August 11, 2014 - 18:28 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Former chess champion Garry Kasparov is to try to take the game's top job from a multi-millionaire who says he was once abducted by aliens, BBC News reports.
The showdown with fellow-Russian Kirsan Ilyumzhinov will take place on the sidelines of the Chess Olympiad in the Norwegian Arctic city of Tromso.
Ilyumzhinov has been head of the World Chess Federation for 19 years. However, his critics accuse him of being a Kremlin puppet with ties to brutal dictators.
Kasparov, 51, is a noted human rights campaigner and an opponent of Russia's President Vladimir Putin. He accuses Ilyumzhinov of being too close to Putin and says his presidency of the World Chess Federation has been marked by "abuse and favoritism".
"Every Russian embassy in the world has been mobilized to support Ilyumzhinov and to keep him in office," Kasparov told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. "It's not about chess. This is a pure political fight."
Ilyumzhinov, 52, claims he was once abducted by aliens who communicated telepathically and took him to another planet in a giant spaceship. His critics say such claims have driven sponsors away from the game. He has also been accused of damaging the reputation of the chess federation by cultivating close ties to dictators including Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, he said: "Chess is beyond politics. [That] is why Kasparov is so dangerous. This is why it's necessary to fight him. This is what the chess world was afraid of: Kasparov started mixing chess with politics."