MOSCOW, March 29. /TASS/. FIDE (International Chess Federation) Executive Director Nigel Freeman and Georgios Makropoulos, deputy to the FIDE president, attempted to stage a coup within the federation, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said on Wednesday.
On Monday, FIDE’s official website posted a statement on President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s supposed resignation. It stated that FIDE’s president supposedly 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.
"I demanded that Nigel Freeman, the executive director, issue a retraction after FIDE’s official website posted an announcement on my resignation," Ilyumzhinov told journalists. "I wrote him letters and called him up."
"He switched off the phone," Ilyumzhinov said. " Makropoulos did the same thing, although I knew that he had been at the FIDE headquarters in Athens all that time."
"It seems that they were gunning for a small revolution. They sought to stage a coup," he said. "It also seems that they are afraid of losing their comfortable positions."
Ilyumzhinov said that an agreement from the FIDE Congress’ delegates is necessary to dismiss Freeman and Makropoulos, adding "I cannot sack them on my own, although I had great trust in them."
The FIDE president told TASS on Tuesday that his attempts to get in touch with the federation’s secretariat were being ignored and his explanatory letter regarding the situation had not been considered by FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos and was not published on the official website.
Ilyumzhinov’s official letter was published on FIDE’s website only on late Tuesday afternoon and in response to it, FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman stated: "During the Presidential Board Meeting in Athens, you several times threatened to resign and at the end of the meeting, three times you repeated ‘I resign’ before leaving the room."
Addressing a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday, Ilyumzhinov said he did not intend to resign over US sanctions, which were imposed against him.
"Last year I handed over part of my obligations, which concerned financial activities, to FIDE Vice President Makropoulos," Ilyumzhinov noted. "It was done against the advice many people gave me to not do that."
"However, I wanted the tournament for the chess crown to be held in New York dedicating it to our favorite chess player Bobby Fischer, so no sanctions could have frustrated the tournament," the FIDE president stressed.
"However, during the previous Presidential Board’s session some of its members began exerting pressure on me," Ilyumzhinov added. "Some started talks on the 2018 elections, while others expressed opinions that it was time for me to leave."
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 in November of 2016 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, Ilyumzhinov 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.