Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Time" on the Politics of the FIDE Presidential Election

I think this is as clear a description of the events surrounding the recent FIDE Presidential election as I've read anywhere online.  It is understandable even to those who know nothing about chess.  I believe Karl Rove gives lessons to the boys in the Kremlin.

Russia's Chess Feud: Checkmate, Kremlin
By Simon Shuster / Moscow, October 14, 2010


From the 1972 Cold War battle of Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, to the defection of some of the Soviet Union's greatest players to the West, chess has long been a proxy for international conflict, and a tool to project power. In Vladimir Putin's Russia, it seems, not much has changed.

This year, members of the creaky, chipped Central House of Chess in Moscow staged a mutiny against the Kremlin — one that saw two of the game's greatest legends in open conflict with the country's political elite. The coup ended in pathetic failure on Monday, but by the time it had run its course — which featured armed goons taking over the Chess House and talk of UFOs — the Kremlin showed that it cannot stomach even a marginal threat to its influence, not even when it comes to comes to the politics of chess.

The trouble started in the spring, when two former world chess champions and rivals, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, decided to join forces to run against the incumbent president of the game's international ruling body, which is known as FIDE. This irked the Russian government. Kasparov's political activism against Russian Prime Minister Putin in recent years has branded him an enemy of the state: He is banned from Russian politics, frequently arrested, and his projects tend to be harpooned by the Russian bureaucracy at every step. Aside from that, the Kremlin already has a loyal ally as FIDE president, and didn't much care to replace him.

For the past 15 years, FIDE has been ruled by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a Putin loyalist who governed the poor Russian republic of Kalmykia for 17 years before agreeing to step down last month. As a consolation prize, the Kremlin is widely thought to have promised him success in the FIDE elections. But Karpov and Kasparov (who served as Karpov's campaign manager and fundraiser) embarked on a globe-trotting campaign that made this promise difficult to keep. After visiting some 30 countries, the duo managed to recruit the support of chess federations in the United States, Canada and most of western Europe, appearing to split the world of chess along Cold War lines ahead of the FIDE vote last month.

Rest of article.

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