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7 Aug, 2022 12:03

Ex-Russian Deputy PM re-elected as FIDE chess authority chairman

Arkady Dvorkovich defeated a Ukrainian rival in order to continue in his role
Ex-Russian Deputy PM re-elected as FIDE chess authority chairman

Former Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich will serve a second term as the president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) after being re-elected on Sunday and seeing off a Ukrainian opponent. 

Dvorkovich received 157 votes in his favor and 16 against at a FIDE general assembly held in the Indian city of Chennai, as confirmed by chess' leading international governing body. 

Russia's deputy prime minister from 2012 to 2018, Dvorkovich defeated Ukraine's Andrey Baryshpolets as Indian chess grandmaster and five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was elected as his deputy president.

Reacting to the news, The Kremlin welcomed Dvorkovich's victory noting that being elected the head of FIDE is "very important".

"It's a global event, and of course we were rooting for Dvorkovich, a Russian citizen," revealed spokesman Dmitry Peskov to R-Sport.

"Unfortunately politics pervade all aspects linked to sport and culture, which is very, very undesirable and unacceptable to us.

"But this does not mean that we should not fight," it was added, with Baryshpolets having criticized Dvorkovich for his past as a high-ranking Russian official amid the military conflict between their two countries.

Russian State Duma Deputy Dmitry Svishchev congratulated Dvorkovich for achieving the "great honor" of being re-elected for a new term but noted that he has an "increased responsibility" given the current global climate.

Svishchev also suggested that Dvorkovich needs to "distance himself from politics and remove it from world chess" while also not forgetting "which country he represents."

This is a nod to a controversy that saw Dvorkovich having to quit as the chair of the Skolkovo Foundation earlier this year for speaking out against the military operation in Ukraine.

"Wars are the worst things one might face in life ..., including this war," Dvorkovich said to Mother Jones, adding: "My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians."

A senior lawmaker, Andrei Turchak, accused Dvorkovich of a "national betrayal" for his words, and the FIDE chief then backtracked by saying he was "sincerely proud of the courage of our (Russian) soldiers" while claiming Russia had become the target of "harsh and senseless sanctions."

From a sporting perspective, with Russians forced to compete under neutral status in chess, Svishchev further stressed that it is "necessary to remove illegal sanctions from Russian players, and return the [Russian] flag and anthem [to competitions] at the end of the year," now that Dvorkovich has been re-elected. 

"Chess should be out of politics," Svishchev also stated.

Now that he has been granted another four years at the helm, Dvorkovich will now be charged with overseeing how his compatriot and grandmaster Sergey Karjakin is re-introduced to the sport. 

FIDE banned Kajakin for six months for his pro-Russia comments on social media in late March, but Dvorkovich has insisted that he "didn't push for any decision" on the matter. 

"But the fact that we redirected it to the Ethics Commission means that we felt that something is wrong," Dvorkovich pointed out.

"Let's put it this way. It doesn't mean we are against the right to freedom of speech. We do have that both globally and in any society... in most societies, I would say.

"But there are some limits that are set by the freedom of other people. I just thought that Sergey could be a bit more careful. You can have an opinion..." he trailed off.

Karjakin, who revealed a fortnight ago that he would appeal the ban, has also remarked on Sunday's developments and said it was "clear" that Dvorkovich would be re-elected "because not a single significant figure from the world of chess has run for office."

"In fact, he had no competitors. Therefore, the elections were a pure formality," Karjakin further claimed to Championat, while also firing off a warning.

"I would warn those people who will think that if a Russian wins, then this will benefit Russian chess. I doubt it very much, because Dvorkovich already proved himself when our teams were suspended, [and when] they suspended me.

"He didn't stand up and didn't do anything. I do not really understand what positive changes can be here," Karjakin added.