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Russia Chess Federation to join Asia

Russia Chess Federation to join Asia
Wednesday, 22 February, 2023, 22:54

The World Chess Federation today announced it has no objection to the Russian Chess Federation leaving the European Chess Union and joining the Asian Chess Federation (ACF). All that remains is for the ACF to rubberstamp that switch at its General Assembly on February 28. FIDE will allow Russian players to switch to a European chess federation with no transfer fee or delay in being able to represent their new country.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian and Belarusian Chess Federations were banned from holding official FIDE events and their teams excluded from team events. FIDE didn’t follow the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation and ban individual players, however, instead simply requiring that when they play no Russian flag is displayed.

The European Chess Union (ECU) went further. While Russian players could compete in FIDE events while still registered officially as Russian Chess Federation players, the ECU insisted that players take advantage of FIDE’s offer to make a free and quick switch to the neutral FIDE flag. (A restriction was later added to limit players abusing the system to switch only for the duration of an event.)

The ECU also described the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) as “politically exposed, but also exposed to the consequences of war”, noting that the RCF’s Board of Trustees includes the Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu and Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. They also note that the RCF has incorporated Crimea, which is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

The RCF voted in April 2022 to apply for membership of the Asian Chess Federation, which was made possible by the fact that 77% of Russia is in Asia, though it’s also worth noting that 75% of the population lives in what is considered European Russia.

Since then, FIDE, whose President Arkady Dvorkovich is also on the Board of Trustees of the RCF, had remained silent.

In a statement on January 30 this year the ECU wrote, “we will assume that the Russian Chess Federation also has the green light from FIDE”, and called on the RCF to withdraw from the ECU by this Friday, February 24. That’s the last working day before the ACF General Assembly in Abu Dhabi, but was surely chosen symbolically as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.