August 11, 2014 / 3:40 PM / 5 years ago

Putin ally who made 'aliens' claim keeps world chess role

Current President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is pictured during the FIDE presidential elections in Tromso August 11, 2014. REUTERS/Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/NTB Scanpix

OSLO (Reuters) - A protegee of Vladimir Putin who claims to have been abducted by aliens was easily re-elected to head the World Chess Federation on Monday, defeating one of the Russian president’s harshest critics.

In a vote disputed even before the first ballot was cast Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a former president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, beat Garry Kasparov, a Russian dissident and former world champion, to extend his 19-year-old leadership of the chess governing body.

Even before the vote at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsoe in Arctic Norway, Kasparov accused Ilyumzhinov of rigging the outcome, echoing accusations from 2010, when Russia’s Anatoly Karpov, another former world champion, lost the election.

“This has been an unfair fight from the very start,” Kasparov said before the vote. “The incumbents have shamelessly used every trick they can, including simply erasing federations” from the voting register.

Ilyumzhinov, 52, who says he was abducted by aliens in 1997 and returned to Earth after a trip around a star, has been championed by Putin over Kasparov, who now lives in self-imposed exile after being arrested several times in Russia for his activism.

Ilyumzhinov took 110 of the votes on Monday, beating Kasparov’s 61 votes.

Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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