FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov popped in to see an old friend in Tripoli on the 11th and 12th June; the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi is struggling to hang on to power in a civil war in Libya, and the International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for his arrest for crimes against humanity.
Ilyumzhinov is visiting Libya as part of FIDE's "Year of Africa", promoting chess in the region.
He even had a game of chess with the Libyan leader for the cameras, as shown on Libyan State Television:
How could any sane person think this is good publicity for chess? The English Chess Federation has been the first to formally comment:
PRESS RELEASE: The English Chess Federation wishes to express, in the strongest possible terms, its condemnation of the recent visit by the President of FIDE (The World Chess Federation) to Libya on 11 and 12 June. Meeting with Colonel Gaddafi, at a time when there is virtually universal condemnation of his actions in his own country, brings chess into disrepute.
FIDE's own press release regarding the meeting is below:
Chess is not left behind in Libya
On 11 June FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov met with Dr. Mustafa Zaidi, Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Tripoli. Dr. Mustafa Zaidi came back from China where he had been on an official visit.
One may recall that the World Chess Championship 2004 took place in Tripoli, the Libyan Jamahiriya. 128 chess players from 64 countries participated in the competition, including the Russian Federation, China, the United States of America and Great Britain. GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan became the World Champion 2004 defeating Michael Adams of England in the finals.
During a warm conversation FIDE President thanked the Libyan Minister for his assistance in the FIDE activity. The Parties discussed the opportunities of their future mutual cooperation in the official international tournaments organization, FIDE Seminars for Arbiters and Trainers and the International FIDE Academy establishment to introduce FIDE programme "Chess in Schools". They also exchanged their opinions on the nowadays issues which interest both Parties.
On 12 June Kirsan Ilyumzhinov also met with Mr. Muammar Gaddafi's son Mr. Muhammad Gaddafi. He is the leader of the Libyan Olympic Committee. Other meetings have been also planned by the FIDE President.
Visit of the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to Libya is held in the frameworks of the Africa Year 2011 which has been declared by the World Chess Federation.