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Crimea Conflict on the Chessboard

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 06-07-14 02:48.

The Ukrainian Chess Federation has sent an open letter to the World Chess Federation (FIDE) “in respect of the exclusive jurisdiction” and “to express grave concern on increased number of serious violations of FIDE rules and principles by the FIDE Secretariat.”

In other words: the Crimea conflict between Ukraine and Russia has now become part of chess politics as well. 

This week Chess.com received an open letter by the Ukrainian Chess Federation (in PDF here), addressed to FIDE. The issues discussed seem to be the result of the tense relations between Ukraine and Russia, and their national chess federations.

First, the UCF urges FIDE to “express its position as to the organization of chess tournaments on the territory of Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Ukraine) and city of Sevastopol.” Since FIDE holds the principle that only one national chess federation is recognized on the territory of a state, the UCF claims that it still holds exclusive jurisdiction over the territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, even after its annexation by Russia in February. 

The UCF wrote a proposal to the FIDE General Assembly that will be held 11-14 August in Tromsø, Norway and referred to the UN resolution about the Crimea conflict:

In accordance with the Olympic Charter and Chapter 02 of FIDE Statutes, one of the fundamental principles of FIDE is that only one national federation should have the principal authority over chess activities in each country. Taking into account that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and city of Sevastopol remain integral parts of the territory of Ukraine in accordance with the resolution of UN General Assembly meeting of 27 March 2014 and international law, FIDE affirms that the Ukrainian Chess Federation remains exclusive authority over chess activities under FIDE auspices conducted in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol (Crimea region).

The Ukrainian Chess Federation remains the only national chess federation validly formed in Ukraine. FIDE will consider any attempt by another national chess federation to organize chess tournament under auspices of FIDE or otherwise exercise its jurisdiction in the territory of Crimea region as contrary to the Statutes of FIDE and the Olympic Charter.

However, on the official Agenda for the General Assembly this proposal by the UCF was not included. The UCF claims that it was sent to the FIDE Secretariat as early as 5 May 2014 (the open letter has “2013” but that must be a typo), well in time for the Agenda's deadline. And according to the FIDE Statutes, it therefore has to be included in the Agenda:

“4.11 Proposals of members or FIDE officials or organisations, or affiliated international organisations admitted under Art. 2.8, which are to be included in the agenda for the General Assembly, should reach the Secretariat not later than three months before the beginning of the General Assembly, together with the reasons for the proposals.

Proposals submitted within this time limit must be included in the agenda for the General Assembly.”

The open letter describes the communication between the UCF and FIDE in this matter:

(...) FIDE Secretariat stated first that “Proposal N 1 is not for FIDE, as this is your internal issue” and subsequently that “Proposal 1 is political and thus should not be on the Agenda” and, therefore, such proposals must be excluded from the Agenda. Thus, the FIDE Secretariat (more precisely the FIDE Executive Director Mr. Freeman) violated mandatory provisions of the FIDE Chapter 04 (article 4.11) as it is not within the authorities of FIDE Secretariat to make such a decision and the Secretariat simply is not authorized to take the functions of the General Assembly in assessing the content of the proposal.

All attempts to receive comments of Mr. Freeman in respect of mandatory nature of the provision relating to the inclusion of the proposals into Agenda remained unattended. The only comment was that “As FIDE Secretariat, we are responsible for the Agenda” which is a far-reaching and dangerous conclusion beyond any reasonable interpretation of the functions of the FIDE Secretariat. 

FIDE claims that the issue is political, while the UCF claims it is not. This can be debated, but the UCF seems to have point when they claim that the issue is not “internal.” More than one national chess federation is involved: both the Ukrainian and Russian chess federations.

Lately, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has made the impression that he has excellent relations with the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and so it won't be a surprise when future events held in Crimea will be rated as Russian events. Now that the UCF proposal is not on the General Assembly Agenda, the matter cannot even be discussed.

FIDE's policy isn't different from those of other big sports organizations, such as FIFA or UEFA, who tend to avoid intervention and prefer to remain on the sidelines. When former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko was imprisoned shortly before Euro 2012, which was staged in Ukraine and Poland, UEFA officially took “no position.”

The UCF's open letter ends with an issue that is not directly related to the Crimea conflict, but again the UCF and the RCF are involved. It is about a possible transfer of world #7 on the women's rating list, Kateryna Lagno, from the Ukrainian Chess Federation to the Russian Chess Federation. Until this moment it is unclear under which flag she will play at the upcoming Olympiad, but since the UCF is against the transfer, it is unlikely that she will be play for Russia in Tromsø.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is one that affects the whole world, and now it is also fought over the chessboard. At the risk of using a terrible cliche, the two countries definitely seem to have reached a stalemate position.


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  • 5 maanden geleden

    knightkrawlirr

    if you have the ukraine and russia play a chess match in order to decide who "gets" crimea, make sure you inform both teams of such fundamental information as who why when what where. don't allow some ignoble situation to transpire where one team has this information and the other doesn't; this would likely lead to further conflict between the two beligerents and become a giant debacle.

  • 5 maanden geleden

    niceforkinmove

    inselschaker

    I numbered your questions:

    " Technically, you may be correct - though there's some ambiguity in the phrase "together with the reasons for the proposals". Separate from this particular issue: 1) Should _any_ proposal, no matter how weird, marginally or not at all related to chess, be discussed just because it was submitted before the deadline? 2) Or does FIDE retain the right to do some 'screening'? 3) The next question would be: Was FIDE (technically Freeman, not Ilyumzhinov) right to reject this particular proposal?"


    1) The rules couldn't be more clear on this.  Any proposal submited by the deadline by a federation is to addressed.

    2)  FIDE can change its rules and and let a secretary decide to screen issues.  If they do that national federations can choose whether they want to be in FIDE.  But they shouldn't have rules and then ignored them based on their political views.


    3)  This question is easy to answer based on the first 2 questions.  The secretary is not given discretion under the rules.  So there is no issue.  The issue should be addressed.  

     

  • 5 maanden geleden

    herr_rossi

    When I said the federations are FIDE I meant it literally, not figuratively. FIDE is a federation of federations. The members of FIDE are the federations. Neither functionaries like Mr Freeman nor individual chessplayers are FIDE members. The General Assembly is the body where such proposals of federations may be discussed. The General Assembly is also the body that defines and may change the rules which proposals should be dismissed without discussion. Afaik the Presidential Board has some leeway to make up its own rules when needed. But the FIDE Secretary surely has to stay within procedural bounds.

    The Ukrainian federation has followed procedure to start a discussion among the federations. But Mr Freeman has decided by himself that no such discussion will take place.

    That would be as if some functionary from the ruling party would have the right to tell parliament what topics not to debate. That's a little too Putinist for my taste. (For the record: I don't think the proposal would achieve anything.)

  • 5 maanden geleden

    inselschaker

    @herr_rossi: Fair point, but ... :

    First, I didn't say that this decision by the FIDE leadership is 100% right, unlike others here in this forum I am just not so sure that it is 100% wrong.

    Second, "where are the federations"? It would be a different situation if the Ukrainian proposal was openly supported by other federations eager to discuss politics at the General Assembly - either when it was submitted or now.

    Third, by the same logic one could argue that FIDE isn't federations, but individual chess-playing members. Should any individual member have the right to submit proposals? For example (to make it an international affair) if a German player is unhappy with an arbiter decision in the Swiss team competition!!?

  • 5 maanden geleden

    herr_rossi

    @inselschaker

    Your choice of words sounds like you think the Secretary or the President would be FIDE. But that's not true. The federations are FIDE. Mr Freeman is a functionary who has to follow the procedures the federations agreed upon.

  • 6 maanden geleden

    mcris

    Thanks for the video! The flags were shown in New-York, where in the background is written Pergamon Chess and Interscope on the table, between the flags. So not in Lyon (Campionnat du Monde des Echecs/TF1 in the background)

  • 6 maanden geleden

    kamalakanta

    The previous photo was from game 16...this one is from game 14...

    Again, no flags...maybe the flags were in NY, which would be logical, for obvious political reasons....and since I don't like to talk about politics, I will stop right here.

  • 6 maanden geleden

    kamalakanta

    mcris, here's the Youtube link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rxy1wYFN29M

  • 6 maanden geleden

    kamalakanta

    Ok, mcris, the debate continues...here's a snapshot from the video of the Lyon match...as far as I can see, there are NO FLAGS on the table at any moment...

    so far, that's all I got...

  • 6 maanden geleden

    mcris

    Ok, maybe upload to YouTube and post a link?

  • 6 maanden geleden

    kamalakanta

    wow, mcris, that is amazing! I have a video with a lot of footage from that match. Will take a look! Thanks!

  • 6 maanden geleden

    Akil_Kanaan

    GREED...it messes up everything doesn't it?

  • 6 maanden geleden

    Akil_Kanaan

    EARTH....we're all from there...

  • 6 maanden geleden

    Bananiq

    It is not an honor to be part of government that shells its own houses and kills its own people. Not related to chess at all.

  • 6 maanden geleden

    inselschaker

    @niceforkinmove:

    "The issue raised by this article is not whether Crimea Should be part of Russia or the Ukraine. The issue is simply whether FIDE secretary can break the rules and refuse to put the proposal forward."

     Technically, you may be correct - though there's some ambiguity in the phrase "together with the reasons for the proposals". Separate from this particular issue: Should _any_ proposal, no matter how weird, marginally or not at all related to chess, be discussed just because it was submitted before the deadline? Or does FIDE retain the right to do some 'screening'? The next question would be: Was FIDE (technically Freeman, not Ilyumzhinov) right to reject this particular proposal?

    What could be achieved by discussing the Ukrainian proposal? What is the actual reason behind it? If Ukraine wants to organize chess events in Crimea, it's clearly beyond FIDE's powers to help them make it happen. If Russia wants to organize events ... do they?? It isn't mentioned in the proposal.

    I am leaning towards the Ukrainian side in the political conflict (without thinking they are 100% right about everything). But I tend to agree with Freeman that the proposal is political - and it doesn't become apolitical just because the UCF says so.

  • 6 maanden geleden

    wjcsz

    China will ranking No.1 in FIDE country rankings if a war break out between Russia and Ukraine.Tongue Out

  • 6 maanden geleden

    pn9999

    hello guys.

    Cool

  • 6 maanden geleden

    niceforkinmove

    "Corruption and rule breaking will be the norm as long as Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is president of FIDE..."

    This.  

    The issue raised by this article is not whether Crimea Should be part of Russia or the Ukraine.  


    The issue is simply whether FIDE secretary can break the rules and refuse to put the proposal forward.   

  • 6 maanden geleden

    drumdaddy

    Rectangular and triangular flags don't fit into the round hole that is world chess. Flags are cloths. Fold and put away.

  • 6 maanden geleden

    FM TheMagician

    Chess should be used to Unite Countries in Conflict and should set aside Judgemental behaviour of a Political nature and allow everybody to play under any flag they want to use. if a country is offended by this they need only be advised that if that (complainant) country had famine and natural disaster and was taken over their players could play for The United Nations Team or under any Flag if they so desire.Hell our Australian native Aboriginals would lend them the Aboriginal Flag...God Bless (any God is welcome) the peace-loving people of all countries. 

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