(AFP) – A former Russian deputy prime minister was re-elected head of the international chess board FIDE after a landslide Sunday, defeating a Ukrainian rival who said the incumbent was part of Moscow’s “war machine”.
A total of 157 out of India’s 179 national chess federations voted for Arkady Dvorkovich as president, while Ukrainian grandmaster Andrey Baryshpolets got just 16 votes, the federation said.
Russian news agency TASS reported that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described it as “obviously very good news and a very important victory.”
A number of Russian officials have been sanctioned since the invasion of Ukraine in February, and Russian competitors have also been banned by several international sports bodies.
But Dvorkovich, 50, who served under President Vladimir Putin as deputy prime minister from 2012 to 2018 when he was elected president of the federation, kept his position.
Barishbulits had said before the vote at the FIFA General Assembly in Chennai – held alongside the chess Olympiad where Russian, Belarusian and Chinese players were absent – that Dvorkovic had “enormous relations with the Russian government”.
“You Arkady is responsible for what happened in Ukraine now. You are responsible for building the Russian government and the Russian war machine. And we as a chess world, how can we afford that?” said the Ukrainian.
The 31-year-old was supported by Denmark’s Peter Heine Nielsen, the coach of Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen.
But Dvorkovic said he had taken a “strong position”. [on the] The tragic events in Ukraine” and that he supported the reduction of Russian interference in FIDE.
In March, Dvorkovich appeared to criticize the Russian invasion, saying in an interview that his “thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians.”
“Wars don’t just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations and freeze or destroy relationships and connections,” Dvorkovich told US news site Mother Jones.
The comments sparked criticism in Russia, and Dvorkovich later appeared to retreat, saying, “There is no place for Nazism or the domination of some countries over other countries.”
This was seen as cryptic support for the Kremlin, which portrays Ukraine as run by the Nazis and accuses Western countries of seeking to surreptitiously take over Russia’s neighbor.
Anti-war piano prodigy Alexander Malofeev was set to play with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra but was excluded from performances as OSM feared his appearance on stage would trigger a backlash from those against the Russian invasion of Ukraine https://t.co/FLHhcFF4i9
– Breitbart London March 13, 2022
Russia has exercised enormous influence in the game of chess since the Soviet era, when the game was one of the areas of confrontation between the Communist bloc and the West.
Before Dvorkovich took office, FIDE was presided over for more than two decades by eccentric Russian politician Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who claimed to have encountered extraterrestrials.
Dvorkovich has won praise as an able administrator, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and for his difficult decisions after Russia was banned from international forums due to the war in Ukraine.
Dvorkovic snatched five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand of India – one of the biggest names in the sport – as his running mate in the FIDE election.
“We are following the strong track record and achievements of Dvorkovic and his team in the past four years,” Anand said in an interview with AFP in July.
The president’s decisions have clearly shown that he is independent of the influence of the Kremlin. Furthermore it … [FIDE] It has developed relationships with many sponsors and countries and has been able to hold most of the FIFA events such as the World Championship… outside of Russia. “
“Dvorkovic’s landslide victory in the elections shows that he has earned the confidence of the federation’s member associations – and the broader chess community,” the federation said in a statement.
“We will not judge the accomplices in today’s vote, history will judge,” the Barishbulits campaign team said on Twitter, “Fight for Chess.”
Taxpayer-funded radio debate: Chess is racist because white moves first https://t.co/HyDaIW2Vae
– Breitbart London June 24, 2020