of the game in this country.
Therefore, I hope that the reason would prevail in the US leadership as well as the commitment to observance of legality and human rights so that we could close this bewildering chapter in our relations.