Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Chess got into a risk zone"

- Kirsan Nikolaevich, can you tell us why not only the Russian but the whole world of chess got sanctioned by Obama and the West?

That policy has being carried out by the US officials for several years. For example, the World Chess Federation is the one of the largest and numerous sports organizations. We unite 187 countries; spend more than 100 thousand competitions every year; more than 600 million people play chess or know the rules of the game under the auspices of FIDE...
Thus, it happened that chess too, somehow, has recently got into a "risk zone" with the assistance of, let us say, some officials.

It became especially noticeable in 2014, when the former World Champion Garry Kasparov, supported by the USA, fought for the presidency of FIDE.
However, it does not concern the FIDE presidential election only... "The US position" also affects some of our competitions.
When, for example, we announced that the match for the title of World Chess Champion between Magnus Carlsen and the Indian GM Viswanathan Anand would be held in the Olympic village of Sochi we have been also criticized by some Western countries and the former World Champion that called for a boycott of the competition and tried to prevent Magnus Carlsen coming to Sochi.
- Have you personally had any, let us say, claims or requests from the USA?
It so happened that last year, on November 25, the US Treasury, included me, as FIDE president, in the sanctions list "because of ties with the Syrian leadership and support of the official Government of Syria".
I never denied that I made several visits to Syria and have repeatedly met with the President Bashar al-Assad since 2011. (By the way, the US Treasury Department even sent a request to Damascus demanding explanations of the purpose of Ilyumzhinov’s visit.) We have opened a sports chess centre with a swimming pool and chess rooms in Syria in association with the country's leadership. I presented more than a thousand chessboards and chess books translated into Arabic to the Syrian chess players. We have also held few tournaments there.
And now, it appears, these visits and deeds could be seen, from the point of view of the Americans, as rendering support to the Syrian leadership. As if they believe that chess and chess books are the goods prohibited for import to Syria...
- This is a "weapon"!
Yes, this is a "weapon" ... Incidentally, yesterday, the US Congress voted to supply the lethal weapons to the country neighbouring Russia - Ukraine. That is exactly what represents the position of some US officials.
Soon, there will be a year since I have been included into the sanctions list. And we will hold the match for the title of World Chess Champion between Magnus Carlsen and the citizen of Russia Sergey Karjakin from Crimea in New York under auspices of FIDE from November 10 to 30 this year. But I, as the President of FIDE, currently cannot attend these events because of the sanctions. To be more precise, my visa is still valid, but I was not allowed to board plane to come to the US for organization of this match. Thus, I had to authorize my Vice President to perform part of my duties, such as signing of contracts, etc. in the United States.
We believe that the sanctions imposed on me, as FIDE president, also restrict the activities of FIDE.
But we did not suspend our work, it still continues. I told (both the General Assembly of FIDE and FIDE Congress supported me in this) that we will not cancel the match. This is our unique gift to the American people and American chess players. Moreover, we will hold a few tens of chess events and tournaments among children and veterans. We hope that we will see a chess boom of Bobby Fischer’s era in the US again. So let the US officials get a little wiser even through chess.
- Please, say a few words about the petition to your support. Where is it?
My friends from the United States, which I have many among artists and politicians, such as Steven Seagal, Richard Gere and others, wrote the petition and placed it on the White House website yesterday. (They have that kind of formal appeal to the US President.) This petition is also available on my website. And anyone from any country can sign this appeal to the leadership of the United States on the illegality of the sanctions against me as FIDE President.
To read the petition and sign it is possible here and now.