Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: "Happy is the Man Who Does What He Likes"

The most striking thing I remember from my childhood is that my parents did not restrict me in any way. I did not go to a nursery or kindergarten. I was educated at home and in the street. There was a street full of action on the outskirts of Elista. We were scrumping for apples in the orchards, playing badminton and chess, hiking. It was an active childhood.

When I was five years old, my parents took me to the kindergarten because I was misbehaving too much. I could not understand why everybody had to sleep after lunch when the sun was shining. There was an open window in the bedroom on the ground floor. I escaped through it to the street. Climbed over the fence and ran to  play with the children. Later they found me in the pond with the boys.

Grandpa taught me to play chess. I became the champion of the street when I was about four years old. I won my first prize that turned out to be a case of beer. However, I was given a bottle of lemonade and a korzhik (the Russian hard bakery, -Ed.). I was offended.
We did not have a TV set. The first one was owned by the neighbours down the street. There was only one program shown for 2 hours in the evenings only. Everyone sat around it waiting for a start.
After school, instead of going to college, I went to work at a factory. They disapproved me. The school master, seeing me on the street, cried and said: "Kirsan, that’s not what we have educated you for." However, I was happy standing at the machine-tool exceeding the factory quota.
I could have taken a privileged student’s place in the Moscow State University but I went to serve in the army instead. What for? To test myself as a man. Yes, I had the good working brains and hands. However would I be able to survive in a team of strangers with its’ bullying, wearing soldiers’ footcloths, washing the greasy floors in the kitchen, peeling potatoes for the whole regiment and making 10 or 15 km cross-country runs?
My mother, who is 82 years old, is still working as a veterinary surgeon. My 86 years old father, who was an engineer, works in the Council of Veterans. They gave me the opportunity to do what I wanted. My son liked to be engaged in sports and I let him to do what he liked.
I do not understand parents who are apprehensive when their children go to college. They practically pass exams and do their studies for them. I am pressurized by the pleads (I'm a member of the Board of Trustees of MGIMO): "Kirsan, help! It is so easy for you! » I think if someone is not enrolled he should go in the army or work. One time, however, I made an exception. There were some special circumstances in that family.
In our society it is not the profession that is prestigious but the university in which one studied. I revolted against it and that’s why out of spite I became a worker.
Why are there 64 cells on the chessboard? After scientists have deciphered the genetic code of DNA, they found out that it consists of 64 codons. I think this is not accidental.
Do I miss power? (Ilyumzhinov was the head of Kalmykia from 1993 to 2010 approx.,-Ed.).  Absolutely not, because it depends on your inner state of mind. A person can be happy doing what he likes. One can be happy collecting stamps or harvesting. And be unhappy having all the power and all the money in the world. Those who miss power are sick people with the damaged personality.
I was the youngest member of the RSFSR Parliament.  I was only 27 years old. I became the President when I was 30 years old. I have friends who break down if they lose the post of a governor, minister or deputy. They consider it as the end of life and start to drink heavily or plunge themselves into some other self-destroying spree. I do not understand this.
There are three harmonies in a man. The first one is with the Creator. The second one is with those who are around you, the family and friends. And the third one is with yourself. If you have a harmony within then you are happy.