'Schism in Russian Chess Federation' over nomination Karpov - UPDATE2: Ilyumzhinov reacts, press release RCF

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Ilyumzhinov vs KarpovUpdates: Sosonko comments, open letter Ilyumzhinov, RCF press release Yesterday, in a bizarre series of events, the Russian Chess Federation nominated Anatoly Karpov as candidate for the FIDE presidential elections, contrary to the earlier endorsement of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The result, according to the current FIDE President, is a "schism" in the Russian Federation. Developing story.

Just a few weeks ago, we reported on the RCF's endorsement of Ilyuzmhinov, leading to furious reactions in the Karpov camp. Yesterday, the official meeting regarding about nomination took place in Moscow, but resulted in total confusion, as was first reported live on Twitter by chess journalist Denis Bilunov and quickly followed by practically all Russian media.

What happened? Well, it seems two simultaneous meetings of the Supervisory Board of the RCF took place. On one meeting, not attended by RCF President Dvorkovich but in the presence of Garry Kasparov - 18 (or 17, according to other sources) out of 32 members nominated Karpov as candidate. As the Karpov Campaign site reports,

Ilyumzhinov’s supporters on the Council realized they lacked the votes to overcome Karpov and attempted first to postpone the meeting and then to move it behind closed doors. Failing that, they chose to boycott the proceedings entirely, but even with a few Council members absent from Moscow and several others abstaining, a quorum was reached and the vote proceeded. Karpov received the unanimous and enthusiastic support of all attending members, providing a 17-vote majority in full view of the media.

RCF President Dvorkovich called both meetings illegitimate: one because the President (himself) was not present, and the other because not sufficient members were precent to legalize the voting procedure. As Dvorkovich explains in an interview with, this is his version of the proceedings:

In accordance with the Federation’s statutes, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board collects its members and organizes a meeting in one place. We informed the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Federation A. Bakh where the meeting should be taking place. Unfortunately, the information was not delivered to all Board members by him. My assistants in the same day were on the phone with the members of the Supervisory Board a few hours before the start of the meeting. Unfortunately, the position of the Chairman of the Supervisory Board on the issue of the FIDE Presidential candidate led to the fact that it was impossible to organize the meeting.

Not surprisingly, Dvorkovich is challenging the results. To us, it does seem rather strange to have a round of votes in the absence of the President, even if he did try to block the whole thing. However, a majority is still a majority. Shortly after the RCF meeting, Ilyumzhinov himself issued a statement in which he used big words:

The situation reminds me of the one in the early 90s, where Kasparov and Karpov were involved and then, as you know the chess world became divided into two parallel organizations, with two champions. And now unfortunately, they start to split the chess world again. One of them wants to become President of Russia, and the other one – President of FIDE. But we live in democracy. It is a pity that they are splitting the RCF.

So it seems we have a true schism within the Russian Chess Federation, and it will be interesting to see what happens next. What does this "schism" imply for the future of FIDE? It's clear the Iluymzhinov camp has been dealt a several blow last night, because Ilyumzhinov, though President of Kalmykia, is Russian after all, too. But as Mig Greengard points out, it's unlikely Ilyuzhinov will throw in the towel already. Also, we think it is not improbable that the entire voting procedure is indeed ruled illegal and things will have to be settled at a later date.

This time, Ilyumzhinov will have to come up with something extra, though, if only because it seems at least one of his supporters, the elusive Ignatius Leong, is leaving him already. Meanwhile, support for Karpov is still growing, with Syria and Scotland having also said to express their support for Karpov. It really looks like this time, things may be different. Perhaps Ilyumzhinov should take some advice from Mark Crowther, who on The Week in Chess ponders:

Under the rules, how will Ilyumzhinov even be able to stand? I don't believe he can submit his name to go forward without the Russian Chess Federation Nomination. Although the rules are written in such a way that it maybe possible to get on an established ticket after the nominations are in. Another way I understand is that using the Presidential board has sufficient powers to nominate Ilyumzhinov, or think they have.

1.2 Nominations for the Presidential ticket and Continental Presidents must reach the FIDE Secretariat at least three months before the opening of the General Assembly. To be elected, each candidate shall be nominated by his federation. He/She should have been a member of their federation at least one year before the General Assembly.

Practically the only chess site that hasn't reported on the elections at the time of writing this report, is FIDE's official homepage. News is likely to develop quickly: we'll try to keep you updated on the most important facts as fast and accurately as possible.

Update: we learnt the reason why is silent so far about the presidential candidates: it's because FIDE wants to remain neutral on its site. Neither of the two known candidates have yet to select their team, once they (or any other candidate) do, then FIDE will put it on the website with a link to their respective websites.

Update 2: we asked Grandmaster and author Genna Sosonko to comment on the news. Here's a brief statement, recorded Saturday May 15, at 14:00 CET at the Max Euwe Center in Amsterdam and uploaded from there as well:

Update 3: Open letter by Ilyumzhinov
Moscow, Russian Federation / Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dear Presidents, Delegates and Federation members,

In certain media, it was reported that the Russian Chess Federation supposedly “took a decision” to nominate Anatoly Karpov as its representative for FIDE President. Unfortunately, a “decision” shrouded in clear deceit and typical of the misrepresentations which we have become accustomed to the last few weeks, from the troika of Karpov, Bakh and Kasparov.

A meeting was originally for 5.00 p.m. in Mr Dvorkovich’s office, and it was suddenly changed by Mr Bakh notifying some of the delegates that they should meet at 4.30 p.m. at the premises of the Russian Chess Federation. The Chairman of the Russian Chess Federation was not notified at all. A grave insult to the office of the Chairman and the Russian Chess Federation. This clearly violates the statutes which determine that all meetings are to be presided over by the Chairman.

A rough show of hands was called for and an immediate statement released on this basis. These tactics are reminiscent of the behavior which Karpov and his team, were so content to exploit, during Soviet times. From my side, I had preferred to leave the delegates in a neutral position, but such behavior not only infringes any sense of ethics, but makes this decision completely illegal and contestable, apart from any other actions that are reserved against persons who knowingly misled the delegates into taking such action.

Let me make it crystal clear, dear delegates, I will run for FIDE President once again and I am confident that the delegates will once again put their trust in our team.

I have the clear support of the majority of FIDE’s member Federations who have been waiting patiently in the background, for the Russian Chess Federation to proceed with its nomination. Today’s decision makes a mockery of Karpov and his team, who believe they are capable of running a future FIDE. His campaign so far has been based on misrepresentation and false accusations.

Our mission grows stronger to protect the unity, transparency and democracy that has been created within FIDE these last fifteen years.

Gens una sumus. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov FIDE President

Update 4: RCF's press release

Following Ilyumzhinov's letter, the Russian Chess Federation has issued a press release via the Russian chess site, stating that it was clearly announced on the RCF website that the original meeting was to take place at the Central House of Chess, not at mr. Dvorkovich's place. This is clearly in contradiction with President Ilyumzhinov's version of the facts. It's not clear to us who exactly issued the press release, but we assume it was written not by the entire federation (certainly not by mr. Dvorkovich) but perhaps only by the Karpov-supporters (that is probably why it's not on the site of the RCF).

We invite our (Russian) readers to provide We just received confirmation from Denis Bilunov that the original invitation for the meeting was indeed scheduled at the Moscow Chess House on Gogol Boulevard, not at Mr. Dvorkovich's place, as President Ilyumzhinov states. The invitations on dated 5-5-2010 and 7-5-2010 clearly state the time and place of the meeting: 17.00 at the Central Chess House Botvinnik.
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