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Interview: Anatoly Karpov On The Politics Of Chess

Anatoly Karpov: "I don't know from where, but my rivals have a lot of resources at their disposal."
Anatoly Karpov: "I don't know from where, but my rivals have a lot of resources at their disposal."
Chess grandmaster and former world champion Anatoly Karpov, who has waged a highly public campaign in defense of his nomination as Russia's candidate for the presidency of the World Chess Federation, , spoke to RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Yelena Vlasenko about his plans as he moves ahead with his campaign.

RFE/RL: Did Arkady Dvorkovich ever speak to you personally about this issue?

Anatoly Karpov: No, never.

RFE/RL: Is it necessary now to confirm the legitimacy of the session of the supervisory council of the Russian Chess Federation at which you were nominated to stand for FIDE president?

Karpov: I don't think so. And the case shouldn't go to court.

RFE/RL: You outlined a number of problems in your letter to the FIDE delegates -- raids on the headquarters of the Central House of Chess Players, freezing the RCF's accounts, seizing the website. How is it possible to proceed under such circumstances?

Karpov: There was never anything like it before, and I believe there will never be anything like it again. Dvorkovich has paralyzed the federation. We need to resurrect it, to unblock the accounts. The chess club building belongs to the chess players, and anybody else -- moreover anyone who's armed -- should leave. No one asked them to be there. It should be a free expression on the part of the chess players and the chess authorities, it's time to stop twisting their arm. Then Russia will look completely different, because today we've become a laughingstock.
The chess club building belongs to the chess players, and anybody else -- moreover anyone who's armed -- should leave.

RFE/RL: What recourse is there for you and your supporters as this situation develops?

Karpov: You need to live according to the law. All questions that arise should be decided by the federation -- I'm not its head or a member of the supervisory council. I'm simply taking note of the fact that this is a fairly unusual situation and asking that things be returned to a normal state.

RFE/RL: Meanwhile, your election campaign continues.

Karpov: There are difficulties, but also certain successes. More than 30 countries have decided to support me. The number of chess players supporting me is far higher than those supporting my rival.

RFE/RL: What impact could these events have on Dvorkovich's activities outside the world of chess?

Karpov: Nothing interests me except chess. And Garry Kasparov, with whom we're working, understands that. We're not engaged in politics; we don't even discuss it. This is about chess. We have different points of view, but when it comes to chess, we have one aim: serious measures need to be taken to prevent chess as a profession from dying. I'll publish our program in full once my campaign is completely under way.

RFE/RL: Did Garry Kasparov suggest that you get involved in politics?

Karpov: No, he didn't. I told him right away that we're interested only in chess, and he took that perfectly normally. We held some consultations with him -- we worked out the measures that need to be taken in order to save the profession. Like many leading chess players, he's ready to take part in a number of campaign activities. He's probably going to travel to Central America soon, and I'm traveling in another direction, to Africa.

RFE/RL: "Kommersant" reported that you and Kasparov traveled to the United States recently for meetings with "major businessmen and politicians with an expressed interest" in your election campaign. How fruitful was the trip?

Karpov: We were in not only the U.S., but also Germany, where the president of the German Chess Federation, the famous economist Robert von Weizsacker -- the son of the former German president -- has been nominated as a candidate for the presidency of the European Chess Union. We agreed to help each other, to act together. The composition of my team is practically complete. There will be representatives from different continents -- highly accomplished people, and not only in the field of chess. I think I'll be able to release a list of their names soon.
I don't know from where, but my rivals have a lot of resources at their disposal.

RFE/RL: There are no problems with the financing of your campaign?

Karpov: There are problems. So we're doing some advertising in the hopes that it will raise some money or attract sponsors. I don't know from where, but my rivals have a lot of resources at their disposal. I think that there will be enough money for my campaign. As long as things don't get crazy.

RFE/RL: In what sense?

Karpov: Let's wait and see.

RFE/RL: Can the situation improve in any way if Dvorkovich remains in his post?

Karpov: Who am I to decide for someone else? I know what I can do for chess. I can say exactly: with my arrival, the situation will change for the better, and everyone will see those changes. Either Ilyumzhinov and Dvorkovich will hinder this, or they won't. That's their business. Moreover, Dvorkovich is not the president of the Russian Chess Federation; he's a member of the Supervisory Council, and that's a consultative body only. And this isn't about Russia -- it's about elections for the World Chess Federation, where Russia is only one of 165 member-countries.

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