Executive Board Asks Ilyumzhinov Not To Run For President
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov seems to have lost further ground inside the World Chess Federation. A non-binding motion asking him not to run for FIDE President in 2018 was passed by the FIDE Executive Board on Friday in Antalya, Turkey.
The motion, voted upon anonymously, was non-binding and therefore strictly speaking there are no consequences. If Ilyumzhinov wants to run for President again, nobody can stop him. But the figures were clear: 37 in favor, 20 against and two abstentions. Ilyumzhinov's supporters are now in a minority.
The FIDE Executive Board (EC) is a body of FIDE that is somewhere between the Presidential Board (the day-to-day management team) and the General Assembly (all member federations, who get together every two years to decide on major decisions). EC meetings are taking place on Friday and Saturday during the FIDE Congress, which is underway alongside the European Club Cup in Antalya.
The conclusion after the first day is that the position of the FIDE President hasn't become any more stable in the past six months. He survived a crisis earlier this year when the FIDE website claimed his resignation, he subsequently denied, and then could stay on as FIDE President while the limitation of his powers remained.
The Executive Board today confirmed Ilyumzhinov's weakened position. Not only was the non-binding motion accepted by close to a 2:1 margin, which suggests that he has lost the faith of most of the member federations. Furthermore, in another vote the Board confirmed unanimously the full delegation of the FIDE Presidential powers to the Deputy President.
In short: Ilyumzhinov is still the President, but a majority wants him out by 2018, and it's Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos who is in control.
According to English Chess Federation delegate Malcolm Pein, who is attending the meetings in Antalya, it is not clear whether Ilyumzhinov will run for another term, even though he said so in a statement to Chess.com mid-April. "He is certainly acting like he will run," Pein told Chess.com.
In two tweets on Friday Pein claimed that several chess federations have received letters from national embassies declaring that Ilyumzhinov has been nominated. In 2014 he defeated Garry Kasparov in the presidential elections partly thanks to pressure from Russian embassies, as was claimed by the Kasparov team.
@TelegraphChess) October 13, 2017
2/2 Other federations got the same letter: India Sweden Nepal Israel I know about so far - reckon that kicks off Kirsan's campaign #fide— Malcolm Pein ( @TelegraphChess) October 13, 2017
Ilyumzhinov's position in FIDE has been shaky ever since the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against him in November 2015. One year ago, at the FIDE Congress in Baku, FIDE officials declared that the situation was not serious enough for Ilyumzhinov to step down, but if things wouldn't change, he couldn't run for President in 2018.
The only Vice President openly supporting Ilyumzhinov back in April was Andrey Filatov, the President of the Russian Chess Federation. This, and the Russian embassy declaring Ilyumzhinov's nomination, suggests that the Kremlin is still behind the current FIDE President.
However, further support is declining. Today's Executive Board meeting emphasized that it's going to be more difficult than ever for Ilyumzhinov to run for, and win another election.
The former President of Kalmykia has been the leader of FIDE since 1995. In the last three elections he defeated candidates Bessel Kok, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov with big margins. He might have been keeping his enemies close, but now he has to fear his closest friends.