The chess king of Kalmykia steps down

One of the world’s most eccentric leaders, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has announced that he is stepping down as president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia after 17 years in power in order to focus on regaining control of the international chess federation. Ilyumzhinov is best known for his ongoing campaign to transform his impoverished republic into ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images
DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images
DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images

One of the world's most eccentric leaders, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has announced that he is stepping down as president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia after 17 years in power in order to focus on regaining control of the international chess federation.

Ilyumzhinov is best known for his ongoing campaign to transform his impoverished republic into the world capital of chess, including constructing a $50 billion "chess city." The Russian central government, which appoints the presidents of the republics has been cleaning house lately and the Kalmyk president appears to have been given the boot. (No word on whether the accusations that Ilyumzhinov divulged Russian state secrets while he was abducted by extraterrestrials played a role in his sacking.) 

In May, Carl Schreck profiled Ilyumzhinov's ongoing struggle against grandmaster Anatoly Karpov for control of the world chess federation, which will come to a head amidst a flurry of backroom dealing and legal action during this year's biennial chess olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia on Sept. 29. 

One of the world’s most eccentric leaders, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has announced that he is stepping down as president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia after 17 years in power in order to focus on regaining control of the international chess federation.

Ilyumzhinov is best known for his ongoing campaign to transform his impoverished republic into the world capital of chess, including constructing a $50 billion "chess city." The Russian central government, which appoints the presidents of the republics has been cleaning house lately and the Kalmyk president appears to have been given the boot. (No word on whether the accusations that Ilyumzhinov divulged Russian state secrets while he was abducted by extraterrestrials played a role in his sacking.) 

In May, Carl Schreck profiled Ilyumzhinov’s ongoing struggle against grandmaster Anatoly Karpov for control of the world chess federation, which will come to a head amidst a flurry of backroom dealing and legal action during this year’s biennial chess olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia on Sept. 29. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Russia

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