It will be decided who is to make the exchange of the inconvenient federation on Wednesday

VLADIMIR YONCHEV | 07 June 2016 at 09:10

silvio-danailovPutin’s long arm has often been accused of any kind of things and often the accusations have sounded ridiculous. However, there is a case, where the President of Russia is strongly involved and there is also direct Bulgarian involvement in this case too.
Chess is one of the major sports in Russia. Its importance can be commeasured only with ice hockey and is much greater than the importance of football.
Chess is important not only because each Russian believes it is predestined for a Russian to be World Champion. It is important also because chess has produced the greatest Russian stars, and one of them – Gary Kasparov is the major political opponent of Vladimir Putin.

The battle who to reign over world chess is one of the largest geopolitical clashes. If an explicit opponent to Putin gets in the lead, this position would give him a greater legitimacy and authority in the eyes of Russians than the legitimacy and authority of any politician whatsoever.

Due to certain circumstances Bulgaria is also takes part in this battle of giants. Due to the fact that Silvio Danailov, Manager of Veselin Topalov, belongs to the group of pro-western group of leaders in world chess, there is a possibility for the Bulgarian Chess Federation, presided by Danailov, to be closed down and replaced by a new safe one.
On Wednesday, in a competition that raises many questions, the person is expected to be elected who will have to perform this task formally.
The background of this conflict between the West and Russia where we about to be the ones to be lynched, is long and extremely curious.

The King of Chess
Ever since 1995 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been the leader of FIDE (the World Chess Federation). He is the first President and the first head of state of Kalmykia – a Republic in Russia, member of the ruling United Russia Party and proprietor of the Bulgarian Petrol AD for a period of time although it didn’t become clear whether he ever got his title of ownership effectively at all.
And more importantly, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is the first Russian (citizen of Russia, to be precise) who is in charge of world chess. The only Russian in charge of an international sports federation.
Winning the post was one of the greatest geopolitical victories of Russia. During the time of the Cold War, the most painful propaganda blows on the Soviet Union were connected with FIDE.
In 1976, the right to challenge the chess crown was given to Viktor Korchnoi – a Russian who had emigrated to Switzerland first and then to the Netherlands. He was the first famous emigrant from the USSR to compete with his mother country on the sports field. The drama went far beyond the limits of sport. USSR made everything possible to prevent the match from taking place. They argued that Korchnoi had played without a flag in the challenger tournament because he did not have a country to play for. FIDE, however stood on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
This drama came shortly after yet another huge scandal where FIDE had not taken the USSR side – US chess player Bobby Fisher accused four Soviet chess players (including Korchnoi) of match fixing so that he was left 4th in the chess crown challenger tournament.
Shortly after that, FIDE interpreted their own rules in quite a flexible way and allowed Bobby Fisher to play a match for the world crown with the Russian Boris Spaski which should not have happened if the interpretation of the rules was stricter.
Fisher demolished Spaski which was the most painful defeat on the sports field for the Russians, and the US media gave particular attention to that match in a sport which they had had no interest in before that.

kasparov- ilyuzhimov

The Bulgarian Connection
In 2005, Veselin Topalov wan the title World Champion in chess. At that time there were two World Champions in chess. In 1993, Gary Kasparov founded his own tournament which also proclaimed a World Champion in chess. Russia made huge efforts to stop the tournament of Kasparov – Putin’s most popular opponent.
In 2006 the two tournament merged. The merger match was played in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia. Vessselin Topalov played against a Russian – Vladimir Kramnik.
The match was one of the most scandalous ones in chess history: due to the unnaturally frequent visits of Kramnik to the men’s room suspicion was raised that he gets prompted about his next moves there. The Bulgarian team took a strong stance and spoke openly about Kramnik’s abuse.
So, Veselin Topalov’s manager Silvio Danailov became the beacon of the pro-western group in FIDE which wanted to take Putin’s people down from the chess throne.
Elections took place in 2010. Putin’s candidate Kirsan ilyumzhinov and the candidate of the West Anatoliy Karpov competed for FIDE’s presidency. And Silvio Danailov ran for President of the European Chess Union against Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s nominee from Turkey Ali Nihat. Moscow tried everything they could to win the battle for the world presidency but they underestimated Silvio. In spite of Ilyumzhinov’s victory against Kasparov, unexpectedly Silvio won against the Turk and became President of the European Chess Union.
Moscow was much better prepared at the next round of elections. In 2014 Gary Kasparov himself ran against Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and Silvio Danailov ran for European President again. There are legends about the financial means and funds Russia invested in their support for Ilyumzhinov and his avatar, but there is no way they can be proved.
After Karpov and Kasparov were destroyed, it transpired that the Bulgarian Silvio Danailov would run as FIDE presidntial candidate of the pro-western opposition in the next elections due to take place in 2018.
From that moment onward the dirty game started where the Bulgarian state makes everything possible to undermine the Bulgarian nomination in order to please Russia. And it faces a real problem because it is hardly possible to nominate Ilyumzhinov yet again – last November the US Treasury Department put his name on the black list of Russian businessmen for oil deals with ISIS.

Exchange of Federations
Silvio Danailov will be a strong candidate for the post only in the case that he is the president of the national chess federation. If he loses this legitimacy his running for FIDE presidency will be problematic.
Anyone can establish a federation in Bulgaria – there are multiple federations in many sports. It depends on the Ministry of Youth and Sport which federation is licensed and deemed legitimate.
Cloning federations and establishing new ones that replace the old one that has become inconvenient is practice that does not start from Krasen Kralev. The saga in weight lifting is indicative of cloning and changing federations that many Bulgarian governments did with the best intentions in order to guarantee Bulgaria’s participation in international tournaments after a series of doping scandals.
Of course, this practice has been used for not so patriotic purposes too. It has happened that a minister replaced a federation because he/she had not been at best terms with the leadership or because he/she had come up with a financial scheme and needed someone loyal to him/her to see it through.
In all that changes the scheme was one and the same, only the puppets were different.

The Convenient Chief of Inspectorate
A little story in parenthesis – you do remember the most recent case of Penka Beleva nicknamed Penka Maserati, don’t you? She was the Chief of the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Health and she was the spear of the ugly attack against the Fund for Treating Children Abroad. The result of her overreacting was that the false allegations crumbled to dust in front of the public. The dreadful abuse and misappropriations in the Fund turned out to be measures to make the life of the children and their mothers easier and the contents of the envelope with the alleged bribe turned out to be a CD with a NMR test results of a patient.
Because of Penka Beleva Minister Peter Moskov and the Ministry of Health became the laughing stock of the nation and the media gladly published her pay check showing that she was making about BGN 10,000 a month, mainly from overtime.
This is the destiny of convenient chiefs of inspectorates – they often perform strictly what they are tasked with but as their tasks are dirty, they serve as scape goats.
The easiest way to exchange federations is with the assistance of the Inspectorate. Upon alert, the Inspectorate can undertake an inspection of the inconvenient federation. It can impose a fine that is withheld from the subsidy. In the meantime, a new federation is established. Left without money, the old federation usually gives up on its own. But if it is too stubborn, its license gets withdrawn and the new one is licensed.
For about a year now the Chief of the Inspectorate of the MYS is a man called Alexander Gospodinov Alexandrov. He was appointed on a temporary contract and initiated several inspections. The fiercest inspections are carried out in the sports where there is an alternative federation already prepared.
7 federations have been imposed fines; the Bulgarian Chess Federation lead by Silvio Danailov got the largest fine – BGN 381,000.

Тhe Secret Competition
On May 11th, the officers of the Ministry of Youth and Sport noticed an announcement on the board that there was an open competition for the position of Chief of the Inspectorate. It was written that the Competition start date was 27 April. 14 days had already passed and there were only six days left till the deadline for submitting applications.
People interested in the announcement tried to find it on the website of the MYS and in the Council of Ministers’ registry where it should also be published. They could not find it. We couldn’t either, which means that if it exists, it must be very well hidden.
Still, three more candidates submitted applications for the competition in addition to Alexandrov. The selected candidate will be announced at 11 am on 8 June, Wednesday. We have a reasonable suspicion who will be selected and we are looking forward to the moment when we can ask whether he had the required rank and years of service.
Of course, we are far from thinking that Alexandrov – a tax officer from Stara Zagora until recently, as well as owner of a successful small business with outstanding debt to the National Revenue Service – can be of any significance to the big geopolitical game.

The Chess Player – Mayor from GERB
As we know, GERB activists are universally developed personalities. Such is the Mayor of Haskovo Dobri Belivanov. While he sat in the Mayors chair in Haskovo, he casually created the alternative Bulgarian Chess Union. 90% of the active chess players distanced themselves from him. On the one hand we have the manager of Veselin Topalov, on the other – a party functionary. Only Grandmaster Kiril Georgiev (the best Bulgarian player before Veselin Topalov) was member of the Union of Belivanov for a short while.
Both the Mayor and the Grandmaster are just the front men. The strong personality in the alternative federation is the former head of the original federation – Stefan Sergiev. He holds a degree in political studies from the former USSR and his statements against the current leadership are usually very well received in the media devoted to Russia.
A series of inspections started against the original federation led by Silvio Danailov, including from the Agency of the State Financial Inspection. Four of them found no misappropriation. Alexander Gospodinov Alexandrov, however, initiated a fifth one and imposed a fine of BGN 381,000 – the budget of the federation for 3 years ahead.
The sanctions are for 2 European Cup tournaments in Albena and Zlatni Piassatsi in 2014. The projected expenditures were endorsed with the signatures of 9 officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sport, including the then Minister. The reason of the failure of these tournaments is different.
In the time when Silvio Danailov was President of ECU the tournaments were on the calendar of FIDE. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, however, did not have a particular affinity to grand tournaments organized by his opponents. This is why he stroke them off the calendar. So the two largest tournaments in our country turned into amateur events that had to become a failure.
The original federation is left without any money. Veselin Topalov along with Grigor Dimitrov is our biggest sport star, still he is denied funding for travel and accommodation during competitions. No money was even requested for his preparation.
In the meantime, blissfully oblivious of the political intricacies a new star of world scale rose on the Bulgarian chess horizon – the 12 year old Nurgyul Selimova from Turgovishte won gold medal in the world chess championship for children and teenagers in November last year. They say she is a prodigy child. She started winning chess competitions at the age of 6. When she returned to Bulgaria nobody from the Ministry of Youth and Sport met her, no one received her, no one acknowledged her.
The Ministry refused financing for her forthcoming tournaments. A fundraising campaign was spontaneously organized by fans on Facebook. The amount raised was modest – BGN 1,000. But the campaign had unexpected results – the Minister of Education Meglena Kouneva transferred BGN 6,000 to Nurgyul’s school. Thanks to that the 12-year-old girl is now playing at the European chess championship for ladies in Romania.
Bulgaria holds a second place in the chess ranking list in the age segment 8-18 years. There is hardly any other sport where not single players but all competing children together come second in the world – after India and before Russia, USA and China.
The money for the preparation of these children has been stopped. Nurgyul’s preparation is paid for by her family – with the proceeds from the small grocery store in the village of Krepcha, Targovishte region. Silvio Danailov is paying from his own pocket for the tournaments in our country where these children can play. He pays the salaries of the staff of the Federation (which has been downsized to half of the numbers originally) with his own money too.
Most likely, he will not be able to cope for a long time. Then he will be exchanged for a convenient mayor-chess player, the chance of a Bulgarian to become the leader of a world federation will be missed and the Bulgarian vote in FIDE will be in favor of the candidate of Moscow – forever and ever!

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