MOSCOW, March 28. /TASS, Rustam Sharafutdinov/. The United States Chess Federation never pushed for the resignation of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov from the post of the World Chess Federation’s (FIDE) presidency, though it views his potential departure as beneficial for the sport of chess, US Chess Federation President Gary Walters told TASS.
"While we believe that it is time for new leadership in FIDE, we have never demanded Kirsan Illyumzhinov's resignation," Walters said in his written statement to TASS. "That resignation, however, would be good for the game."
On Monday, FIDE’s official website posted a statement on President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s supposed resignation. It stated that FIDE’s president announced his decision to step down at a meeting of the organization’s council in Athens on March 26. However, Ilyumzhinov rejected this report while talking to TASS.
The FIDE head says that someone has tried to play the ‘US-entry-ban’ card to oust him from the presidential post of the world’s chess federation.
"I believe it all happened because of my inclusion in the US sanctions list, and certain members of the (FIDE) Presidential Board decided that I should leave," Ilyumzhinov said earlier in an interview with TASS.
In the wake of his resignation rumors, Ilyumzhinov said on Monday that the fuss was sparked by the US Chess Federation and their allies.
"This intrigue has been whipped up by the US Chess Federation and its allies," Ilyumzhinov said. "And this attempt is the latest among many."
In November 2015, the United States Department of Treasury slapped sanctions on Ilyumzhinov stating that he had been "materially assisting and acting for, or on behalf of the Government of Syria, Central Bank of Syria." Ilyumzhinov denied the allegations saying he had no commercial interests in Syria.
The FIDE chief announced his plans last spring to go to New York for the 2016 FIDE World Chess Championship last November and hoped that the US-imposed sanctions would be lifted by that time. However, his hopes were dashed and Ilyumzhinov had to watch the battle for the World Chess Crown online.
Russian businessman and longtime FIDE President Ilyumzhinov was re-elected to this post in August 2014 beating former world chess champion, Garry Kasparov. Ilyumzhinov won 110 votes, while Grandmaster Kasparov garnered 61 FIDE mandates.
In 2010, the current FIDE chief faced a similar challenge by another former world champion, Anatoly Karpov, Kasparov's long-time rival. Ilyumzhinov plans to run for re-election again in 2018.
The 54-year-old FIDE president, who has headed the federation since 1995, promised to put chess into the Winter Olympics’ program.