Was Kirsan Ilyumzhinov the go-between from Boris Putin to Saddam Hussein?

The New York Post for Sunday, April 13, 2003, in an article by Grandmaster Andy Soltis, reports that one of the last foreigners to see Uday, the son of Saddam Hussein, in Baghdad was none other than World Chess Federation President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who saw Uday after President Bush gave his 48-hour ultimatum, but before the bombs started dropping.

The revelation that World Chess Federation President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was in Baghdad on the fifteenth of March just at the moment when everybody knew that the USA was on the verge of attacking Iraq re-opens the question of where has Kirsan Ilyumzhinov obtained his money.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov meets with Saddam Hussein
Photo of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov meeting with Saddam Hussein

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is the dictator of Kalmykia, a small Russian Republic on the north shore of the Caspian Sea. In 1995, the chess world was astonished when Kirsan, until then a complete unknown in the world of chess, was elected President of the World Chess Federation. Since then, Kirsan has spent more than $30 million of his own money sponsoring chess events. The most recent example of this was the Man vs. Computer World Chess Championship match in New York in February, where Kirsan awarded one million dollars in prize money to the contestants.

From where has Kirsan obtained this money? The primary product of Kalmykia is sheep herding. Kalmykian peasants are living at the subsistence level.

Why would Kirsan travel in Baghdad in March, knowing as everybody in the world did that the USA was just getting ready to bomb the place? He must have had an important reason to go there and we do not have to think very hard to come up with a plausible answer.

This should not be a total surprise. Kirsan has often said that he is a friend of Saddam Hussein. In 1996, Kirsan announced that the FIDE World Chess Championship match would be played in Baghdad. However, Kirsan backed down in the face of international protests.

Since the fall of Baghdad, American forces have discovered evidence that Saddam Hussein has obtained technology, training and military equipment from Russia. However, Boris Putin denies supplying the same.

Is it possible that Saddam Hussein had another source, and that source was Kirsan Ilyumzhinov? Kalmykia is part of Russia and, as President of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov certainly had access to Russian technology. Therefore, it is certainly possible that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was secretly supplying technology and weapons to Saddam Hussein and that is where Kirsan obtained the millions he was handing out as prizes to chess players.

Sam Sloan

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