Saturday, April 14, 2007

Garry Kasparov's Next Move

I am an old chess master, so when the former World Chess Champion makes the news, I pay attention. I just recently received my first FIDE rating, and although it wasn't as high as I expected (or hoped), it probably wasn't too bad (I didn't quite achieve a master rating).

Chess is like the national sport of Russia. Chess champions there are revered like football or basketball stars are here in the U.S. So when former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov took up the challenge to run for the Russian Presidency, you can bet that it is a real threat to Putin's reign.

Kasparov has taken up the cause of the loyal opposition to Putin and formed a new political party called the United Civil Front. And from what I remember reading, his political views are center-right. You can see a discussion of Russian politics with Charlie Rose and Garry Kasparov here. ***Update*** Let me correct that last statement. After watching the Charlie Rose interview linked above, Kasparov is critical enough of Bush and his reference to the poverty conditions of 85% of the population that I think he may be center-left instead of center-right.

This isn't the first run-in he has had with authorities as reported by ChessBase.

Kasparov Freed After Anti-Putin Rally
By DOUGLAS BIRCH (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
April 14, 2007 2:55 PM EDT
MOSCOW Apr 14, 2007 (AP)— Hundreds of demonstrators defied authorities Saturday by trying to stage an anti-government rally banned from a landmark downtown square, setting off sporadic clashes with police across Moscow and bringing a wave of arrests.

A coalition of opposition groups organized the "Dissenters March" to protest the economic and social policies of President Vladimir Putin as well as a series of Kremlin actions that critics say has stripped Russians of many political rights.

Thousands of police officers massed to keep the demonstrators off Pushkin Square, beating some protesters and detaining many others, including Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who has emerged as the most prominent leader of the opposition alliance.

Police said 170 people had been detained but a Kasparov aide, Marina Litvinovich, said as many as 600 people were detained although she said about half were released quickly. Kasparov, whom witnesses said was seized as he tried to lead a small group of demonstrators through lines of police ringing Pushkin Square, was freed late Saturday after he was fined $38 for participating in the rally.

"It is no longer a country … where the government tries to pretend it is playing by the letter and spirit of the law," Kasparov said outside the court building, appearing unfazed by his detention.

"We now stand somewhere between Belarus and Zimbabwe," two dictatorships that have cracked down on opposition, he said.

It was the fourth time in recent months that anti-Putin demonstrations all called Dissenters Marches have been broken up with force or smothered by a huge police presence. Earlier protests were thwarted in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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