FIDE head: "I have never betrayed anyone"

- Why was the question of your non-participation in the next elections raised at Antalya?

It happened because some members of the Executive Board are very afraid of my re-election and try not to allow it. They made a statement: "Due to the fact that Ilyumzhinov is under US sanctions, the FIDE Executive Committee recommends that he refrain from nominating himself for the FIDE presidential elections."

This is called interference in internal affairs. International organizations have a fundamental principle: "one country, one vote". What if tomorrow the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Emergency Situations or Ministry of Finance of Mongolia and Trinidad and Tobago or any of 188 FIDE member countries, said that someone of them violated traffic rules and did not pay the fines? And will this serve as a ground of prohibiting a person to take part in elections?
A similar situation arose last year. One of the most active members of the Executive Board, I will not mention his name, was under the sanctions imposed by one of the Russian ministries. He could not fly to the Candidates Tournament and to FIDE Presidential Council held in Moscow at that time.
This person tearfully addressed me. He wrote an official letter asking me to resolve the issue and uplift the sanctions. I appealed to the Ministry leadership and to the Russian President. Eventually, that person was removed from the stop list. He flew to Moscow and at FIDE Presidential Council thanked me and the Russian leadership for his removal from the sanctions list and clearing his name.
I mentioned this case to the Executive Board. I said, according to the logic of my opponents, any country can become an instrument of interference in the internal affairs of FIDE. Yes, if a person is under UN sanctions or in prison or has been hospitalized with a psychiatric diagnosis he cannot be elected but in all other cases he has the right to be elected.
I told them that the document that they put to the vote violates the Olympic Charter, FIDE Charter and the European Convention on Human Rights, which directly prohibit state pressure on international organizations. Meanwhile, FIDE is registered in Switzerland...
In addition, the procedure was grossly violated, as the agenda of Executive Board meeting was drawn up and sent out one month before its inception. But I will not go to court. They try to make me stoop to their level but I do not want to participate in their intrigues – I have no time to sue.
- Nevertheless, you have been trying to remove the sanctions for two years ...
A month ago I sent a letter to Donald Trump about an unfair assessment of my actions by the US Treasury. I asked the President, as guarantor of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, to protect me from that error and stop political insinuations. I asked him to see my point and give me a visa so I had the opportunity to come to Washington to meet with the US Treasury leadership and the State Department and personally explain my position.
I know that my letter is registered and is being processed. I'm open and honest; I answered all questions that they have been asking me in London, Zurich, Paris and the US Embassy in Moscow for two years. I gave them a few dozen passports and detailed report on all my trips abroad from 2000 to 2016 -- more than a thousand visits to many countries. I gave them full report and now I'm waiting. And I very much hope that this misunderstanding will be resolved in the near future.
- When you became FIDE President in 1995, it was completely bankrupt. You managed to unite the chess world, hold many tournaments and work out clear rules for the chess crown competitions and identifying a single, universally recognized champion of the world. However, unity of FIDE itself should be restored today...
FIDE in general remains unified as before. However, one of the members of the Executive Board who wants to stay forever in the Presidential Council continues to weave intrigues. But his assertion that being under sanctions I am a threat to FIDE is absolutely groundless. Two years ago, when the US Treasury included me into the sanctions list I convened an extraordinary meeting of the Presidential Council in Athens and voluntarily transferred my powers to one of the vice presidents of FIDE.
By the way, according to law the US sanctions apply only to their country. I do not yet have the right to make payments in US Dollars and manage companies, in which my share is above 50 per cent. But if my shares are less than 50 per cent then there are no problems. And being under sanctions, I have established "Kirsan Foundation" in Washington. I have 49 per cent shares in it and my American friends have the rest.
We have registered it and opened an account with Citibank without a problem. After all, the purpose of the foundation's activities is charity, assistance to disabled children, veterans and investment projects. Friends invite me to come to the US, and I hope that I will be able to come and hold a meeting of the foundation in the near future.  
- And yet- to what extend American sanctions interfere with your and FIDE activities?
Under the US sanctions, I have visited more than 50 countries and opened charity "Chess for Peace" in London. I am met by the heads of state and prime ministers. And everyone supports my programme "Chess in schools".
Therefore, when they said that FIDE cannot function properly because of me, I calmly and using facts and figures explained to the Executive Board that this was not so. And if FIDE somehow had a problem with a Swiss bank that didn’t like my signature, then there are many other banks in the world. We can open an account in Sberbank and in other European banks. Many will gladly accept us. After all, we hold tournaments around the world and are obliged to maintain relations with all countries.
Many presidents and even states are under the sanctions in Africa. Even the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi was under sanctions of the US Treasury for 15 or 20 years. But this did not stop him from becoming the leader of a country with a billion populations. And Russia, being under sanctions, held Candidates Tournament, Women's World Championship, a match for the World Championship between Carlsen and Anand. The Russian President attended the closing ceremony.
And despite the difficult relationship with Ukraine, the women's world championship match was held in Lviv in 2016. Another example is Tehran, where the Women's World Championship was held this year. My task as FIDE President is to develop chess everywhere. Therefore, it should be out of politics. I have shown that the sanctions did not prevent me to travel around the world as a public figure over the past two years.
- You have offered to organize a meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Chen Un at a chessboard. How realistic is this idea?
The Korean peninsula is on the verge of war. Everyone is discussing how many aircraft carriers have sent the US to the shores of North Korea. Would a missile fly all they way from North Korea to America or it would not? The power of warheads and the range of missiles are discussed. But why not just sit down at a chessboard and shake hands, even if you do not play chess? Make a move, agree to a draw and discuss everything without nervousness and ambition.
My mission is to take away a vector of public discussion. We know the story of how two maharajas brought out two huge troops on the field. Some long-standing dispute was the reason for the war. Luckily, a wise old man came up and proposed to challenge each other’s wisdom before the battle. He offered them to play chess to determine who the smartest one was. Maharajas sat down at a chessboard and got carried away. The troops saw that both had forgotten about the battle, so they went home and started working on fields and raise their children.
- You also wanted to organize a match on 100 chessboards between the children of North and South Korea. Could it be a more realistic plan?
I hope that I will visit these countries soon and we will hold such a match on the 38th parallel. In any case, the leadership of both countries have already supported and approved it so I very much hope that we will hold a competition in a month.
By the way, it is possible not only in Korea. For example, we can mention Moldova and Transnistria. Igor Dodon is both the President of the country and the Chess Federation of Moldova. I brought him 1000 chess boards in the spring this year. He distributed 500 boards in Chisinau, and I gave the other 500 to the children of Transnistria. We held a joint tournament in which all the children played. Later, they joined us at the "White Rook".  
I also met with the head of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas. I spoke with the leadership of Israel. I donated $150 thousand; we bought chess boards, opened chess classes, not only in Israeli schools but also in Palestinian schools. And we held quite a few joint tournaments there.
- Many mathematicians and IT specialists are addicted to chess. Bill Gates dreamed of becoming a world champion in his childhood. And recently you said that you would like to encourage him and Mark Zuckerberg to cooperate with FIDE.
I constantly meet with outstanding people. And my mission is to popularize and develop chess, bringing the number of chess players in the world to one billion. Therefore, when Bill Gates played a short game with Magnus Carlsen, which was shown on all major TV channels, it was an important step in the right direction. Hundreds of millions watched!
When a three year old boy Misha Osipov played with Anatoly Karpov many children saw it on the First Channel and became interested in chess. I try to meet people and quote the words of the Pope, Buddhists Richard Gere, Steven Seagal and other famous people who like chess and directly say it, thereby contributing to its popularity. Moreover, I would not focus on FIDE in this kind of work.
- You invested tens of millions of personal funds in the development of chess and now, when this funding has decreased, your opponents in FIDE travel around the world looking for a new sponsor to become a president. Did they have any luck?
Firstly, I have no enemies. I did not criticize anyone or call him enemy. I just love chess. It is my hobby, life and work. When these "enemies" meet with businessmen and try to persuade them; they begin to ponder: "I will give a rouble or dollar now but how much and when would I get in return?"
The  businessmen that they had approached asked me afterwards: "we do not understand how your friends, whom you helped in difficult life situations, stretched out your hand and gave money are able now to not just  drive a knife but an axe in your back?"  
- It must be very frustrating. Everybody knows how much you did for these people...
When I served in the army, we were put in a very stressful situation so that some took offense but the sergeant major said, you can’t afford to be resentful. Nevertheless, I do not want anyone take advantage of me. In addition, I am a Buddhist, a follower of the Buddha. Buddha never fought but there is such a thing as reincarnation of Soul in Buddhism. And if people did not understand who did them good in this life, then possibly they will understand it in the next reincarnation so that their karma becomes unspoilt. And I myself have never betrayed anyone in my life.