Developments in Elista

Note: this is a copy of an email sent to the chess club concerning the
Olympiad in Elista. 
There have been similar articles in recent editions of Chess Monthly, and New in Chess.
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GLASNOST DEFENSE FOUNDATION
4 Zubovsky blvd., Suite 432
Moscow   119021  RUSSIA
Phone: (095) 201.44.20, 201.32.42
Fax: (095) 201.49.47
E-mail: mailto:simonov@fond91.msk.ru
http://www.internews.ras.ru/GDF
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Attention: Heads of National Chess Federations - FIDE members
Leading world chess players - members of National Olympic teams

Ladies and gentlemen!

This is an appeal on behalf of the human rights activists on the
eve of the
1998
World Chess Olympic Games which are to take place in Elista, Republic of
Kalmykia.
We consider it our duty to explain to you where you are invited
to, at whose
expense the festival is being held and what a blunder may turn out your
participation there.
Elista is a capital of the Kalmyk Republic, a small part of Russia with
extremely
poor people and extremely rich president - the very Kirsan
Ilumzhinov who was
chosen by chess bureaucrats as Campomanes's successor.
Chess City where you will stay and play has been constructed on
money obtained
by violations of all conceivable state and human laws. We have reasons to
believe
that the construction project has been carried out on money
withdrawn from
different state credits provided for Kalmykia's industrial and
agricultural
development. Money was given for this construction by the Kalmyk
women and
children who were robbed twice - they allegedly voluntarily rejected their
state
child allowances for this purpose.
You will eat and drink on money received by a +racket; - President
Ilumzhinov's
private fund which is funded by an unlawful tribute by all the
companies being
registered in Kalmykia's offshore zone.  While looking through
Chess City's
windows at the adjacent Amber Pond you should know that several
months ago a
mutilated woman's body was found in this very pond - the body of the only
Kalmyk
opposition newspaper's editor-in-chief. She regularly published materials
revealing the ways in which this unjust money was obtained.
Probably during
the
Chess Olympic Games her murderers will be put on trial. But they are most
likely
only the executors. The court would hardly manage to find out the
person who
had hired the murderers because he has so many protectors among
high ranking
Russian officials.
Your arrival to Elista will be taken by the locals, obedient to the
President's press,
as a highest acknowledgment of the Kalmyk people's merits before
the world
chess brotherhood and even before the mankind - they like pompous
language in
Elista. At every step you can see the portraits of the President
together with
outstanding citizens of the world - starting with the Russian
patriarch up to
the
Pope. The people will be told that your arrival is a great Kalmykia
breakthrough
towards international loans, investments, world wide active business
partnership.
But Kalmykia has nothing for sale even its famous wool
manufacturing has been
almost destroyed by now. Your arrival is simply being used as a vivid
manifestation of the Kalmyk and Chess President's ambitions.
The winners will get prizes. But these prizes are paid by
unlawful extortion
from
the Kalmyk people - every citizen of the Republic is obliged to make a
financial
contribution to the Chess Olympic Games.
Would you like to live, to eat, to win this way?
All these facts on the Kalmyk elite's crimes, on basic human
rights violations
in
Kalmykia are derived from the Russian media publications. But not
only Russian
journalists who reveal these facts: we can refer to the
publications of Inga
Suffron
(Philadelphia Inquirer), John Morrison (Reuters) , Eva Conant
(Fox TV, USA)
and
many others. We have no moral right to request that you refuse to
participate
in
the  Chess Festival. But under present circumstances it's not
obvious what is
worse - to waive the festival or to waive your conscience?
Anyway you have the right to know where you are going to, who
your host will
be
and that tears and poverty are the real cost of this festival.

Sincerely,

Alexei Simonov, Glasnost Defense Foundation
Larisa Bogoraz
Valery Abramkin, Public Center for Criminal Law Reforms
Ludmila Alekseeva, Moscow Helsinki Group
Mara Poljakova, Independent Council of Legal Experts
Elena Grishina, Human Rights Information Center
Mikhail Arutyunov, International Human Rights Assembly
Rustem Maksudov, Center +Judicial and Legal Reform;
Sergei Kovalev, State Duma Deputy
Oleg Panfilov, Glasnost Defense Foundation
Maria Simonova, Glasnost Defense Foundation
Valentin Gefner, +Memorial; Russian Human Rights Center
Alexei Smirnov, Moscow Human Rights Center
Valery Borschov, State Duma Deputy

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