25 November 2015

U.S. sanctions Kirsan Ilyumzhnov

FIDE President said he is not afraid of provocations.

Restrictive measures against FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov were introduced on Wednesday, November 25, because he was “materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria,” the U.S. Department of Treasury said in a statement.

The former head of Russia’s Republic of Kalmykia has been linked to financial transactions involving companies associated with another sanctioned person – Syrian businessman, Mudalal Khuri – since 1997, the statement said.

The Russian Financial Alliance Bank, which is co-owned by Ilyumzhinov and Khuri, was also blacklisted by Washington, Russia Today reports.

Ilyumzhinov confirmed to RIA-Novosti that he “visits Syria frequently” and has met with President Bashar Assad, but said that he was surprised to find himself on the sanctions list.

“I think it’s wrong when the Treasury Department allows one to visit some countries, and forbids another from doing the same,” he said.

The FIDE president said that he visits around a hundred countries annually, adding that “there’s no politics in chess; we promote our sport in many states and talk to everybody.”

Ilyumzhinov called his inclusion on the sanctions list a “provocation” as it comes ahead of his American visit on Monday, which will determine the city which is to provide the venue for the Chess World Championships, hosted by the US.

“I have no plans of canceling my trip,” he said. “If they have any questions, I’m eager to answer them. I’m ready to meet with US Department of Treasury representatives in New York or Washington.”

"I want to emphasize that I have never had any kind of commercial interests in Syria or Iran," he told Russia's Interfax news agency.

It should be noted that the idea of imposing sanctions on "people from Mr. Filatov's list" was first suggested by the 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov during the FIDE Congress in Tromso, Norway.