FIDE elections: Karpov suggests link between Ilyumzhinov and Yudina murder

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Ilyumzhinov vs KarpovIn the increasingly fierce election race between Anatoly Karpov and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the 12th World Champion has now for the first time suggested a link between the current FIDE President and the murder of activist Larissa Yudina, in 1998.

The article, The Truth About Kirsan, appeared on the Karpov 2010 Campaign website. In it, Karpov not only mentions Ilyumzhinov's well-known statements about his alien abductions and his friendship with leaders such as Saddam Hussein, but also touches upon a subject that has been avoided until now in FIDE presidential elections: the murder of Kalmykian activist and journalist Larissa Yudina:

There are darker aspects of Kirsan’s reputation. Larissa Yudina, a prominent journalist and political leader with the political party Yabloko in Kalmykia opposed to Kirsan, was murdered in June, 1998. According to the Yabloko statement, “The question about Ilyumzhinov’s personal involvement in the crime is still open, as the organizer of the murder S.Vaskin (a person with repeated convictions) was Ilyumzhinov’s Legal Advisor.” This murder has not been forgotten in Russia, and references to it still appear when Kirsan makes appearances as FIDE President.

Larissa Yudina was murdered on June 8, 1998 in Elista, the captial of Kalmykia, of which Ilyumzhinov has been President since 1993. Prior to the murder, she had published several critical articles on the Kalmykian President in the newspaper Sovietskaya Kalmykia Sevodnya. In November 1999, Sergey Vaskin and Vladimir Shanukov, two former advisors of Ilyumzhinov, were convicted for the murder by the Kalmykian Court of Justice.

Because so many things are still unclear about the murder, the subject has never played a prominent role in FIDE election races so far. Now, Karpov explicitly makes the link between Ilyumzhinov and Yudina . He refers to the site of the Russian Yabloko party, which has extensively researched the murder and has been demanding Ilyumzhinov be removed from power. One of the key questions still unanswered is the possible motive of the killers. Nothing is said about it in the court verdict, despite the mention of a political link.

One of the few Western journalists who have written about the murder, Martin van den Heuvel, wrote a book in Dutch (Checkmate in Kalmykia, 2000) about Ilyumzhinov and the murder in Elista. He makes two observations that have rarely been mentioned in non-Russian publications. During the trial, an eye-witness report mentioning Ilyumzhinov's brother Vyacheslav at the place and time of the killing - Yudina's flat - was handed on tape to prosecutor Tkachiev, but for some reason it wasn't used in the trial. Another mysterious aspect is the fact that Vaskin and Shamukov never appealed the decision of the court.

Karpov notes the murder hasn't been forgotten yet. On May 26, 2010, members of Yabloko protested in Moscow outside the Echo Moskvi radio station, where Ilyumzhinov was present at the time. Ilyumzhinov himself has always denied any involvement in the affair. Chess journalist Sarah Hurst pointed out that "Ilyumzhinov has been quizzed about his involvement on television. His response was to amaze the interviewer by announcing his intention to stand for President of Russia in the year 2000."

After the trial, in which his aides were sentenced to 21 years in prison, Ilyumzhinov stated in an interview that "the court had confirmed that this crime had been due to a common domestic dispute", however this was in direct conctradiction to the court's own statement which clearly speaks of political motives. Currently, his campaign focuses on visiting as many countries as possible, recently including Peru, Palestine and Syria.

Ilyumzhinov's campaign team now claims the support of 87 countries and dismisses Karpov's campaign as being solely focused on negative aspects of the FIDE President's reputation. ChessVibes will soon publish an interview with one of the Karpov team members addressing this and other criticism.

Meanwhile, many experts believe that Karpov’s victory depends largely on the court case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne. Karpov questions the validity of Ilyumzhinov’s claim to have been nominated by the Russian Chess Federation as their candidate for the FIDE presidential elections. Besides, the validity of Ilyumzhinov’s nomination by Argentina and Mexico is also questioned, as is Mrs. Beatriz Marinello’s nomination by Chile and Brazil (relevant because a team must include a female delegate).

According to the New York Times a CAS hearing will take place already in September, which would mean Karpov's White & Case firm successfully convinced CAS of the importance of dealing with this case before the FIDE presidential elections in Khanty-Mansiysk. However, thus far the hearing isn't mentioned on the CAS website, i.e. their list of hearings hasn't been updated since August 10th.
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