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Karjakin versus the West: The political persecution of chess players by chess players

Karjakin versus the West: The political persecution of chess players by chess players

A few days ago, on 21 Mar 2022, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) got Karjakin banned for 6 months. This will force him to miss the Candidates Tournament after he already classified. I already explained how FIDE violated its own regulation by suspending the Russian and Belarus Federations.

Karjakin and his compatriot Sergei Shipov were accused of violating article 2.2.10 of the FIDE Code of Ethics. The Chamber explained its decision to not sanction Sergei Shipov with the following argument: “In comparison with Sergey Karjakin, Sergei Shipov is considerably less known and has, therefore, a less powerful platform.”[1] Shipov got off the hook for being less famous than Karjakin. But how fair was this decision, based on FIDE regulation?


  • Karjakin banned: Article 2.2.10 of the FIDE Code of Ethics.
  • Karjakin was singled out for his controversial opinions.
  • Karjakin’s claims were taken as lies at face value.
  • FIDE reinterpreted the rules so they could sanction Karjakin.
  • The actual reason why FIDE got Karjakin banned and censured.
  • Appendix: Karjakin’s letter to Putin.
  • References:


Karjakin banned: Article 2.2.10 of the FIDE Code of Ethics

The article by which FIDE got Karjakin banned is meant to protect the reputation of chess and FIDE:

2.2.10 “(…) Disciplinary action in accordance with this Code of Ethics will be taken in cases of occurrences which cause the game of chess, FIDE or its federations to appear in an unjustifiable unfavorable light and in this way damage its reputation.”[2]

The ethics commission accused him of making statements such as the next:

  • Ukraine is putting the security of all Europe at risk.
  • Calling for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.
  • Claiming that the Ukrainian authorities have protected the culprits of the Tragedy in Odessa.

Controversial political statements. However, as I explained before, Article 4 of FIDE Charter specifies very clearly that no person can be discriminated on the basis of their political opinion:

4.4 “FIDE rejects any kind of discrimination against a country, private person or group of people on account of (…) political opinions, or any other reason.”

The fact is that Karjakin never mentioned FIDE or the game of chess in his statements. FIDE Council incorrectly assumed that his public identity of a chess player was enough to sanction him on these grounds. The problem is that this interpretation allows FIDE to sanction any chess player based on their contrarian political opinions, which goes directly against FIDE Charter.


The Code of Ethcis is only applicable to competitors and not to personal lives

No chess player is subject to discipline based on the Code of Ethics outside of the domain of FIDE competitions, as we can see below:

1.4 This Code of Ethics is applicable to:

  • FIDE office bearers,
  • member federations, delegates and counselors,
  • affiliated organizations
  • organizers, sponsors
  • all competitors in FIDE registered tournaments.

Therefore, neither Karjakin nor Shipov could be sanction by the Ethics and Disciplinary Comission.


Karjakin was singled out for his controversial opinions

The ‘chess intelligentsia’ called Karjakin “outrageous”. He expressed controversial and inflammatory political opinions, they said. But so did many others chess players before him. For example, Kasparov has publicly supported illegal wars during his career. He wrote of the necessity of war and international aggression as far as far back as 2008, in his book “How Life Imitates Chess”, and has made constant public statements in favor of war since then. He was never sanctioned by FIDE for this reason. In fact, he even ran for FIDE President in 2014.[3] Unlike Kasparov, Karjakin did not call for war. On the contrary, he expressed his desire for it to end as soon as possible and with the least possible harm, in his public letter to Putin (see Karjakin’s letter below).

And who can be more controversial and inflammatory than current FIDE Vice-President, Nigel Short, whose comments on sex differences in chess playing skill caused a huge uproar in both the chess and the mainstream media.[4] Would it be fair to accuse Nigel of harming the reputation of the game of chess? Probably yes. But first of all, FIDE Charter protects the freedom of speech of chess players, as does article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights. Secondly, there is a crucial point that the ethics commission seems to have missed: the rule by which Karjakin was sanctioned clearly specifies that defamation towards chess or FIDE must be “unjustified”.


Karjakin’s claims were taken as lies at face value

Unlike Short, Karjakin did try to provide some sort of evidence for his claims. It wasn’t despite of this but because of it that the Ethics Commission condemned Karjakin. They considered his claims unacceptably brazen, regardless of their veracity. Not that veracity matters in this case, since Karjakin did not target FIDE or the game of chess, as I mentioned before. But even if the Ethics Commission disregarded FIDE Charter, they should have made sure that Karjakin’s claims were “unjustified”, as the FIDE Code of Ethics requires. They did not do this, and punished Karjakin just for making unusual claims.

We don’t think it is outrageous that more than half of the American population supported a crime of International Aggression, based on a lie about weapons of mass destruction. We don’t think it’s outrageous that most Israelis support the illegal military actions of their government.[5] It helps when the media constantly portrays the enemy as an evil dictator and a terrorist. Our media can do this, but when Karjakin does the same thing, based on the lies of his own country, he is punished for it. His claims do not resonate with us because they haven’t been constantly banged on our head by the media, like our own self-serving lies.


FIDE reinterpreted the rules so they could get Karjakin banned

Karjakin broke the unwritten rules. FIDE did not find anything in the actual rules to slap him down, so they resorted to the age-old trick of reinterpretation. This is disgraceful; it is a persecution based on political opinions. Karjakin just supported his country like most people do in most cases, even when they are in the wrong. FIDE got Karjakin banned for being subject to a different propaganda system.

FIDE pulled this reputation card out of the hat, and they singled out Karjakin, making it transparent that their moves are politicized. It is likely that they will invite Kasparov, one of the most warmongering political analysts in the international scene, for chess commentary at some FIDE event. Why? Because FIDE is a hub for Western propaganda. No one will ever be sanctioned for supporting a war, so long as they support the Western side.

I don’t want to be quoted as claiming that Karjakin is right in what he said. There is no doubt that the invasion of Ukraine is a crime by international law. It is as much as crime as the US invasion of Iraq or Israeli occupation of Palestine, among many others. But FIDE did not act on any of these crimes. On the contrary, they threatened the Iranian Chess Federation with suspension for trying to boycott Israeli crimes; an amazing double-standard. In addition, it is obvious that the claims made by Karjakin do not justify a war, nor are they the reason for the invasion of Ukraine.


The actual reason why FIDE got Karjakin banned and censured

The problem is that we, Western Nations, and our puppet institutions like FIDE make sure that our governments have free hand to expand their influence by committing crimes all across the globe. When a Western power attacks a country, the debate revolves around utilitarian concerns, the pros and cons of the intervention… News outlets will flood people’s heads with details on the crimes of the enemy leader. This is not difficult to do, since most leaders in the World are corrupt. And then a fearmongering campaign will usually tilt the balance toward support for the war from the majority. This is the usual recipe in the West. However, when an enemy country goes to war, there is no such discussion: war is wrong, period. We will not allow any argument or any evidence.

And this is why FIDE got Karjakin banned in violation of own regulation. If he had said, “Iraq may use weapons of mass destruction”; “Libyan forces fired at peaceful protestors”; “it is necessary to get rid of terrorism in the Middle East”; or “bombing Pakistan was a strategical necessity”… these claims would have been acceptable. They would have incited intrigue and the typical polarized divide and lively debate. But he supported the actions of the wrong kind of leader, his own. This is unacceptable: it is dissonant with the propaganda that we all know and love. It follows by logic that Karjakin must be punished. After all, FIDE must fulfill its duty of keeping Western propaganda as pure and unadulterated as it has always been.


Appendix: Karjakin’s letter to Putin

The translation from chess24 of Karjakin’s letter to Putin reads:

“I appeal to you at this difficult time, when our country, led by you, is fighting for the safety of the peaceful Russian population of Donbass and the Lugansk People’s Republic.

It is fighting for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, with its ruling regime, which has put the security of all of Europe and our country at risk, for the sake of its political goals and ambitions.

I am closely following the ongoing special operation, in the lands where I spent my childhood, where I learned to play chess and where my relatives still live.”[6]



  5. In the wake of the Security Council’s condemnatory resolution, in your opinion should or should not Israel cease the construction in the territories? 55.1% No; 36.1% Yes; 8.8 Don’t know.


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