Chess bits

From Antalya to Moscow, an unexpected handshake

FIDE Executive Board 2017For the past several days there is increased interest in chess politics, with one of the most visited articles on Chessdom being the Russian Chess Federation election details. Our email is now full of comments by chess fans, politicians and analysts about the elections, mainly focusing on the participation of Kirsan Ilymzhinov. Practically comments relate to the interesting fact that the FIDE Executive board voted against the participation in FIDE elections of Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, but now he is a Candidate in another election – the one of the Russian Chess Federation. What’s more, he seems to receive bizarre support – in a strange and unexpected twist Silvio Danailov, the man investigated for corruption of unfathomable proportions (see here, here, and here), and an ardent critic of Ilyumzhinov and Russian chess… is now their ardent supporter!

Hence, the chess politics is in full swing once again with elections coming not only in Russia, but soon in FIDE. So far Chessdom has covered every important election with impartial reporting and sticking only to the dry facts, and we will continue this tradition. The political season is officially open!

Today we start with an interesting document. This is the minutes of the 88th Congress and more specifically an excerpt of the Executive Board Meetings. In an extensive speech, the current main person in FIDE Georgios Makropoulos blasts open the current problems in the organization – the banking problems for FIDE, the US sanctions on Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the issues with Agon, the misinformation war, the broken promises, the lies and threats, misteriously disappearing funds, and more. We present you the most important details of the minutes as they are, in the words of Georgios Makropoulos, and will follow up this developing story. As Veselin Topalov says about the Batumi elections (see full quote and statement below), “Get popcorn, the show is assured!”

PDF of the official minutes

Georgios Makropoulos FIDE Deputy President, speaking on the internal crisis in FIDE during the FIDE Executive Board

The banking problems with the US Sanctions

Makropoulos speaks here about the problems that FIDE faced with its bank accounts in Switzerland and explains that the situation can be worse if Ilyumzhinov is re-elected as President and legal representative of FIDE.

“One of the most important efforts that we have to do in the last period… it was, despite of the problems that we were facing, to try to keep the stability in our organization. The truth is that it’s not easy. We face really serious problems that I have to refer to them, but what I want to say is that for me, all these problems, they were not political and they were not personal because many times it has been an effort for these problems to be presented as political problems between the people or personal problems. I would like to remind you that in Baku, in General Assembly, there was an effort to go to a voting against Kirsan Ilyumzhinov being president in FIDE under sanctions. It was not clear what exactly the people that had the initiative to present their proposals were looking for, vote of non-confidence, whether they were going to go farther to force Kirsan to resign. We stand by Kirsan, and we make it clear: we understand that the sanctions are a big problem that we have in FIDE, but we don’t believe that this Organization should insult Mr. Ilyumzhinov by trying to force him to resign. We don’t want this. We’re not looking for this, and at least few people there, they made it very clear. I can remember myself, Jorge Vega, Israel Gelfer, that we made very clear that what we believe is that Kirsan should not run to the next elections. And maybe on that moment there were people in the meeting that were thinking that we don’t believe really on this, and we say we are expressing this view because we just wanted to protect Kirsan on that moment. The truth is that we really believe this. And we have to make a big effort the next months to convince Kirsan that he should not run. I think Adrian can refer to the problems that already we have faced with our banks and our insurance company in Switzerland, and the situation, of course, it can be worse in case that Kirsan is the president because now we have stopped everything, all the efforts in Switzerland to take out our accounts from the banks there, because we have explained that Kirsan is not a part of the decision making procedure, that he is not involved in the business of FIDE, he’s our president only. And somehow we convinced them that they should not insist. But the truth is that if Kirsan could win these elections and comes back, they will believe, all of them, that we were cheating them, that we were lying to them, we are not serious organization. Immediately they will kick us out. So all these months we were trying to convince Kirsan not to run, to find an alternative. Somebody else could. We had even discussions about the possibility that Mr. Filatov could run. We had discussions even one year and a half about such a possibility or somebody else from FIDE, even from another country. Unfortunately, we could not reach an understanding that this is what we should do in FIDE. Kirsan really wished very much that he should run at least for one more term.”

The first meeting in Athens

The Presidential Board in Athens was turbulent. Ilyumzhinov tried to solve his personal issues with Agon within the FIDE Presidential Board.

“And this has a result to go to the FIDE meeting in March this year, end of March. All of you have received the Minutes of the two meetings that we had in March and April. So not to go into details, but I suppose you have read the minutes, and you know what happened in Athens. Unfortunately, there was a fight when we had a disagreement, but Kirsan should not use the board to resolve personal issues that he had with Agon. And then we faced the unpleasant situation that Kirsan, made a statement three times that he’s resigning. Maybe I can admit really that I was over necessary hard in my statements there and in my arguments, but really I was feeling that I could not support something which is not according with my principles. I think everybody knows here that I’m one of those that nobody can buy. I know that in elections many times it was discussed, even in the last elections. OK guys, you are making offers to everybody. Why are you not making offers to Makro? And the answer is because we know that we cannot buy him. And this… many years is this situation. So I was hoping that Kirsan, also knows this. I cannot go to such a situation. And then, of course, when we finished the meeting, and Kirsan went back to Russia, and we published his statement that he’s resigning, and we called for an extraordinary meeting, we faced another situation that Kirsan, he was informing the media that Americans are behind, Garry Kasparov, that we are working for them. Nigel in the beginning, then me, then Zurab and I don’t know who others… we have a deal, probably, and we are working for Garry and America (USA). Something very bad, very sad, and it has nothing to do with the truth. And of course, we published in FIDE website what was the truth. I informed Mr. Filatov that this is the truth. There are the minutes. Please, if you want, you can send somebody to check. We have the tape also.”

The second meeting in Athens

Makropoulos continues with the second meeting in Athens in April, where Ilyumzhinov himself confirmed the previous decisions of the Presidential Board.

“So, after this Kirsan came to the second meeting in Athens. He apologized for all this, let’s say, I don’t want to say “lies”, this wrong information that he had given to the media and for me, to the authorities also, because also officials have been informed about the situation. We reached the decision which we have confirmed just a few minutes ago. And we thought OK, now this is finished, we can go to an easy life, we can continue working. Elections are after one and a half year, we can really be able to continue talking with Kirsan to convince him that what he was trying to do was wrong. But unfortunately, this is not the truth.”

Keeping the promises

Makropoulos informs the meeting that Ilyumzhinov and his partners start to attack with no exception, anyone he thought that could run against him

“I believe that things became worse because in that moment, he thought OK, he had to attack on a personal level several of us, especially those he knew that we don’t agree or that if somebody was possible to run against Kirsan. Then he was thinking that he should attack. I had a discussion with Lewis Ncube in Athens. I told him, OK, I don’t know, for us it’s a principal matter. It’s not the point who is the president who can bring the money today. FIDE is first for us. It’s not how much money the president can bring for Africa, for Russia, Central, Latin America. The principle is that we should protect this organization. And at that moment I said, OK, I don’t know, maybe Azmaiparashvili can run. He’s the president of Europe. If he wants to run, if he finds some small amount of money for travelling expenses for his serve to visit federations, he can run. We are going to support him. The truth is that was not really my mind that this is what we were going to do. For me, it was one of the possibilities. In two days, we received a letter, an email from Kirsan saying that Zurab, he promised two million dollars before elections for promotion of the Olympiad and for development for the federations. And from these two million finally he’s not going to give what he has promised, two million dollars. You know why I’m referring to this? Because for many months now we have received such letters, and I have decided not to answer to any letter of Kirsan because I was feeling that I should not increase the level of the fight. For me, this is a room we should say our opinions openly, we should criticize each other, and not Facebook, not internet, not such kind of letters and such accusations. That’s why I am referring to this point because maybe the people, they don’t understand why I choose to refer to these points. Because I never have answered to these letters and I have been provoked to answer. And maybe people think that I have not answered because there are no answers. But there are, of course, answers, and unfortunately, the answers are very strong. So, Zurab was accused that in Tromso he had promised two million dollars but he never gave to the federations. The truth, of course, is not this. The truth was in some statement that Georgia is going to spend two million dollars for promotion and development. And I don’t know how many hundreds they’re spending for promotion, but the real bit was 1.2 million euros for tickets, to support the federations, and above this we had agreed that they would pay 0.5 million euros for development. 1.7 million on that moment when we agreed, it was over 2.1 million dollars. And Georgia, they paid these. They are doing this. So I could not understand why Kirsan was accusing Zurab that he’s not paying this money. At the same time, Kirsan promised at the elections, on the last day of the elections when Garry was promising ten millions for FIDE, Kirsan increased the offer, 500,000 for Africa today, and today 20 million euros for FIDE. Of course, he never sent anything. At least, Zurab is sending the money. Georgia is paying this money. And then what is important for me is that in Chengdu, at the presidential board meeting in China, Kirsan signed a contract with Georgia. He signed there for these 500,000 euros. He didn’t ask two million because this was never an existing number, this was never a bid. So the contract with Georgia, and we have the contract here, by the way, it has been signed by Kirsan in China and refers to 500,000 euros. So why did he make then an effort to create all these stories? Beside of this, from these 500,000 that was for development, and Adrian in his report is going to give details about this money we have receivedI think, 300,000 by now and 200,000 more we will receive this and the next year. It was the question why we spent about 46,000 to support the individual European women’s championship which has been organized in Georgia. And this was an event that it was supposed that the previous administration of Europe had to find an organizer, Mr. Danailov. He didn’t succeed, so when Zurab became president, they had no organizer. In Chengdu, in the meeting, this was discussed. Israel remembered very well when Zurab referred to this point, and nobody had an objection. I and Zurab, we have discussed this before the meeting, to support with 46,000. I, Zurab, and Kirsan before this meeting we agreed to support with 46,000 the Georgian federation from their own money. And today Zurab was accused that somehow he was taken care for this championship and that this was not the original idea of the 500,000 euros. So, the only difference for me is that Kirsan had not the same reaction in Chengdu as he had recently because in Chengdu, of course, Zurab was a friend of Kirsan. Today he was looking at him as an opponent. And he was trying, for me, wrongly, to defame his opponent. After this I can say that the treasurer faced the same kind of effect to defame him. I don’t know if it was Kirsan personally or Berik. Adrian will refer to this. But they were talking with the president, the new president of the Swiss Chess Federation trying to convince him that Adrian is doing a very bad job in FIDE. And you know what the situation is. Adrian, I can say, from the moment when we realized that for years we were presenting wrong budgets in FIDE, is the one who actually succeeded today to bring back the situation where FIDE has plus. And we’re hoping by the end of next year that we would come to situation when FIDE would have plus two million or over. So, if somebody is doing his job and he’s doing a good job, I don’t understand this effort to speak with people and say, “Oh, this guy…” It’s horrible. Very bad job.”

Ugly attacks

Makropoulos continues his speech referring to lies and threats people receive from Ilyumzhinov and his followers

“I can say that there are worse than that. There are personal threats; personal threats against people; personal threats against Geoffrey Borg that his visa would be cancelled in Russia; his residence in Dubai would be canceled because Kirsan has high relations there. And, of course, when Geoffrey speaks with Kirsan, and says “ OK, Kirsan, but I cannot understand why you’re going to this level’’. Kirsan says, “No, it’s not me. It’s Russia behind me. Putin.” In many things, ugly things, Russia is behind, it’s not Kirsan who is pushing this. And of course, the Russian President. And I can say that this is completely wrong. For me, this is the worst. And Andrey Filatov, I’m telling you that this is very bad because this is very bad for your country, this is very bad for your federation, this is very bad for your president. Because I personally believe that Russia has nothing to do with these ugly things, and President Putin has nothing to do with these ugly things. And really I’m expecting from you to stop this kind of propaganda. And if you cannot alone, we are here to help you. And if you don’t need our help and you don’t want, we will do it for you. It is not possible that we are creating here a political fight against Americans, against Russians, against presidents, Obama, Trump, Putin. I’m sure they have nothing to do with our family and our federation.

“Chess in Schools” project in Russia?

There are letters and “contracts” with Russian regions and entities that imply that FIDE asks for money for chess in school programs. But none of the projects brought any income to FIDE or Russian Chess Federation. Where did the money go?

“I can say also that we face a lot of insulting comments and threats against the executive director, Nigel Freeman. But we have faced another problem which I don’t know, Polina, we have distributed these copies? I have distributed a packet like this concerning “Chess in Schools” project in Russia. The first time that I realized that something is going wrong in Russia with “Chess in Schools” project that was supposedly supported by FIDE was when I had been asked to sign a letter to Vice Prime Minister, one of the Vice Prime Ministers in Russia, Mr. Dvorkovich, ex-President of the Russian Chess Federation. We would informing him we are very happy with the cooperation, that we have so long time, and we were asking him to approve a project for “Chess in Schools” for the Railways because I think he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors there or something like this. I said why I should? When we had this cooperation? Why I should sign such a letter for Mr. Dvorkovich? What is the project? We did not know anything. And I was afraid that somebody was trying to involve Mr. Dvorkovich to this business that money would be paid but not to FIDE, to another organization that they have set up there. And of course, I refused, and we discussed this in the previous board one and a half year ago, and I saw Andrey was really surprised and angry that he didn’t know anything. And later, of course, we got an answer from the Railways that they have rejected this project. But at the same time, we’ve got many other contracts to local governors asking for support for “Chess in Schools” project. And we have asked the Russian Federation, “What is going on?” Do they know? Because we don’t know anything. Because the argument was that “This is a project approved by President Putin, and here is FIDE to implement this and pay the money to this charity or local foundation, not to Russian Federation or FIDE.” And of course, Andrey Filatov until now, didn’t answer if he knows anything. Silence, I believe he’s shocked like us. This is the problem. The man, he doesn’t want to think that he has to give an answer here.”

FIDE travel funds

Makropoulos gives numbers of the FIDE budget showing that the money is spent by Ilyumzhinov and Berik Balgabaev.

“Another effort to show that we are doing bad things in this organization, was a letter of Kirsan to FIDE asking in August how much money I have spent from FIDE for this year for traveling? Because Kirsan is thinking that I’m spending the money of FIDE to travel for the elections. So I give you the numbers, the money we dispensed one year before elections last time like now for Kirsan and Berik because they are traveling together and the year of the elections. So, 2013 we spent for the traveling of Kirsan 212,000 euros. For Berik, 65,000 euros. In 2014, we spent for Kirsan 184,000 euros, for Berik 75,000 euros. Together they both spent around 550,000 euros in these two years. Up to August FIDE spent for me 12,000 euros. It’s ridiculous, the effort to defame somebody because you think that he’s spending money when you were spending a fortune before the elections, and now you’re targeting, trying to find the reasons. I don’t understand this. 12,000 euros has spent FIDE for me up to August. Few thousands more up to now because I traveled to Tbilisi for the World Cup, Romania for the European Youth Championship, and here, Turkey. It’s not possible that by the end of the year that I will spend even one third from Berik was spending in one year. And what an effort to make an attack!”

Health issues

Makropoulos speaks openly about his health problem and the truth about his treatment.

“But you know, there worst for me in all these accusations is that it has become personal and on a very low level. There are rumors that they’re spreading and discussing with people, and unfortunately, people are coming to us and they’re telling us. Discussions in Africa, discussions here. Makro is spending the money of FIDE for his personal medical treatment. I’ll tell you what is true and what is a huge lie here. The truth is that everybody knows that in 2014 I had a serious problem, I had to make an operation, and still know I’m one of those who need a treatment because, unfortunately, cancer is not something that you can escape in one day. So, Kirsan, what he did in 2014 when he heard, before elections, that I was in the hospital? He did something very good really: he sent 100.000 dollars to FIDE and he said, “this money is to take care of Makro’s needs and treatment.” And FIDE opened an account, and up to now FIDE is using this money. They pay directly the hospitals or doctors. Kirsan., this is the letter that you signed on that period to FIDE. It’s from the archives of FIDE. And for me, Kirsan did something nice that today has turned into something very ugly: that he never paid this money. And they say, no, no, no, Kirsan, he never paid this money. Kirsan paid for his first operation. I don’t know, ten years ago, when I had heart problems. Something that was so good and so nice, you know, has turned to a really very ugly thing. And really I believe that this is not Kirsan. I cannot believe that this behavior is Kirsan’s behavior. And among the people that are running for him, I don’t believe even that this is Abundo. Because he knows the problems that we had with Campo, and how we helped, how Kirsan helped also. But there are all the other little parrots that are running around Kirsan giving all these lies to the federations, to the people, trying to make some money of Kirsan, spreading all this mud around in our family. And you know them, you have seen them here. You heard from their mouths what I say the stories and probably other stories that I don’t know.”

Lies and threats

Makropoulos asks the lies and threat to be stopped adding that the Ilyumzhinov followers are mainly to be blamed for these.

“But this is something that we should stop. Because Kirsan, if one year before the elections you had reached this level, for me, this is the bottom. What are you going to do tomorrow? Are you going to threaten our lives? Our families? Our friends? And Russia would be behind this, and President Putin would be behind this? We should stop this. And we should stop here immediately. And we should isolate those that are distributing these lies. Our delegates, I’m telling you openly, you should spit on the face when they’re coming to you. If they want to come with these lies, ask them to come… presence, we are in front of them because they are cowards. In front of us they never say anything like this. Because I’m telling you, with papers we can prove everything from what they say. Now. I really believe, Kirsan, that we should find a way to continue our life, stopping all this. You should control these people. Don’t listen to them. Don’t adapt their stories because you think that they can help you. You cannot win votes with these stories, Kirsan. You will lose elections badly, and in any case I believe you’re going to lose, but you will lose badly. Kirsan, you have a history in chess. You will lose your name in chess. And everybody knows here that you are maybe the most important president whom we had in chess. You have helped so much our sport. You helped, clubs, federations, even when you are exaggerating the numbers of your foundations. Even with this, we know that you have spent huge money for chess. I know very well, dozens of millions. But why now you are doing this? And these little people, Kirsan. First of all, they cannot help you, are unable to help you. If the team that you are running for the election is this, it’s a disaster. But worse, Kirsan, they don’t have principles. These people don’t have principles. And I know that you have. That’s why I am very surprised with this situation. I will not say anything more. If you want to make any comment, if you want, gentlemen, to ask me anything about the accusations that you are telling to the people not in front of us, ask us here so everybody can listen. Is there anybody who wants to speak?”

—– End of minutes excerpts

The words of Makropoulos come from the official minutes of FIDE. It is strange that neither Ilyumzhinov nor someone from his supporters answered any of the points raised by Makropoulos. We hope to receive details and the full picture soon.


The Russian Chess Federation elections

As already mentioned, Russian Chess Federation election’s article on Chessdom provoked a huge reaction and interest by the chess community. It is apparently a very important piece of the political puzzle. Multiple topics in the speech of Makropoulos hint the huge movement in Russian chess politics and the connection to the FIDE elections. The shock of the day: it is apparent that the main character in the sad story of the alleged missing funds from Europe (ECU “Delaware” being under of various investigations) and one of the outspoken enemies of the Russian chess players Silvio Danailov is entering the mix of the Russian elections in his favorite way – distributing slander and accusations for Russian players and citizens. As we will not speculate, rather stick to the facts again, we will leave the ex-world champion Veselin Topalov to brings clarity to the situation (answering a fellow chess person):

Danailov tweets Kirsan 1

Veselin Topalov, “Brilliant analysis of “Academic” as usual! Two things he does not know: if Ilyumzhinov wins the FIDE elections, Silvio will return on a white horse and will either be Deputy President or CEO of FIDE. Then FIDE will only recognize the old [Bulgarian] federation (guess who’s still the president there) and Silvio’s enemies have to prepare for the worst because there will be no mercy. They must pray to God for a win of Makropoulos and Ilyumzhinov to lose. We will talk again at the end of September after the Batumi election. Get the popcorn, the show is assured!”

Topalov’s words are later confirmed by the attitude of Silvio Danailov. In the midst of a crisis where ECU filed a criminal complaint against him in Slovenia,he was attacking Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Now there are signs of clear support. Here is a “before” and “after” tweet of Danailov’s attitude towards Ilyumzhinov.

Before Danailov was against Kirsan, publishing tweets and attacking him on a daily basis. Something changed...

Before Danailov was against Kirsan, publishing tweets and attacking him on a daily basis. Something changed…

Danailov supports Ilyumzhinov in his race with Filatov

Now Danailov supports Ilyumzhinov in his race with Filatov

The political season is open and Chessdom will follow it on a daily basis. Do you have your popcorn ready?

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