How Arkady Dvorkovich became a chess king

The Financial Times published an investigation in which it claims that Russia at the state level was trying to push the election of Arkady Dvorkovich as president of FIDE. We have gathered the main facts from this investigation.
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Former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Arkady Dvorkovich, on October 3, became President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE). The Russian candidate bypassed in the fight for this post of FIDE Vice President Georgios Makropoulos. According to the Financial Times investigation, Russia tried to push the election of Dvorkovich through its ambassadors, representatives of state banks and the largest companies.

According to rival Dvorkovich in the elections, FIDE Vice President Georgios Makropoulos, out of 189 chess federations in FIDE, "more than 120 federations were under pressure, sometimes direct, from the Russian embassies or through the ministries of sports and foreign affairs of their countries."

FT read the letter, which in August 2018 was sent from the Russian embassy in Brazil to the local chess federation. “Russia believes that the experience and professionalism of Arkady Dvorkovich, as well as his extensive network of contacts, will be a valuable contribution to the future of FIDE,” the letter read. In addition, embassies actively telephoned chess federations and their delegates to FIDE, the newspaper writes.

According to Makropoulos, dozens of federations were offered gifts and material incentives. In particular, several delegates to FIDE received tickets to the matches of the World Cup in Russia.

On the eve of the FIDE presidential election in Batumi, some federations received messages on WhatsApp from Berik Balgabaev, who had previously been an assistant to former FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and now takes the same position under Arkady Dvorkovich. The message, allegedly sent by Balgabayev, contained a letter template that needed to be sent to a specific address in Gazprombank in order to receive money. The message read: “Dear colleagues, The Chess Federation (specify the name of the country) is asking for your sponsorship. We need (specify the amount) that will be spent on (select "chess conference" or "chess tournament" or "chess in the school curriculum," etc.). Here are the details of the federation: (specify the bank / account / number / etc.). Thank you for your generous support! ”

In addition, the investigation mentioned earlier information that Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly asked him to support Israel’s candidacy of Dvorkovich (this was reported by the Chessbase in August last year). The newspaper also recalled a fact made public earlier by Makropolus. The sports functionary claimed that in August 2018, in the Russian Embassy in Belgrade, members of the Serbian Chess Federation were offered € 220,000 for the replacement of a delegate to FIDE.

Makropoulos, in a conversation with the FT, claims that Dvorkovich’s campaign was supported by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov. He allegedly influenced his associate Nigel Short, who withdrew his candidacy in favor of Dvorkovich, after which only two candidates remained in the ballot paper - Russian and Makropoulos (the result of the vote was the result of 103-78 in favor of Dvorkovich). According to Makropoulos, Kasparov’s interest allegedly consisted in the fact that he wanted the sponsorship of the World Chess Championship to go to “his new company, which he planned to create.”

Makropoulos argues that he personally received the proposal to support Dvorkovich through the executive director of the Kasparov Foundation Mikhail Khodorkovsky (not to be confused with the former Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky). A representative of one of the European chess federations shared with FT a letter that Khodarkovsky sent to Jorge Vega, chairman of the Continental Chess Federation of America. “Macro must understand and respect our position. He must accept the entire package of our proposals, and we will be one team, ”the letter read.

The representative of Garry Kasparov said that neither Kasparov nor his foundation were involved in FIDE politics at all, and Kasparov himself supported Short.

Dvorkovich, writes FT, "ignores much of the criticism of his campaign." The fact that the campaign was coordinated by the Russian government is not true, Dvorkovich says. “Politics had nothing to do with it. This does not mean that my colleagues from the government and embassies did not inform (of my candidature) all over the world. They informed, and this is what you can do in the elections, ”he said.

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