CHENNAI: A Russian former deputy premier was re-elected Sunday as head of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), its electoral chairman said, seeing off a Ukrainian challenger who said his position was untenable because of Moscow’s invasion.
A total of 157 out of 179 national chess associations voted in India to re-elect Arkady Dvorkovich as FIDE president, said Roberto Rivello, the chair of the body’s electoral commission.
Ukrainian grandmaster Andrii Baryshpolets won just 16 votes. There were five abstentions and one invalid vote.
Numerous Russian officials have been hit with sanctions since the invasion of Ukraine in February, and Russian competitors have been banned by numerous international sports governing bodies.
But Dvorkovich, 50, who served under President Vladimir Putin as deputy prime minister from 2012-2018 when he was elected FIDE president, has retained his position at the chess body.
Baryshpolets told member countries before the vote in Chennai that Dvorkovich has “tremendous ties to the Russian government”.
“You Arkady are responsible for what happened in Ukraine now. You are responsible for building up the Russian government and Russia’s war machine. And we as a chess world, how can we afford this?” the Ukrainian said.
But Dvorkovich said that he took “a strong position of tragic events in Ukraine, as well as supported throughout the Council decisions regarding scaling down Russia’s involvement in FIDE”.
In March Dvorkovich appeared to criticise Russia’s invasion, saying in an interview that his “thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians”.
“Wars do not just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections,” Dvorkovich told US news site Mother Jones.
The comments drew flak in Russia and Dvorkovich later seemed to row back, issuing a statement saying that there was “no place for Nazism or the domination of some countries over others”.
This was seen as coded support for the Kremlin, which portrays Ukraine as being run by Nazis and accuses Western countries of seeking to take over Russia’s neighbor by stealth.
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