Ukraine 2022

A mural featuring the colours of the Ukraine flag and its capital Kyiv has appeared on a street in Cardiff.

The artwork features Ukraine’s flag and shows Kyiv under siege reflected in a person’s crying eye.

The mural on Northcote Lane in Cathays was painted by artist My Dog Sighs on February 28.

In an Instagram post showing the mural, My Dog Sighs said: “We’ve all sat and watched this hideous situation unfurl, and while it’s not much, I wanted to do what I know best (throwing paint) to highlight my sadness and anger over the Ukrainian invasion by Russia.

“I used two images to create the silhouette, the first, the beautiful place in the centre of Kyiv and the second a powerful photo that came up on my Twitter feed this morning of last night’s [February 27] attack.

“The tear speaks for itself. A horrid, horrid situation.”

Play chess, not war

I could not agree more… And the same goes for the World’s leading Russian Chess Masters in an open letter to Vladimir Putin:

We oppose military actions on the territory of Ukraine and call for an early ceasefire and a peaceful solution to the conflict through dialogue and diplomatic negotiations. It is unbearably painful for us to see the catastrophe that is happening these days to our peoples.
We have always played for Russia in individual and, with particular pride, in team competitions. We believe that chess, like sports in general, should bring people together. The most difficult and prestigious international tournaments were held in our country at the highest level even in the midst of a pandemic. Chess teaches responsibility for one’s actions; every step counts, and a mistake can lead to a fatal point of no return. And if this has always been about sports, now people’s lives, basic rights and freedoms, human dignity, the present and future of our countries are at stake.In these tragic days, we think of all the people who found themselves in the center of this terrible conflict. We share the pain with our Ukrainian colleagues and call for peace. The Ukrainian chess team is the reigning European champion, one of the best teams in the world along with ours. We played dozens of matches and hundreds of games.
We have always put wrestling above politics – and the Ukrainians responded to us in return. We ask you to give teams, players and ordinary people from both countries a chance for mutual respect.
We are for peace. Stop the war!

List of signees:

  • GM Ian Nepomniachtchi
  • GM Alexandra Kosteniuk
  • GM Daniil Dubov
  • GM Peter Svidler
  • GM Andrey Esipenko
  • GM Maxim Matlakov
  • GM Kirill Alekseenko
  • GM Alexander Motylev
  • GM Mikhail Kobalia
  • GM Evgeny Najer
  • GM Pavel Tregubov
  • GM Anton Demchenko
  • GM Alexander Khalifman
  • GM Valentina Gunina
  • IM Polina Shuvalova
  • IM Alina Kashlinskaya
  • GM Igor Lysyj
  • GM Dmitry Kryakvin
  • GM Vladimir Barski
  • Mark Glukhovsky
  • IM Maksim Notkin
  • GM Maksim Chigaev
  • FM Anastasia Chigaeva
  • GM Olga Badelko
  • GM Pavel Ponkratov
  • GM Alexandr Shimanov
  • GM Igor Berdichvsky
  • GM Ivan Rozum
  • GM Ildar Khairullin
  • GM Artur Gabrielian
  • GM Nikita Petrov
  • GM Evgeny Gleizerov
  • FM Artem Odegov
  • IM Konstantin Mesropov
  • WIM Svetlana Ershova
  • IM Evgeny Egorov
  • GM Daniil Yuffa
  • Anna Volkova
  • WFM Eteri Kublashvili
  • Yana Sidorchuk
  • WGM Anna Burtasova
  • Denis Grigoriev
  • CM Ilya Gorodetskiy
  • Oleg Pervakov

Where’s Karjakin?

On Friday, the Grand Chess Tour organizers published a statement about Karjakin, saying that the former world championship challenger and current world number-18 is “banned from all upcoming and future GCT events due to his recent hostile comments on social media supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” Below is the full statement:

Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) supports the human rights of the Ukrainian citizens. The GCT Executive Director, Michael Khodarkovsky in consultation with the GCT Board has determined that Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin is banned from all upcoming and future GCT events due to his recent hostile comments on social media supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Per the FIDE law that “no player shall bring the game of chess into disrepute,” we believe Grandmaster Karjakin’s actions are such that we can no longer associate our organization with him. It is our firm decision not to invite him or any other chess players that support the on-going war in Ukraine to participate in upcoming and future Grand Chess Tour events.
Together, we stand in support of Ukraine.

Earlier this week, the organizers of two other top tournaments, Norway Chess (won by Karjakin in 2013 and 2014) and the London Chess Classic, revealed that they will also be banning Karjakin.
Norway’s Kjell Madland: “We cannot be associated with people who show support for cruelty like that. That makes it completely unlikely that we will want to invite him to Norway Chess in the future.” 
London’s tournament director IM Malcolm Pein said that he estimated the chance to invite Karjakin as “somewhere between zero and minus one.”

Karjakin himself hasn’t changed his tone so far and continues to support his government strongly with several tweets each day. He responded quickly to the ban from top tournaments, saying that he is hardly affected by it.

The toughest blow might be looming for Karjakin, who is also in serious risk of getting removed from this year’s Candidates Tournament, for which he qualified as the runner-up of the 2021 World Cup. Both Karjakin and GM Sergey Shipov are currently under investigation by the FIDE Ethics Commission for their pro-Putin messages on social media. The strongest possible penalty would be a ban of up to 15 years on taking part in chess events in any way. 

Update 21-03-2022 : The FIDE Ethics and Disciplinary Commission (EDC) has banned GM Sergey Karjakin for six months from participating as a player in any FIDE rated chess competition. The 32-year-old Russian grandmaster, who is a fierce supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin, was punished for his recent statements on social media and will be missing out on this year’s FIDE Candidates Tournament.

Karjakin missing out on the FIDE Candidates Tournament (June 16-July 7, 2022 in Madrid, Spain) is an unexpected but distant chance for world number three GM Ding Liren, who could not play in the FIDE Grand Prix due to visa issues and therefore couldn’t qualify for the Candidates. The regulations state the following:

2.3 If any replacement is needed, the highest-rated player in the FIDE May 2022 standard rating list shall be invited, provided he/she has at least 30 standard games rated in the FIDE rating lists from June 2021 to May 2022.

However, the problem for Ding is that he has only played four rated games in this period and so he would need to play 26 more games before May. 

Update 23-03-2022 : The ruling appears to have sparked anger at the highest level of politics in Russia – particularly as FIDE has been led by Russians since 1995. Yesterday, the President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov said the RCF would launch an appeal against the verdict.
Filatov also aimed an apparent broadside at FIDE’s Russian President, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Arkady Dvorkovich. Filatov said Dvorkovich needed to “take the matter under personal control.”

The FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich

Russia’s warfare in Ukraine has left Arkady Dvorkovich, a former Russian deputy prime minister, in a precarious situation. Now 24 days into the war, some are calling for the FIDE president to resign while others continue to support him. Dvorkovich has refrained from comment so far.

FIDE Council decisions

The FIDE Council, a strategic and oversight body with law-making and executive functions inside the International Chess Federation, has held two online meetings since the start of the war.
The first, relatively brief meeting happened on February 25, a day after Russia invaded Ukraine, when it was decided that the FIDE Olympiad won’t take place in Russia this summer. It was already clear that many countries would otherwise be boycotting the event.
In the second meeting on March 15, the Olympiad was granted to Chennai, India.
(Meanwhile, the World Team Championship, scheduled for April in Israel, has been postponed until November.)

The way FIDE communicated the decision to move the Olympiad from Russia received criticism.
Saying that the organization expressed its grave concern regarding “the current rapidly deteriorating geopolitical situation,” without calling it an invasion or a war and without condemning Russia for its military action, could imply Russian influence on FIDE, led by a former Russian politician.

On February 27, however, FIDE did officially condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and took a number of measures against Russia and Belarus, including a ban on hosting official events and displaying their flags at FIDE-rated events. Two weeks later, the national teams of Russia and Belarus were banned from participation in official FIDE tournaments.

In doing so, the International Chess Federation followed recommendations from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but not completely. 
In an official statement, FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky called the decision “balanced and fair.” A few days later, in an online panel discussion organized by the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), Sutovsky elaborated, arguing that most of the Russian top players are against war, as became clear from their open letter and that banning them from competition would be unfair.

Sutovsky pointed out that this policy is similar to that in tennis.
A statement released jointly by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), and the four Grand Slam tournaments, stipulates that Russian and Belarusian players can still compete in their events, but not under their flags. The ITF did suspend the Russian and Belarusian teams from all international team competitions.

The Open Letter of Ukranian Chess Players

To National Chess Federations – members of European Chess Union:

In blatant violation of international law, the Russian Federation began a full-fledged military aggression against Ukraine on February 24, 2022. This unprovoked war is being targeted against the entire Ukraine and its citizens. The aggression is supported by the Republic of Belarus and keeps on causing thousands of casualties among civilians.

In many cities of Ukraine there are no provisions and conditions for survival due to complete devastation. As of March 9, 2022, the official number of refugees from Ukraine exceeds 2 million people and this number continues to grow. This is the biggest humanitarian catastrophe in Europe since World War II.

The measures prohibiting athletes from the aggressor countries to participate in official competitions have been applied by other sports federations, including the International Olympic Committee. The sanctions have been applied not only to the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, but also to their athletes.

In view of the stated facts, we, Ukrainian chess players, openly support the letter from the President of the Chess Federation of Ukraine, dated March 2, 2022 and urge the National Chess Federations, members of the European Chess Union (“ECU”) to apply the following measures:

1. Prohibit Russian and Belarusian chess players from participating in any tournaments held by the ECU under any flag or without it.
2. Prohibit all Russian and Belarusian coaches, arbiters, officials from participating in any competitions held under the auspices of the ECU and immediately dismiss the citizens of these countries from any positions in the ECU Board and Commissions.
3. Initiate the immediate convocation of the FIDE General Assembly demanding the immediate resignation of FIDE President Dvorkovich, as a person who, being Putin’s close aide, is personally responsible for the formation of Russia’s aggressive foreign policy.

We call on chess federations around the world to support these demands, and the ECU to adopt them at the next meeting. Sincerely, Ukrainian chess players:

(GM)Vasily Ivanchuk, (GM) Ruslan Ponomariov, (GM)Andrey Volokitin, (GM) Anton Korobov, (GM) Kirill Shevchenko, (GM) Volodymyr Onyshchuk, (GM)Yuriy Kuzubov, (GM)Yuriy Kryvoruchko, (GM) Martyn Kravtsiv, (GM) Alexandr Moiseenko, (GM) Zahar Efimenko, (GM)Volodymyr Baklan, (GM) Bernadskiy Vitaliy, (GM) Andriy Vovk, (GM) Yuri Vovk, (GM) Oleksandr Sulypa, (GM) Nazar Firman, (IM) Sergiy Pavlov, (IM) Natalia Zhukova, (GM) Mykhaylo Oleksiyenko, (GM) Volodymyr Vetoshko, (GM) Oleksandr Kovchan, (IM) Volodymyr Grabinsky, (GM) Andrey Baryshpolets, (WIM) Irina Andrenko, (GM) Vadim Malakhatko, (GM) Yaroslav Zherebukh, (GM) Alexander Areshchenko, (GM) Pavlo Vorontsov, (GM) Evgeny Shtembuliak, (GM) Mikhail Golubev, (IM) Oleksii Molchanov, (WGM) Anastasiia Vovk and many others.

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