Ruslan Ponomarev: Ilyumzhinov said that he was giving me an apartment in Elista. Kuchma presented me an apartment in Kiev instead.

I was interested deeply in the First Olympiad. I lived in the same room with the president of the Ukrainian Chess Federation Ivan Byk. Today, all players ask for single rooms, but then I did not pay attention to comfort concentrating on playing. Then the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov built Chess City for the Olympics in Elista. However, when we arrived nothing was ready. As a result, they reduced the number of tours. We played during weekends and we started late. We played in the building, where some repair work continued. However, when you are young, you don’t pay much attention to it.


According to the Eastern tradition, Ilyumzhinov tried to be hospitable. He arranged receptions for each team to leave a good impression on them. I remember that in his office he presented us with Kirsan vodka and black caviar from the Caspian Sea. Malanyuk immediately took the vodka. He said I was too young to drink it. We ate caviar for breakfast and thus gained strength.

Ilyumzhinov often offered me an apartment in Elista, even when I became the world champion in 2002. And for this I am grateful to him in my own way. He said, “Now everything is clear. We shall invite Ponomarev to Elista”. Thereby he pushed Ukraine to make its move. That was how my sponsors appeared in 1998.
And in 2002, Ilyumzhinov said at the celebration: "We will give him an apartment in Elista! Then our president Leonid Kuchma announced:  "No, we will give him an apartment in Kiev instead!" So I moved from Kramatorsk to Kiev. I think that Boris Ponomarev was also given an apartment as a coach.