Reports | August 24, 2011 8:23

Ilyumzhinov: 'Gaddafi still in Tripoli'

Ilyumzhinov plays chess with GaddafiThe name of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was mentioned in worldwide mainstream media on Tuesday, and again it was related to Muammar Gaddafi. According to Russian press agency Interfax, the FIDE President spoke on the phone with the Libyan dictator, who said he was still in Tripoli.

Ilyumzhinov and Gaddafi playing chess on June 12th, 2011

Like many, on Sunday night we were glued to the Sky News live coverage of the happenings in Libya. The rebels had suddenly made considerable progress and were only kilometres away from the capital Tripoli. It was a piece of brilliant and brave journalism by Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford.

For a brief moment we considered to send out a tweet along the lines of: 'If the rebels want to know where Gaddafi is hiding, why don't they just ask his chess buddy, our FIDE President?' Obviously we refrained from actually sending it, but the actual thought that Mr Ilyumzhinov could be one of the few people in the world actually knowing about Gaddafi's whereabouts, was intriguing enough. Amazingly, today's news made clear that our little thought experiment was not that far from the truth...

According to Russian press agency Interfax, Gaddafi told Ilyumzhinov on Tuesday that he will fight to the end even as rebel forces claimed to have breached the first gate of his fortified Tripoli compound. "I am alive and healthy," he said on the phone. "I am in Tripoli and do not intend to leave Libya. Do not believe the lying reports by Western television companies. I want to express thanks to everyone in the world who feels for the people of Libya. I am sure that we will be victorious."

This news was sent out to the world by mainstream media such as CBS, Huffington Post and The Telegraph (the latter describing Ilyumzhinov as 'chess master')., run by the rebels in Libya, added that it was Gaddafi’s eldest son Mohammad who called Ilyumzhinov by telephone and then gave the phone to his father.

On June 12th the FIDE President's name was also in all the newspapers and on websites worldwide, because he had actually visited Gaddafi in Tripoli. It was a meeting that lasted two hours, and there was video footage of the two playing chess.

With Libya in a state of civil war and Gaddafi himself accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, it was no surprise that this visit by Ilyumzhinov was severely criticised. In the week that followed, the Dutch, English and German Chess Federations all published an official notice of disapproval. Ilyumzhinov then published a press release saying it was “unfortunate that some people are trying to use this trip to wrongfully politicize the situation in FIDE”.


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, 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.


Anthony's picture

Ah, at last, someone with some real info.

Yes, Central Banking is even more despicable than Big Oil

Read her book also, if you care to know what's really going on in the world

S's picture

It's not about oil or banking. It's just that Sarkozy wasn't looking forward to hordes of uncivilized immigrants landing the French shores because of internal strife in Libya. Unfortunately for Sarko, but not surprisingly, removing Khadaffi turned out to be less than easy and a long term affair.

S's picture

This is a chess website, but unfortunately it's also used as a tool to attack Ilyu now and then.
Anyway, nothing wrong with Ilyu sharing this info of course.

Thomas's picture

If Ilyumzhinov merely shared an "info", then Chessvibes did the same rather than 'attacking' him.
But two questions remain: Why did Gaddafi pick Ilyumzhinov as his spokesman? Why did Ilyumzhinov act as Gaddafi's spokesman, quoting more from him than "I am still in Tripoli"?
BTW it's even unclear whether the "info" is factually correct. Other sources or rumors stated that Gaddafi is in the desert near the Algerian border getting ready to leave the country - noone really knows which "info" coincides with reality, Ilyumzhinov himself can't even verify that Gaddafi really called from Tripoli.

S3's picture

It's an attack because of the tone and style of the article. It's not merely a factual statement. I really think you are smart enough to know that Thomas ;)

As for the why..maybe Khadaffi is just calling his remaining friends in these difficult times. But who knows what is going on in his mind.. And who cares?

Thomas's picture

Yes, I am smart enough to notice that Chessvibes/Peter Doggers doesn't like Ilyumzhinov, for whichever reason (a few make perfect sense to me). My point was that Ilyumzhinov wasn't just factual either - safe to say that he isn't a neutral observer in the Libyan conflict ... .

For Gaddafi, it might make perfect sense to call his (few) remaining friends - it's, to put it mildly, remarkable that Ilyumzhinov is one of them. Who cares what's going on in Gaddafi's mind? Maybe Libyan people do, as long as he can still cause some damage (the war isn't completely over yet). Who cares what's going on in Kirsan's mind? Unfortunately part of the chess world does out of necessity - as long as he can still cause some damage to the reputation of chess.

S's picture

Ilyu strikes me as rather factual in the article above; as far as I know he only told what Khadaffi said and doesn't take a stand himself.

Harry Caray's picture

Bad press is better than no press, some would say.

derdudea's picture

Looking at some political statements here, someone could get the impression that a political psychopath is not a bad fit for FIDE president. I guess there are some of his voters posting here.

WGIFM's picture

Probably Ghadaffi's and Kirsan's chess undersstanding is at the same level, which is the basis of their everlasting firendship.
I remember a book about the chess games of communist pary leaders. Some of them were funny as hell.

Septimus's picture

Attack Holland? Seriously dude...

Justin's picture


Joe Fiasco's picture

I can't beat it when people who are debating come with phrases saying: 'true, Saddam wasn't a pleasant chap, BUT...'.
This shows your total ignorance in Iraqi history of the last fifty years. It's not that he had a somewhat rough reign, no, people were made to see (and applaud!) as their fathers, mothers, brothers and close relatives were being executed. Tens of thousands of Kurds were gassed with chemical stuff. Uday Hussein raped hundreds of university girls for his pleasure and then threw them to the dogs. And please do read about all the torture prisons and what went on in there.

Sir, if you call that 'maintaining internal order', then I wish for you to have lived a week under Saddam's command. Indeed, as another reader reacted, by your policy, we should have left the Soviets and the Nazis as they were, I mean, they sur maintained internal order.

I'm happy you're not in charge of much political power in this world, who knows how many millions more you would let suffer.

And yes, surely, the Arab-controlled UN is an objective source to count the dead. Not long ago, we had Syria and Libya as heads of the Human Rights Council. What a joke.

LMedemblik's picture


Reason is simple: too much negativity.

eric's picture

I think Medembliks reaction is completely out of line. 'Wimp'? 'Better start knitting'? Please show some respect and stick to arguments.

LMedemblik's picture


Reason is simple: too much negativity.

LMedemblik's picture


LMedemblik's picture

"this is PEACE AND FREEDOM we are bringing, ok??’

I think you have met to many aliens when visiting Ilyumzhinov.

Burnett's picture

As on a smaller scale I do not want to know to much about the private or social life of my chess club chairman, traesurer or coffee waitress, this twaddle about a chap that has only a decorative function in chess affairs is pointless ad nauseam.

Thomas's picture

The full headline goes "Ilyumzhinov: ‘Gaddafi still in Tripoli’ ". Gaddafi isn't chess news, but Ilyumzhinov is. At an earlier occasion, he linked his support for Gaddafi to his role as FIDE president. Now he doesn't merely spread the news "Gaddafi still in Tripoli" (which may or may not be true) but acts as his propaganda spokesman: "I will fight to the end ... lying reports by Western television companies".

Even if some people here seem to think that a dictator in full control is better than uncertainty and chaos once he's gone, this is not what I expect from a FIDE president. And this isn't how I want chess to be mentioned in mainstream media.

Joe's picture

In the safe anonymity of the internet, I always turn into a little kid which can only remotely be recognized as an 18+ person with working mental faculties... Behind the computer I'm used to let the computer think rather than myself (and yes my computer showed me my previous wrong spelling of anonymity).
I think it can be compared with that Freudian longing for the mother womb. Pretty sad that we need the internet for that now :P

Or was that the sort of negative talk you want to avoid? :P

Frits Fritschy's picture

Thanks for your support...!

Burnett's picture

As on a smaller scale I do not want to know to much about the private or social life of my chess club chairman, traesurer or coffee waitress, this twaddle about a chap that has only a decorative function in chess affairs is ad nauseam.

S's picture

Just for the record, it was not the USA but France and Great Brittain who started military actions. They were asked to do so by the Arab Emirates and S-Arabia.
You can't blame this one on the USA.

Septimus's picture

Why is this guy making statements about wars and political turmoil in other countries? What does this have to do with chess?

S3's picture

Ilyu didn't make a statement on war and political turmoil, he only told us what Khadaffi said to him. I suppose he did that because there are millions of people who are interested and would like to know about Khadafi's whereabouts. Or do you think that it is only the chessvibes editors who are glued to the television?

Septimus's picture

I'm sure Ghaddafi and the FIDE President keep you in the loop regarding their conversation. But since you are the second coming of the lord and the savior Jesus H Christ, you are privy to everything anyway.

Sport is supposed to be an apolitical pursuit. Who the hell cares about people glued to the TV? The point is, this has nothing to do with chess, so the president of the FIDE has no business bringing chess into a political tinderbox.

Perhaps you can join Ghaddafi. The both of you can hit the club or something...

S's picture

Septimus, no blasphemy please.
If Ilyu has news to share he should be allowed to do so. No matter what his job is.

And for the record, Ilyu is not just Fide president but also a former politician.

Septimus's picture

With his position and mantle as a leader of a non-political organization, he should not be making statements willy-nilly. It is irresponsible and unprofessional. You say he is a former politician, so please, let us emphasize on the word 'former".

S's picture

By your logic the Brits and Americans should have left Europe to the Nazi's.

Michael Lubin's picture

Another incident that makes chess look just great to the world...sigh.

calvin amari's picture

Yes, our tone deaf thug of a leader decided yet again to proclaim chess players as the only ally of Qaddafi.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

Qaddafi is being charged for war crimes? Who will pay for the crimes in Iraq?

stevefraser's picture


MJul's picture

Daaim Shabazz: Iraq war crimes were committed under presidents and prime ministers of first world countries orders.

Wich means: nobody is going to pay.

Joe Fiasco's picture

How about Saddam? After all, the true war crimes (rape, torture, chemical gas, imrisonment, execution, hanging) of the last 30 in Iraq are at his hand.

Learn your history before pointing fingers.

Anthony's picture

Saddam murdered 300k civilians during his 30 year reign.
Quite a despicable record in itself.

but the sanctions of the post Gulf War 1 killed 500k Iraqi children alone. Madeleine Albright famously called this 'a price worth paying'.
Since 2003 an estimated 1,5 MILLION Iraqi's lost their lives as a result of the invasion, occupation and 'civil war'.

The West is one of the top massmurderers of the 20th century, after Mao, Hitler and Stalin. An estimated 10 to 20 million lives were ended through our peacekeeping missions and humanitarian interventions since 1945.

I suggest you take some of your own medicine dude.

realitycheck's picture

@ Daaim Shabbazz

The poor, the innocent american tax payer and the rich folks who voted against George W. Bush will pay for the war crimes in Iraq.

I think chessbase recently showed a photo of former world champion Garry Kasparov and former President George W. Bush. I'm wondering if Garry gotta chance to get a couple snap-shots in with Cheney or Rumsfeld. Good publicity.

Anthony's picture

I agree, the only reason I'm commenting is because of the rather presumptuous tone of voice of the articles and most of the comments.

'We're all so democratic and WE know all about freedom, so let us please export it and don't dare resist or think otherwise, this is PEACE AND FREEDOM we are bringing, ok??'

The automatic 'Ilyu is a fool' narrative will not go unchallenged, but I won't start if this blog and it's readers don't either.

Perhaps it would be better to avoid politics altogether, including personal opinions on the wisdom of Ilyumzhinov's visits to dictators.

On the other hand: the world is burning so maybe a little awakening to facts of life is not superfluous either.

I don't know............

Joe's picture

I have to agree with KingTal. This whole article has only very remotely anything to do with chess and is quite political business. Apart from that, the amount of facts displayed in this report could be boiled down to about one sentence: 'Ilyumzhinov was called by Gadaffi according to Interfax.' Even the part about Gadaffi stating he doesn't intent to leave Lybia is quite superfluous, as he never has intended to.

Also judging by the average quality of comments KingTals comment seems a very much justified question. After all, Chessvibes is luckily not a forum for political kibitzers knowing their stuff better than any politician in the world.

marlowe77's picture

One really has to wonder about the mental state of all those low or high level ministers/ministerial staffers world-wide who still shake hands with Kirsan after this. Who in the right mind would agree to government-sponsored programs (such as chess in schools or chess in education) inspired by FIDE when its own leader befriends dictators responsible for war crimes? And how exactly is Kirsan still allowed in classrooms full of children to display his bullshit propaganda on "behalf of chess"? Some people in those countries where such things are still happening need a quick wake up call. Only when this Kirsan, a sleazy cartoonish character, is actually banned from meeting even low-level ministerial officials (even in third world countries), when he's isolated and treated for what he really is, perhaps things will change for the better. Example: he continues to meet with government officials in Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, etc. The only country with a reliable, mature and reputable government service in the area - Singapore - has constantly denied to grant him any sort of meeting (even with lowest level of government staffers). Some basic research would simply reveal how damaging would be to actually spend tax-payers money on entertaining this moron. Yet, many third-world countries aren't interested at all in maintaining a reputable image. They're only interested in cheap, self-serving propaganda and potential chash-cows. Kirsan delivers both while he gets legitimized (at least on It is often the case that a slimy political class in third world countries (or at least, money-hungry mid-level politicians) is responsible for granting even a gram of legitimity to this clown. To be perfectly frank, I wouldn't mind Kirsan taking another trip to Tripoli compound and - by all means - end up being roughed up just a little bit by those rebels. The latter can act as the very unlikely agents of change in the currently messed-up chess world.

marlowe77's picture

This is the kind of publicity chess gets meanwhile....

calvin amari's picture

This should give Ilyumzhinov fans some perspective. The article refers to "a bizarre, brutal and probably psychopathic man" -- referring to Ilyumzhinov not Gaddafi.

Anthony's picture

And this is the whole point:
Saddam and Qaddafi are/were not pleasant chaps.

But they maintained internal order.

The US have proven to be unable to do so, both in Iraq and Afganistan. Resulting in mass civilian casualties.

This is not 'unpredictable', if you know how it works, it was easily forseeable. It was forseen by many independent observers.

You are wrong to say we cannot blame the US for internal strife.

It is normal procedure to count the dead as a result of the 'civil war' (it is an interesting subject in itself to study what is behind that) as part of the price of invasion. It would not have happened if Saddam would still have been in charge.

The UN and all other NGO's count this way everywhere in the world.

There is no doubt it is more pleasant and safe to live in the US or holland than under Mao's cultural revolution.

But for normal Lybians or Iraqi's in pre 1991 Iraq life was pretty pleasant too.
You can look that up for yourself, but Qaddafi held out for as long as he did, because normal Lybians had it very good with their oilwealth\, most of which was used to build up the country. Of course Qaddafi took his part of the spoils, but so does Tony Blair, who has already taken in more than 50 million since he left office. You can rest assured that will end shortly. Also Gaddafi supplied his people with interest free mortgages and business loans. Were you aware that interest free credit actually exists?
See reality check's comment to find out what will happen with those............

All western government leaders get their part of the pillaging after they leave office, they become 'advisers' of banks, so there is not so much difference as you might imagine.

Joe Fiasco's picture

Well, I have not been whitewashing the dead the United States and its allies have brought around the world. I think any decent study of the life if Henry Kissinger could serve as a compendium on the subject.

But we should not be confusing things. The vast majority of dead that have befallen Iraq since the American presence are NOT the result of the invasion but of internal strife. Practically every week there are suicide bombings in mosques, schools and the like. To blame this on the Americans would be hypocritical and ignorant to say the least.

Much like in Libya, the reign of Saddam had to end. More than thirty years of mass murder and torture can not be allowed to prosper in this world. Should it be done in the way it was done? Wasn't there a hundred failures? Probably yes, but the underlying note is clear. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. After almost half a century, the Shia-inhabitants and the Kurds have a right to exist in their own respect.
How dare you put 'the West' in the list of the greatest mass-murderers in history. It's clear you've never lived in a totalitarian country.

Thierry's picture

Ilyumzhinov strikes again !
Nothing serious, I hope?
It will mean nothing less than putting shadow on chess world . What a nice advertising campaign!
Ridicule never killed anyone , even George in Irak

grabapawnalot's picture

Gaddfi -Phones ->Kirhan ->phones alien Boss....

Alien flying saucers land in the compound and take Gaddafi away

not laughing now are you

realitycheck's picture
KingTal's picture

"Gaddafi still in Tripoli", is this a chessnews website or what?

LMedemblik's picture

Gaddafi was in the news related to chess not so long ago.
Maybe your brain looks like a chessboard but it surely does not work like one.
Please play on with your Dinky Toys.


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