Karjakin banned for six months over pro-Russia comments

Sergey Karjakin of Russia smiles after being cheered by fans after losing at the 2016 World Chess Championship match in New York
FILE PHOTO: Sergey Karjakin of Russia smiles after being cheered by fans at an award ceremony after losing to Magnus Carlsen of Norway (not shown) at the 2016 World Chess Championship match in New York, U.S., November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

March 21, 2022

(Reuters) – Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin has been banned from competition for six months because of his support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) said on Monday.

The 32-year-old Karjakin, who challenged Magnus Carlsen for the world title in 2016, has defended his country’s actions on social media in recent weeks, drawing intense criticism from the chess world.

“Sergey Karjakin is found guilty of breach of article 2.2.10 of the FIDE Code of Ethics, and is sanctioned to a worldwide ban of six months from participating as a player in any FIDE rated chess competition, taking effect from the date of this decision, 21 March 2022,” the governing body said in a statement https://www.fide.com/news/1650.

“The statements by Sergey Karjakin on the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine have led to a considerable number of reactions on social media and elsewhere, to a large extent negative towards the opinions expressed.”

Karjakin, who was born in Crimea and represented Ukraine until 2009, said: “An expected, but no less shameful decision by FIDE. All sports selections have been trampled, the basic principle that sport is out of politics has been trampled.”

The ban puts Karjakin’s participation in the Candidates Tournament, which starts on June 16, in doubt. He can appeal against the decision within 21 days.

“I made the hardest selection through the World Cup in the Candidates Tournament. Winning that would have put me in a match for the world championship. Alas, FIDE embarrassed themselves, not me,” Karjakin added on Telegram.

“And most importantly, first of all I am a patriot of my country and only second of all I am an athlete. If I thought back to the situation when I supported the president of Russia, the people and the army I would have done the same thing! I don’t regret anything.”

Another Russian grandmaster, Sergei Shipov, was not sanctioned for his pro-Russia comments because the FIDE ruled that they were of a “slightly different and less provocative character than the ones made by Karjakin”.

The FIDE earlier stripped hosts Moscow of the Chess Olympiad and FIDE Congress later this year and banned Russian and Belarusian players from competing in tournaments under their respective flags.

Belarus has been a key staging area for Russian troops.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)