Ex-Rus­sia min­is­ter new chess head

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT - Seyran Baroyan

THE global chess fed­er­a­tion elected for­mer Rus­sian deputy prime min­is­ter Arkady Dvorkovich as its new pres­i­dent Wed­nes­day, re­plac­ing a colour­ful but con­tro­ver­sial chief amid al­le­ga­tions that Moscow was putting pres­sure on na­tional fed­er­a­tions.

Dvorkovich de­feated the World Chess Fed­er­a­tion’s (FIDE) deputy pres­i­dent, Ge­or­gios Makropou­los, who is Greek, af­ter a third can­di­date, Bri­tish grand­mas­ter Nigel Short, with­drew at the last mo­ment and en­dorsed the Rus­sian.

“I’m very pleased at the re­sult of these elec­tions,” Dvorkovich said in his ac­cep­tance speech be­fore vow­ing to be “ac­count­able” and “trans­par­ent”.

The vote, which lasted sev­eral hours in the Geor­gian re­sort city of Ba­tumi saw Dvorkovich de­feat Makropou­los by 103 votes to 78.

Dvorkovich served as a deputy prime min­is­ter for six years un­der Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin be­fore los­ing his post in May.

He was in charge of Rus­sia’s or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee for the 2018 World Cup and has promised to cre­ate tie-ups with sports bod­ies such as FIFA and the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and at­tract cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship. His can­di­dacy was pub­licly en­dorsed by FIFA pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino.

“We need to make first steps im­me­di­ately,” Dvorkovich said on Wed­nes­day. “We made prom­ises we have to de­liver.”

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS state news agency that “we are glad of this se­lec­tion,” say­ing he be­lieved Dvorkovich would “worthily con­tinue the task of de­vel­op­ing chess through­out the world”.

Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev also con­grat­u­lated Dvorkovich on Twit­ter, wish­ing him suc­cess.

The pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Chess Union who is also a mem­ber of the FIDE pres­i­den­tial board, Zurab Az­maiparashvili, said af­ter the vote that “I be­lieve per­son­ally FIDE will ben­e­fit”, call­ing Dvorkovich “very in­tel­li­gent” and “ca­pa­ble of solv­ing the prob­lems” of chess.

He said Dvorkovich not be­ing a top chess player was not a prob­lem, since “to be pres­i­dent of FIDE you need to have good man­age­ment skills and po­lit­i­cal skills, which he has, def­i­nitely”.

Dvorkovich’s bid for the FIDE pres­i­dency prompted ac­cu­sa­tions of Moscow’s at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence the vote, while he and Short ac­cused the pre­vi­ous lead­er­ship of lack of trans­parency and crony­ism.

The elec­tion brought to an end the more than 20-year reign of Kir­san Ilyumzhi­nov as pres­i­dent of the body that unites the world’s 188 na­tional chess fed­er­a­tions.

Al­leged pres­sure

The ec­cen­tric ex-head of a Rus­sian re­gion claimed to have en­coun­tered aliens dur­ing a colour­ful ca­reer at the fed­er­a­tion’s helm that be­gan in 1995.

The race was marred by al­le­ga­tions that Rus­sia put pres­sure on coun­tries to back Dvorkovich.

ChessBase web­site re­ported that Putin asked Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu to press his coun­try’s fed­er­a­tion to back Dvorkovich in re­turn for host­ing a cham­pi­onship, cit­ing an e-mail ap­par­ently sent by an Is­raeli for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial.

Makropou­los re­ferred Dvorkovich and his team to the FIDE ethics com­mis­sion over al­leged at­tempts to in­flu­ence Ser­bia’s vote with “gifts” and “fraud­u­lent spon­sor­ships”.

FIDE found Dvorkovich and his team not guilty ow­ing to in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence but ex­cluded Ser­bia’s del­e­gate from the vote.

Dur­ing a speech on Wed­nes­day, Makropou­los was heck­led with boos from the au­di­ence and shouts of “shame” af­ter he claimed that “Rus­sian am­bas­sadors or politi­cians” had asked na­tional fed­er­a­tions to sup­port Dvorkovich.

Short po­si­tioned him­self as an an­ti­cor­rup­tion can­di­date and harshly crit­i­cised Makropou­los, whom he said know­ingly sup­ported Ilyumzhi­nov as he brought FIDE “to the brink of obliv­ion” with a regime of “ram­pant crony­ism”.

Chess was cru­cial to the Soviet Union’s pres­tige dur­ing the Cold War hey­day of Ana­toly Kar­pov and Garry Kas­parov.

FIDE, which has mod­est pro­jected in­come of € 3.33 mil­lion ($3.84 mil­lion) for 2018, is one of the few sports fed­er­a­tions where Rus­sia has re­tained its tra­di­tion­ally strong role.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion that runs FIDE tour­na­ments is based in Moscow and many of the top spon­sors are Rus­sian.


Mo­vis­tar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi takes part in winter test­ing at the Chang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit in the north­east­ern Thai prov­ince of Buri­ram on Fe­bru­ary 16.

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