Monday, 7 December 2015

Kirsan steps (slightly) aside

After a week of silence over the US Treasury sanctions concerning FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the FIDE website finally makes mention of it. The short of it, is that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has withdrawn from any "legal, financial and business operations of FIDE" and has authorised Georgios Makropoulos (FIDE Deputy President) to carry out the functions of President.
In the statement FIDE say that Ilyumzhinov will stand down until his name is removed from the sanction list,   which I suspect will be a lot longer than he imagines it will be.
In terms of how this effects FIDE itself (or more importantly, FIDE governance), probably not at all. Makropoulos pretty much runs FIDE on a day to day basis anyway, with Kirsan mainly being responsible for "blue sky" ideas and securing funding for FIDE events in the old Soviet Bloc.  As the actual sanctions simply prevent US citizens from having any financial dealing with Ilyumzhinov, this is less of an earth shattering change, and more of a move to allow FIDE to legally do business with the US.
Where this might end up being a more permanent change is in the context of the Russia - Turkey dispute over who is buying and selling ISIS oil. Turkey has made mention of the involvement Russian "chess champions" in their claims about Russia, although it is assumed that they are referring to Ilyumzhinov. It may well have been politically convenient for Kirsan to assist the Syrian government at some point in the past viz-a-viz oil supplies, but it may now turn out to be an embarrassment to the Russian government, and if it is, they may try and argue they had no knowledge themselves, and cut him loose.

(** Full disclaimer: I have worked on a number of FIDE commissions in the past, and know a number of members of the FIDE Presidential Board and Executive. However this working relationship ended in August 2014 after the FIDE Elections, as a consequence of me refusing to commit the PNG Chess Federations vote to Ilyumzhinov. I was asked to do this by a senior FIDE official in March 2014 and when I informed him that it was a decision for the entire PNGCF board, he said to me "If the PNGCF does not vote for Kirsan, then it will not be good for you". Despite being re-nominated for the commissions I was previously on, I was not appointed to any of them **)


Name/URL said...

Surov interviewed Makro back in 2013, and brought up the issue of day-to-day FIDE, and the response was ambivalent, saying that FIDE would be different if Kirsan were not there. You were probably lucky to get off the commissions. The ACC in particular, was smacked down by the Constitutional commission guys, because of the problem with quorom in TRomso. Everyone knew this, Rivello and Gelfer spoke and pleaded there, but the ACC still forged mal-ward with heavy Kirsan fanfare after the Sochi president's meeting. Too bad, They had to reappoint all the investigations properly (Tetimov and Nigalidze, but Sandu got xferred directly to Ethics since there was no actual cheating and the ACC rules weren't specified enough against false accusations), and then had lawyers instruct at the COngress (Abhu Dhabi) how to sort out the mess. Maybe FIDE should threaten delegates who don't show up, instead of guys like you.

Danailov thinks the main clue, is whether Russia still now has desire to overpower FIDE elections. If so, Filatov is probably going to be cued up for a emergency 2016 Baku bid. If not, Makro will twiddle the thumbs until 2018.

Name/URL said...

FIDE just published the Candidates contracts. Sure enough, the last line is for Makro's signature, not Kirsan's.

Anonymous said...

To the best of my knolwedge, though Ilyuzmhinov has given numerous interviews and press comments since the events of last 2 weeks, no once has asked him about his bank Russian Financial Alliance that was sanctioned.

Here is the history. Through a holding company, he buys 19% of the bank in June 2013, and within a week is named the Chairman of the Board. One of the other minority holders (five guys total, each with about 19%) says he was physically threatened by the longtime prior Chairman, that he should vote for Ilyumzhinov. He later launched a lawsuit, but good luck with that in Moscow if you're not on the correct side of the politics. In fact, on the very day of this vote, the company was raided by police since the main stakeholder (75%) from 2004 said he went to the USA for 2 years on business, and upon returning found the others had forged his signature on documents allowing his share to be whittled to nil.

In April 2014, Khuri buys 19.75% of the bank again via a holding intermediary, with half the voting rights (9.875%) having been restricted by nomination to another party in February. In June 2014 a new Chairman is elected, who doesn't seem involved? In June 2015, Khuri is elected Chairman, and six months later he, Ilyumzhinov and the bank are USA-sanctioned.

Almost every business I could find with Ilyumzhinov was shady in one way or another (maybe I am not used to the level of corruption), but this was the one that crossed the USA's path. Note: he wanted to rename Russian Financial Alliance as FIDE-Bank, but this did not happen endingly.

Shaun Press said...

The lesson from the train wreck that was the 2014 FIDE Congress was that Kirsan and FIDE are essentially the same thing. The focus was on getting Kirsan re-elected and when that part of proceedings were complete, the FIDE executive simply lost interest in anything else.
One of the problems with the ACC proposal was that it required changes to the regulations of other commissions (Ethics, Rules and Qualifications) to become effective. This of course did not happen as two days were spent on elections, the fiasco with the African Continental meeting cut day 3 short, and then day 4 failed to produce a quorum after a substantial number of South American delegates failed to turn up.
Experienced FIDE watchers remarked to me that this was the worst General Assembly they had ever seen, and this included the infamous 1994 GA in Moscow.

Anonymous said...

Tromso/Norway also didn't impress FIDE in the first place, with the Olympiad almost being cancelled (emergency funds needed after WorldCup overflow, Russia women being excluded over deadlines vis-a-vis Lagno until Kirsan intervened). There were mutual irritations all around, even more with Tromso cost-of-living standard prices being described as "outrageous" by many. Well, that's another possible (Western) chessfunder that is now steering clear of FIDE, though Ilya Merenzon claims that Norway is too small anyway for his AGON vision. Hopefully the promised $20 million from Kirsan fills that hole, and the pledged 10% of his $50 billion USA lawsuit to world chess development can't hurt either. :-)

ThanklessTemerity said...

Here is the scuttlebutt on what happened with the ACC, as I heard it.

They were going OK after booting up post-Sochi. Sure there were legalistic issues with the quorum, but organizationally it's the right thing to do anyway. The only early worry was with Danailov/BCF over his stalling on Tetimov. In a similar manner, Nigalidze was easy as he admitted everything.

But then Chakvi happened. Gelfer or Garrett (don't know who, maybe both) couldn't sit still, and needed to show everyone that the ACC (800-pound gorilla) was on the case. First announcing they were watching the "open letter" situation closely (almost begging for a report to be filed), then Gelfer going stentorian with his stern comments about witchhunting ("we seem to have witnessed such a case of unsubstantiated accusations"). As you might imagine, such drumbeats caused some of the 14 women to not be exactly keen about the ACC overseeing this, as the end result seemed a fait accompli.

However, as Anand said in an interview (unrelated), the women's network in chess is quite vast, and chitchat spreads rapidly. Summer was just beginning, and the gripes and moanings flittered across Europe (and elsewhere), until they found someone with the right "system know-how" to deflect the ACC. Of course it all comes back to the lack of quorum, and as Garrett wrote in the most recent report, this led to "a rather dense correspondence" with lawyers regarding "the numerous legal problems associated with the missed quorum in Tromso." Once it hit Rivello's desk (CONS), the writing on the wall was clear, as he's a stickler for protocol. Eventually I think they just xferred the Sandu case directly to Ethics, where there were no technical defects.

Really, this all never would have happened if the ACC bosses hadn't been so blustery. That was what irked some people the wrong way, leading in a winding way to the chaotic internal uprising. But since then, the whole missed quorum issue has blown up in their face. To be fair, the rules on instituting Commissions were changed in Istanbul (2012), and maybe everyone still thought it was like old times when Ilyumzhinov could invent a "Modernization Commission" at his whim, but still someone on the PB should have known, or at least thought to inquire. Too many yes-men?