FIDE started its activities after the Second World War and organized the most corrupt world chess championship of all time, “The Hague-Moscow 1948”, in which the Soviet chess player Botvinnik became the world champion. Botvinnik was abnormally resultative against Keres, the representative of Estonia, occupied by the Soviet Union.
By now, however, FIDE has gone beyond what is reasonable.
On March 2, 2022, the FIDE Council issued a statement on the war in Ukraine:
- FIDE states that Russian and Belarusian flags may not be used in FIDE competitions.
- FIDE terminates all sponsorship agreements with the state of Russia or Belarus or with state-controlled companies.
- FIDE will discuss the issue of “supporting unjustified military action” statements by grandmaster Sergei Karjakin in the FIDE Ethics Committee. — This committee has just decided that Karjakin will not be able to play in the FIDE competitions for 6 months, so he will not be able to play in the World Championship candidates tournament where he was eligible to play.
- FIDE does not organize any chess competitions or events in Russia and Belarus. (This place in the FIDE statement is particularly absurd because it refers to the safety of chess players, but instead, the war is going on in Ukraine, and there are serious security problems in Ukraine at the moment.)
The problem is the justifications provided by FIDE.
We can first read about human rights in the text of the FIDE statement.
— On what basis does the chess federation FIDE decide that Russia and Belarus have violated human rights in the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
Starting a war is not a violation of human rights. However, concerning human rights violations during the war, on what basis does the chess organization decide that the Russians and not the Ukrainians are violating human rights in this war? On what basis do chess organizers decide that war crimes in this war are committed by one party and not the other?
Next, on what basis does the chess organization FIDE assume that human rights were not violated in Ukraine before the war? Who gave the chess judges the mandate to decide that the Ukrainians did not commit war crimes and genocide in Donbas — as Russia claims they did?
The FIDE statement then states that FIDE is against wars and condemns the use of military force to resolve political conflicts:
“FIDE stands united against wars as well as condemns any use of military means to resolve political conflicts.”
— If FIDE does condemn the use of military force to resolve political conflicts, FIDE should also have condemned Ukraine’s violations of the Minsk peace in Donbas. According to reports from the OSCE Mission to Ukraine, the situation on the dividing line with the Donbas separatists worsened in early 2022, with minesweepers fired as many as a thousand times a day, with most hits in the separatist areas.
If FIDE is indeed against the wars, why has FIDE not made similar statements against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example? The war in Iraq has been going on for 19 years. The United States has still not completely stopped occupying Iraq. Millions of people have been killed in that war, while the war in Ukraine has only lasted a month, and the death toll is apparently below 100,000.
Regarding Karjakini’s question, FIDE also uses the argument of unjustified military action:
“FIDE Council condemns any public statement from any member of the chess community which supports unjustified military action…”
— On what basis do the chess judges decide which war is justified and which is not?
I, too, believe that Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine is not morally or legally justified.
For example, suppose Russia’s accusation that Ukraine carried out genocide in Donbas is justified. However, it seems complicated to justify the decision to attack Kyiv, which is far from Donbas, to defend the civilian population of Donbas. At first glance, it would seem more natural for Russia to deploy its troops only to the separatist regions of Donbas for this purpose.
The paragraph above is just a fraction of the possible debate on whether or not Russia’s war in Ukraine is justified. This fragment alone shows that the issue is complex. Different parties here have different understandings of the facts and cause-and-effect relationships. New facts may emerge that we do not yet know. It is also necessary to be familiar with the Geneva Convention and other articles of international law to take part in the debate. Finally, Russia has more excuses, such as the need to defend itself against NATO invasion. Whatever the right verdict, it is evident that chess judges cannot competently make this decision!
However, what is certain now is that Russia has at least mitigating circumstances — while the United States did not even have any mitigating circumstances when it invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.
So we know now that there were no chemical weapons in Iraq, and the talk of these weapons of mass destruction was a fiction to justify a war. We also realize that Iraq posed no military threat to the US motherland, America, because America is on the other side of the globe, and Iraq did not have intercontinental missiles or nuclear bombs.
FIDE’s condemnation of “supporting an unjustified war” may well prove to be a ban on proving that the war is in fact justified; in such a variant, it would simply prove to be a dogma that war is unjustified, a dogma that must not be doubted.
However, if FIDE were indeed against unjustified wars and support for such wars, FIDE should have condemned the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately, after a long search on the FIDE website, I would say that FIDE has never even discussed these topics.
When the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq broke out, most people in Europe and the United States supported these wars, either openly or tacitly. It was only thanks to the work of Julian Assange and Wikileaks that Western audiences learned that the West had committed war crimes in these wars. However, FIDE has not responded in any way to the fact that some chess players have publicly agreed to these wars.
In conclusion, I find the FIDE statement and decisions extremely hypocritical. Although FIDE makes anti-war declarations, it only defends Ukraine and attacks only Russia. The wars launched by the United States have not been criticized or responded to by FIDE.
Therefore, I simply do not believe that the real purpose of FIDE is to prevent wars, condemn them, protect human rights, prevent war propaganda, prevent war crimes, and so on.
In fact, the FIDE decision is an example of the politicization of sport and, moreover, of the biased politicization of sport. FIDE has chosen a side in the war and turned itself into a weapon in the hands of one side against the other.
As a result, I no longer participate in FIDE tournaments, and I no longer recognize an organization like FIDE.
I am also considering interrupting my correspondence chess tournaments in the ICCF, which is officially under FIDE. However, the ICCF has not yet taken such abrupt decisions as FIDE.