MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian head of world chess’s governing body FIDE said on Monday he was the victim of a plot to oust him but denied a report by his own organization that he had resigned.
The statement on the FIDE website said Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, its president since 1995, had announced his resignation on Sunday at the end of a federation board meeting in Greece.
But Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Ilyumzhinov as saying: “They wanted to oust me but it didn’t work. I haven’t signed anything and I’m not resigning. I think there is an American hand in this, and I think it’s called a set-up.”
When asked in an email exchange with Reuters if he could clarify the situation, FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman only repeated the organization’s earlier statement. Regarding Ilyumzhinov’s allegations of a plot, Freeman said he could not comment further.
Ilyumzhinov is a former head of the Russian semi-autonomous republic of Kalmykia. He has said he was abducted by aliens in 1997 and returned to Earth after a trip around a star.
He was re-elected as FIDE president in 2014, defeating former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who is one of the harshest critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In 2015, the U.S. government included Ilyumzhinov on a list of people subject to financial sanctions for providing support to the administration of Russian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war with rebels trying to oust him.
Washington alleged Ilyumzhinov had business ties to people who have worked with Assad’s administration. Ilyumzhinov denied doing anything illegal and said he would challenge the U.S. government’s ruling.
Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Christian Lowe/Mark Heinrich