Walking through Elista guided by a blogger

The role of the individual in history is great, and whether someone likes it or not, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has done incredibly much to create a modern image of Kalmykia.

I really do not want to make a judgement: it’s irrelevant whether he is good or bad. What is more important is that this person has changed the image of the whole republic. Now tell me, has anyone in Russia could compare with him? Could anyone be so influential?
I can only think of Ramzan Kadyrov, who created the modern Grozny, but it’s hardly a good example. You cannot compare Ramzan and Kirsan’s budgets.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been chess lover all his life, and as a result, Elista became the chess capital of the provincial Kalmykia.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, as the proud son of the Kalmyk people, is a true Buddhist. And it’s not a coincidence that Sri Lanka passed the relics of Buddha Shakyamuni on to Elista.
Kirsan built khuruls throughout Kalmykia.
And what can you say about Ostap Bender Avenue? Who else will dare to name a street of some region’s capital after a clever swindler? Nobody but Kirsan, who not only did it, but has also erected a monument to the unforgettable chess tournament in Vasyuki.
Ilyumzhinov has a somewhat eccentric reputation. I think he is not afraid to fantasize and he lives a full life. He is not afraid to take on the impossible. This is not because he is eccentric; it’s us who are bored with life.
Kirsan has many haters and critics but too many of them have nothing to be proud of. So they accused him of turning the Kalmykia, which had greatly changed under his leadership, into a Potemkin village while it still poor and backward. But what do they compare it with? Singapore?
You can only compare what has been and what has become. And if you look at the matter from such an angle, it turns out that Kalmykia has become noticeably enriched. Previously, it was one of the last in terms of development of roads and household gasification and now it is one of the first.
Well, it could have happened that no one in the world knew what Kalmykia is. But today, Elista is full of tourists – African, Americans, Germans, French, British and Australians.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a businessman, an outstanding chess player, polyglot (he fluently speaks Japanese and English) and a Buddhist, is a very tolerant person. Once he was asked about the brain drain from Kalmykia, about the young people leaving the republic to study and work.
He responded very well to this question: "Let them go. Let them learn new things and improve. And if they are better off there, it’s perfect. And if they want to return, they will bring their valuable experience to Kalmykia."
I like this man. He is a bold, energetic and ingenious person. He believes in himself and he is brilliantly educated. I wish everybody was like him.