Pro-Putin grandmaster vows to create rebel federation
Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin has vowed to set up a new chess organization to rival international governing body FIDE after it slapped the star with a six-month ban due to his support of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
The International Chess Federation announced on Monday that it was sanctioning Karjakin – a former world title challenger – for his public support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the operation in Donbass and Ukraine.
The Crimean-born Karjakin responded by claiming the decision was unjust, suggesting it was a ploy to remove him from the upcoming Candidates Tournament, where the winner would earn a shot at Norwegian great Magnus Carlsen for the world championship.
Speaking to Sputnik Radio, Karjakin pledged to set up his own chess organization to counter the influence of FIDE, which is headed by a Russian president, Arkady Dvorkovich.
“After these events, I made the firm decision that I would try my best together with my friends, colleagues, like-minded people to create a new organization as an alternative to FIDE,” said Karjakin, 32.
“Because what they did... Even if they apologize later, even if they take me back into the Candidates Tournament, I’ll create my own organization…
“We’ll create a good, professional team, we will work with permanent sponsors. All the good things that FIDE does, I’m talking about the World Championship, about holding tournaments, we’ll transfer all this to our organization with a large prize fund.
“We’ll wait for anyone who wants [to join]. I’ve been nurturing this idea since yesterday, I’ve already discussed it with some people, I’ve already enlisted some kind of support.
“Plus, ordinary people, and this is very important to me, they ask me, they say: ‘Let’s do it, we will support it.’
“So that not everything can be decided only by an order from above. It’s very important for me that ordinary people support me.”
Karjakin has received support from the Chess Federation of Russia in the aftermath of his ban, with the organization vowing to appeal the suspension. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also urged FIDE to reconsider the ban, describing it as “political.”
Born in Simferopol, Karjakin switched allegiances from Ukraine to Russia in 2009.
He is a former world rapid and blitz chess champion, and pushed Carlsen all the way in their epic world championship meeting in New York in 2016 before falling in a tiebreak series.
A vocal supporter of President Putin, Karjakin issued an open letter to the Russian leader at the onset of the military operation in Ukraine, wishing the armed forces success.
“It is fighting for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine with its ruling regime, which has put the security of all of Europe and our country at risk, for the sake of its political goals and ambitions,” wrote Karjakin.
“I am closely following the ongoing special operation, in the lands where I spent my childhood, where I learned to play chess and where my relatives still live.
“For eight long years we have been waiting with hope for salvation from countless shelling and loss of human lives, the ongoing genocide by the still acting Kiev regime.
“I express to you, our commander-in-chief, full support in protecting the interests of Russia, our multinational Russian people, eliminating threats and establishment of peace! I wish you the speedy fulfilment of all the tasks assigned to our valiant army.”
Karjakin said he and his family had received death threats in light of his stance, although he also said he had been given messages of support.
FIDE announced on March 16 that it was banning Russia and Belarus from its team tournaments until further notice, but said players from the two countries would be able to compete as individuals under neutral status and the FIDE flag.