In Box

More Epiphanies: Garry Kasparov

[ONE DAY] AT AGE 12, I discovered that I was the [under-18 chess] champion of the Soviet Union. And the man who was in charge of [Soviet] junior chess made a little speech at the closing ceremony. He said, ‘What can I say about Garry Kasparov? If you are the youngest player in the tournament ...

[ONE DAY] AT AGE 12, I discovered that I was the [under-18 chess] champion of the Soviet Union. And the man who was in charge of [Soviet] junior chess made a little speech at the closing ceremony. He said, 'What can I say about Garry Kasparov? If you are the youngest player in the tournament and you are, at 12, the Soviet champion under 18, thats enough.' It was a clear indication that [chess] was the track I had to take.

[Chess] is probably not a natural talent; it's a great comfort. I looked at the chessboard to find something new -- not just to win, but to expand horizons.

There are roads that we choose, and roads that choose us.

[ONE DAY] AT AGE 12, I discovered that I was the [under-18 chess] champion of the Soviet Union. And the man who was in charge of [Soviet] junior chess made a little speech at the closing ceremony. He said, ‘What can I say about Garry Kasparov? If you are the youngest player in the tournament and you are, at 12, the Soviet champion under 18, thats enough.’ It was a clear indication that [chess] was the track I had to take.

[Chess] is probably not a natural talent; it’s a great comfort. I looked at the chessboard to find something new — not just to win, but to expand horizons.

There are roads that we choose, and roads that choose us.

I call [Putin] cappo di tutti capi, ‘boss of all bosses.’ He always considered democracy a coverup for his dictatorial powers. And he believes, maybe he still believes, that for his Western counterparts, it’s also a coverup. Dealing with Berlusconi and Schroeder, you can get the wrong idea about democracy.

How do you know [Putin] is popular? It’s a police state! It’s all a dictatorship. Saddam Hussein was popular.

I think that a free and fair election, with two or three weeks of open, public debates on television, will destroy this regime.

Sooner or later, there will be a big investigation with what happened with the roughly $60 billion of Gazprom funds that ended up in the hands of Putin’s close friends.

Putin’s regime will not be pushed back or will not be stopped until they are stopped. They dont understand big talk. It’s a street mentality, a gang mentality. They recognize only strength.

In the minds of Russians, change is associated with negatives.

The first day in jail was really difficult because I didn’t know whether it would be five days or an indefinite period. Then at the end of the day, they brought me a parcel from home with some food. And I recognized that things were probably looking OK.

[The prison guards] were asking for autographs, taking pictures with me. But I was always on guard. I knew if there was an order, they would change. But I was quite pleased to see that ordinary people, without special instructions, were very friendly. That destroys the myth that ordinary Russians don’t understand things, that they hate all liberals because they are American spies — nobody believes that. I’m the Soviet champion. And the fact is that I’m in jail, so it is proof for them that I’m taking a real chance to change things.

I hate telling you, ‘I said so.’ [Invading Georgia was] a belligerent action, but this regime was never shy of pushing things to the limit because they believe the West is weak.

For the original Epiphanies interview that appeared in the November/December 2008 issue of FP, click here.

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