A Russian chess prodigy has been banned from competing internationally by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) because he expressed the wrong political opinion, speaking in favour of his country’s actions in Ukraine.
32-year-old chess grandmaster Sergey Karjakin expressed support for Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, writing an open letter to Vladimir Putin that stated Russia is “fighting for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine with its ruling regime, which has put the security of all of Europe and our country at risk, for the sake of its political goals and ambitions.”
Amplifying Putin’s narrative on the Ukraine skirmish, Karjakin further wrote that “For eight long years we have been waiting with hope for salvation from countless shelling and loss of human lives, the ongoing genocide by the still acting Kiev regime.”
He continued, “I express to you, our commander-in-chief, full support in protecting the interests of Russia, our multinational Russian people, eliminating threats and establishment of peace! I wish you the speedy fulfilment of all the tasks assigned to our valiant army.”
After previously announcing a blanket ban of Russia and Belarus from team events, FIDE moved to suspend Karjakin from individual events for at least six months.
“The statements by Sergey Karjakin on the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine has led to a considerable number of reactions on social media and elsewhere, to a large extent negative towards the opinions expressed by Sergey Karjakin,” said FIDE in a statement, adding that they have found the grandmaster guilty of ‘breaching the Code of Ethics’.
The statement concluded that “The EDC Chamber finds, against the background given above, on the standard of comfortable satisfaction that the statements of Sergey Karjakin, which, by his own choice and presentation, can be connected to the game of chess, damage the reputation of the game of chess and/or FIDE. The likelihood that these statements will damage the reputation of Sergey Karjakin personally is also considerable.”
Sergey Karjakin (openly supporting Putin) banned from the #FIDECandidates tournament!♟
— Michal Kanarkiewicz ♟ (@M_Kanarkiewicz) March 21, 2022
Prior to the FIDE suspension, Karjakin had already been blacklisted from several chess events, including tournaments in the UK and Norway and banned by the Grand Chess Tour and from Chess.com.
Responding to the suspension, Karjakin said: “I’m disappointed. You understand, this is not just a suspension for six months, everything was planned. The idea was to prevent me from playing in the Candidates Tournament and to deprive me of a possible entry into the [world title] match with Magnus Carlsen.”
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