Chess head resigns over alleged Syria links

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© A Savin, wikipedia
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

SANCTIONS announced by the US against the outlandish chief of the world chess body, Fide, have led to the leader temporarily resigning due to an inability to focus on the 2017 World Chess Championships due to be held in the US. 

On November 25, the American administration declared that controversial Russian politician Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was on the list “for materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria, Adib Mayaleh, and Batoul Rida.”. Ilyumzhinov insists that his only involvement with Syria is chess related and that he last visited in 2012, when he played a game with the Syrian leader.

President of Fide since 1995, Ilyumzhinov was also leader of a small, southern Russian republic, Kalmykia, which has a largely Buddhist population. He made chess compulsory in schools, built a ‘chess city’ outside the capital, and has stated his belief that chess is a ‘cosmic game’ brought to earth by aliens. 

In 2010 former chess grandmaster and Russian dissident politician challenged Ilyumzhinov for the leadership of Fide, initiating an acrimonious battle that divided the chess community, amid claims of a rigged ballot.

Ilyumzhinov has also released an autobiography entitled The President’s Crown of Thorns, and claimed in 1997 that he was abducted from his Moscow flat by aliens. He also had reportedly cordial relationships with Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi. 

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