Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Chess helped me in politics"

- Kirsan Nikolayevich, the US Chess Federation does not hide its discontent with your work as the head of FIDE. How do you feel about such statements?
You know, they say: "The dogs bark, but the caravan keeps on." I often asked my American colleagues why they refused to cooperate. After all, I organized two world championships in the US –in Las Vegas and in New York. And there were no sponsors or any other kind of support from the Americans.

Despite this, I stand for chess. There are many fans of our sport in the USA. I arrange tournaments not for officials or federations but for millions of chess fans.
- Many people say that you are the only one who can effectively lead FIDE. Are you really so irreplaceable?
In 1995, when I headed FIDE, it was $1.5 million in debt. There was no money to hold both women’s and men’s tournaments. Garry Kasparov organized the FIDE rival – Professional Chess Association in the US. Today, FIDE joins 188 countries of the world. It holds more than 10 thousand official competitions and more than 600 million people play chess all over the world.
- Is it true that the top person in FIDE does not get paid for work?
Yes, that’s true. Since 1995, I work for several hours daily and sometimes round the clock, yet have not earned a cent. I have no salary. The rest of the employees of the federation receive solid rewards. I will not mention the sums.
- To what extend does your experience in politics help you in your work?
On the contrary, it was chess that helped me in politics (he laughs). My grandfather taught me how to play when I was five. And the golden rule of chess is ‘think first and then make a move’. Concerning politics ... Our whole life is politics. It concerns even the potatoes digging.
- When you met with such ambiguous political figures as Bashar Assad, Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein did not you think that it would affect your reputation in the future?
Who called Gaddafi an ambiguous person? I saw once on TV how the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice embraced Gaddafi. Tony Blair invited him to meetings, where he signed contracts for millions of pounds sterling for the sale of weapons. Silvio Berlusconi? I saw how him kissing Gaddafi's hand in his tent for selling gas at a discount to Italy. Nicolas Sarkozy? I remember that Gaddafi transferred 156 million Euros to his election fund.
I looked at the leaders of the United States and the European Union. If they can fraternize with the head of Libya, then why cannot I, for example, organize a World Cup there? We held it in Tripoli in 2004. Bashar Assad? He studied in London and received a good education. The 39th US President Jimmy Carter went with him round Damascus; sat in a restaurant in the center of the city. Thus, Assad is the same person as Barack Obama. Both were elected by the people as official leaders of their countries. The Ambassador of Syria is in Washington. Syria has representatives in the UN. But for some reason I cannot meet with Assad. It is discrimination!