Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "I Prevent Any Act of Terrorism in the Republic of Kalmykia for 17 years"

– Kirsan Nikolayevich, you are one of the unique leaders, setting tenure record as the head of a Russian region for 17 years.  What accomplishments in Kalmykia are you most proud of and what plans have you failed to realize?

– As for the ‘record’, it is a rather strong expression.  Although, I have probably made some kind of a record.  Since 1993, I have never had a holiday, took no sick leave and worked seven days a week.  I appear at my working place at nine in the morning on Saturdays, Sundays, New Year’s eve and 1st of January.

I usually end up my working day in one or two o’clock in the morning and start to work at eight in the morning.  This is because a man can do things he loves round the clock. I do the work I like it.  And that means a lot of work.
Five years ago, I felt that I wanted to change my little hobby.  It’s great to work hard! The most important thing is not to be ashamed of what you have left behind. The thousands of kilometres of roads, the hundreds kilometres of the pipelines, the built temples that did not exist before I came.  Hospitals, schools.  Houses for the poor...
If, upon my resignation, there were heaps of ruins and the society was in constant conflicts, this would be a clear sign that I did my job poorly.  However, I left my post with the most positive results.  And I am proud of it.
For 17 years I prevented any act of terrorism on the territory of Kalmykia and, believe me, it means a lot in a region such as ours.  Our close neighbours are Dagestan, Chechnya with their wars and conflicts.  So far, there is the peaceful sky over Kalmykia.
I believe that I have performed the tasks that have been put before me.  My successor got the stable republic with the good foundation for further successful development.  Could it be that I had omitted something? Possibly. The one who came after me will have to catch up.
– Is it you vocation to be a leader?
– I am absolutely convinced that I got involved in the politics by an accident.  The first time I was elected President of FIDE in Paris on November 24, 1995.  At that time the chess world was split.  Garry Kasparov had left FIDE.  The Professional Chess Association was established.  World Championships were held independently and everyone was always asking who the real Champion is.
By the way, after we have overcome the split in 2002, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik and other leading players had signed the agreement with FIDE in Prague that the title of the World Champion is the essential property of FIDE.
The IOC Executive Board recognized chess as a sport and FIDE as the only international organization representing the interests of the chess players in Seoul In 1999.  Today we have one Champion – Magnus Carlsen.  And nobody asks what type of the championship he belongs to.
At the outset of my programme I put several objectives to guide the organisation out of the political and financial crisis in order to unite the chess world and make chess an official sport.
Today our main task is to get the status of the Olympic kind of sport and to enter into the programme of the main planetary four years’ circles.
When I took office FIDE had debts only.  These days we have millions of dollars and euros in our account.  We have not had any corruption scandal for 20 years.  And in general, we are the only sports organization in the world, which budget is published on the website and all the expenses are shown online.  I do not even have the right to sign the financial documents.  It has the general treasurer elected by the Congress and the executive director.
–Some time ago you have bought Kasparov's chess crown. Why did you do that?
– It happened in May 1991, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.  I bought from Garry the diamond crown made by ‘Korloff’ company.  It weighs 7.5 kilograms and has 1018 black and white diamonds.  Kasparov has been awarded this crown by defeating Karpov in Lyon in December 1990.
Kasparov said that after selling the crown he would give the money to the Armenian refugees.  A sheikh from Kuwait wanted to buy it at that time but the deal had never taken place because of the war with Iraq.  Kasparov offered it to me.  I didn’t really need the crown.  I bought it to support Kasparov.
Its’ cost is specified in the contract.  However, I have no right to disclose the amount of the deal yet.  Last time I saw the crown 15 years ago, it was in Zurich in one of the vaults of the Union bank of Scotland.
-You have done a lot for Russia, participating in the drafting of the constitution, making a significant contribution to the development of democracy, creating and implementing the production system of the stock raising.  What projects are you engaged in now?
– Are you referring to business?  Now I have more than 20 business projects throughout the world – in Russia, Bulgaria, France, UAE, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.  However, I have absolutely no time to be engaged in the business activities.  Thus the people, who are good at it, are managing my business projects.
I have great pleasure of investing in sports, opening the chess academies and organizing tournaments.  In recent years I have sponsored more than 20 major chess competitions.  My main project, which I have given all my strength and energy, is: ‘One billion chess players – one billion clever people’.  One billion playing chess people is one billion smart people.
– Do you play chess?
– Of course.  Although I have extremely little time for this.


Margarita Sumarokova