Reports | June 06, 2013 17:53

Kasparov: "Russia is and will always be my country"

"Russia is my home", said Garry Kasparov in a reaction on Facebook to the dozens of news reports in international media about his decision not to travel to Russia for the time being. Kasparov revealed this decision during a press conference in Geneva yesterday, where he received the UN Watch’s annual human rights prized.

On Wednesday Garry Kasparov received the UN Watch’s annual human rights prize, the Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award, at a ceremony in Geneva. Answering a question during a press conference, Kasparov stated that he would not return to Russia for fear of criminal prosecution for his political activities. The audio recording of the press conference was posted on YouTube and you can hear Kasparov answering the question at 36:40.

I kept travelling back and forth until late February, when it became clear that I might be part of this ongoing investigation of the activities of the political protestors. Right now I have serious doubts that if I return to Moscow I may be able to travel back. So for the time being I refrain from returning to Russia. 

This remark was picked up by international media, for instance Le Figaro, Financial Times and Sky News. The Moscow Times put the news into context as follows:

Kasparov's announcement comes amid fears of a new wave of emigration of opposition-minded intellectuals, a fear intensified by the departure of liberal economist Sergei Guriev last week. Guriev's exit from Russia, which many believe was forced, was seen by experts as a major blow to civil society.

The news of Kasparov's plans to stay abroad is likely to intensify those fears.

As a result, Kasparov felt the need to clarify his decision a bit more. He posted the following text on his Facebook page:

One simple question at a Geneva press conference has set off a firestorm of conjecture about my not returning Russia, so I want to set the story straight myself! Russia is and will always be my country. I am still traveling on a Russian passport, and though I was born in the USSR, and have spent most of my adult life traveling constantly, Russia is my home even when I am not able to be there. I refuse to allow Putin and his gang define Russia. They are a temporary disease that the Russian immune system will soon fight off.

I am doing everything I can to help win that fight. Before I retired from chess I represented Russia fighting battles on the chessboard around the world. I have spent years marching in the streets against Putin, speaking at rallies, and facing the police. Today I am still representing Russia and fighting harder than ever in America and Europe to bring international sanctions against the criminals and thugs in the Kremlin. I have had hundreds of meetings and appearances to promote such legislation, and the US has adopted the Magnitsky Act and Europe is increasingly open to doing the same. Such laws attack Putin's power at its foundation: the loyalty of his gang that is based on the protection he provides so they can enjoy their stolen riches abroad. Putin is at the center of the web, but the fight for human rights is a global one and it is critical to both assist and to seek assistance from allies abroad.

Meanwhile, Putin is cracking down harder than ever and is showing he is willing to create a new generation of political prisoners unseen since the days of Stalin. I have already been "invited" to speak to prosecutors and such invitations have a way, at a minimum, of limiting ones freedom of movement. Adding another victim to the regime's list will not do much good. I will not casually put myself at the mercy of the investigative office of Alexander Bastrykin, who deserves to be the top Russian official on the Magnitsky List himself!

Please, let no one doubt my commitment to the cause of a free and strong Russia, or doubt for one moment that I am working constantly to achieve that goal. I have dedicated my life to my human rights activities and my education programs and it is impossible to imagine I would be allowed to continue this work inside Russia today. Many of my friends in the opposition are risking their lives and their security every day and they deserve the full attention and protection of the global community and bringing this support is part of my efforts. I am present; I am in touch on a daily basis with what is happening with the opposition, and I will do whatever I can to support my colleagues and my compatriots until Putin and his cronies are gone for good.

Kasparov retired from professional chess in 2005 to pursue a political career. Ever since he has aimed his arrows at Russia's leader Vladimir Putin. In 2007 Kasparov spent five days in jail after being arrested by police at an opposition protest. Last summer he was arrested at a rally outside the courthouse of the Pussy Riot trial.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

chessnotes's picture

I fear that the situation for Garry Kimovich is now critical. After these comments, I suspect that Putin will stop at nothing to silence him. The world is ignoring what is happening in Russia. Putin simply kills or imprisons those that oppose him.

popeye's picture

Kasparov rules. I wish he was still playing.

Fishy's picture

He is welcome in the West. He can work from here and do whatever he pleases. From politics to Chess.

Anony's picture

There is no such thing as an open world championships without a proper qualifier, one where any tom, dick or harry can play. The rating requirement makes it more of a mess, equalizing standard, blitz and rapid, as if they were the same, just when FIDE said they are not the same, by publishing separate lists. By discriminating players below 2500 as not qualified, is it kind of illegal?

bronkenstein's picture

I was never a big fan of Kasparov´s political actions (and, speaking of that, of Chessvibes political articles, no matter how mildly biased they might be) in chess or elsewhere.

IMO his activity was (and is) rather attention seeking (prolly out of fear to ´become irrelevant´ - as Kavalek reminds us in http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lubomir-kavalek/chasing-chess-legacy---fi_...) and destructive than anything else, while, (naturally ?) being often welcomed by ´free´ western media.

Axel's picture

It’s very difficult to judge from the outside what’s going on in Russia. But there are clearly some disturbing signs. While it’s almost impossible for the casual observer to judge the motivation for trials against oligarchs the reaction towards Pussy Riot does not leave much room for doubts. I’m happy that Kasparov is using his celebrity status to aid the Russian human right movement. Without him they would have a much harder time to be heard abroad.

Kronsteen's picture

As you say, GK is clearly driven by a narcissistic need to be the center of attention. Whatever his motivations, if he could accomplish some good, I would applaud him. I have yet to speak to a Russian (in the US) who thinks he's doing good, though.

ll's picture

And why are these Russians in the US?

Kronsteen's picture

Most of the Russians I meet in the US are Jewish - it's obvious why they left.

I have yet to meet any Russian who thinks that Kasparov is influential or effective (in changing Russian policy), but I'm open to evidence.

RG13's picture

How about the chess players who left during the Soviet days, persecuted Jews also?

cedar finance's picture

Hi there, this weekend is nice designed for me, since
this time i am reading this impressive educational post here at
my residence.

PircAlert's picture

Here is my story. Will I get the attention of rights group?

About 6 years ago, I was kind of forced to leave the U.S., after paying child support for 2.5 months, as the NY state court had ordered that I pay a hefty child support amount when I had no eligibility to work in the U.S. (Judgmental error??)

I was outside the country but divorce was granted to my ex-wife on grounds of abandonment by NY state even after I wrote to the judge couple of times explaining everything in detail. (Judgmental error, again??)

All the money in all my US bank accounts, huge sums, was taken during this time by NY state when I was away. I purposely left it to show my intention of returning back.

Now that I am back in the U.S., garnishment on my bank account by NY state, and I am being bankrupted.

At least I thought I would get to enjoy time with my kids I love most but the NY state law guardian openly went back on her own words and absolute minimum time (7 hours) was given to me to show that I get some time despite the fact that I have to travel more than 6 hours one-way to visit my kids. (Again, abuse??)

My kids love me as they know that I love them but they are being brainwashed to say things against me (or whatever they say is twisted) to be used in trial against me late this month. The kids are under 12 still for their word to be taken in face value, but from the way things are shaping up I can see NY state sees some profit to give a verdict against me.

Judge seems to wash his hands and is letting a referee decide the matters during the upcoming trial. (political compulsion??)

Why is the compulsion for the NY state to go so low and play global politics in my family? (May be in support/cover up of greedy interest groups that could have brought about all this in first place??)

To quote in similar lines of one gentleman, "The trial has already been held in your absence and settled, don't think, don't question, just accept it or face our wrath!"

Violation after violation. My kids were legally kidnapped!

Where is life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Where is justice?

Anonymous's picture

Answer: Barack Obama is president,...expect he is rejoicing in your torture.

PircAlert's picture

I'm glad people like you who can understand this is torture. I think that is the first step towards a solution.

Anthony Migchels's picture

Yes, the horror of politically correct 'soft' fascism is particularly palpable in the 'family courts'. I sympathize with your plight.

It's pathetic that so many presumably intelligent people like chessplayers cannot see what dystopian nightmare the West has become. The idea that they are in a position to judge Russia is simply laughable.

PircAlert's picture

Thanks for you sympathy!

Frits Fritschy's picture

Tss, tss: still doing that 'prolly' thing?
For clarity: Kavalek is directly quoting Kasparov himself and not criticizing his political activities.
Attention seeking is 'IMO' a key characteristic of politicians and his admittance that he fears irrelevancy (a very human fear) shows at least a certain level of self-knowledge.
If his political activities are destructive (as I understand you), explain why or don't write it.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I was replying to you, Bronkenstein.

Anonymous's picture

This could be World Champion Vishy Anand's best interview to date.. Kudos to the informed journalist too.

ll's picture

Interesting parallel between Fischer and Kasparov here. Both woild champions becoming pariahs in their own countries. Blind power is not embarrassed by bright intellects...although Kasparov's Russia is 100 times worse than Fischer's America...

ll's picture

Putin is screwing the bolts of tyranny ever more tightly and sees that the West has only meek protests to oppose. Kasparov was next and would have rotten in jail for years, or be punched on the streets..Only sensible thing to do is to pester Putin from abroad and watch who is serving the tea!

Corinne's picture

Kasparov's country has always been and always be israel. The jewish interests is the only thing he secretly cares, he is a pawn of this machinery.

George Keselman's picture

I request that Corinne whoever it is be not allowed to make any comment here. It is a shame for the chess community let an anti-Semite take part in any discussion.
By the way, Kasparov never acknowledged his father was Jewish. So, the comment is false about 'machinery'.

Anonymous's picture

Don't come to the USA.....Obama was just elected to a second term.

RG13's picture

What will happen if Russia requests that he be extradited back to face some bogus charges?

Ros's picture

I think the USA and other western countries can't and won't do anything in Russia and I think Kasparov won't succeed in his political challenge so he can better play chess again.... and let the world enjoy his great talent again

Ian.A's picture

i thought Chessvibes rules said no politics ...

Anthony Migchels's picture

Yes, recently Peter told me to go elsewhere if I wanted to discuss politics, which I didn't: I just said I was not playing in Israel.

Anthony Migchels's picture
HonestJohn's picture

As a politician, Kasparov doesn't even begin, in my view. He couldn't even get control of FIDE.
But he's right to keep cussing out that paranoid little tick who's in charge of Russia at the moment.

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