Garry Kasparov tells Christopher Bateman about his stratagem to take over in the Kremlin.
R: Russian DemocracyGarry Kasparov is a veritable superstar in America. The line to get into the chess whiz's recent book signing in New York was so long it snaked around the corner, and the crowd was excited. Upon Kasparov's arrival, one gleeful admirer yelled, "It's Garry Kasparov!" and reached out to touch the former chess grand master, before promptly being escorted away by security. But the point of the security isn't to ward off aggressive chess groupies: These days the life expectancy of dissidents in Russia is not exactly encouraging, and Kasparov-the presidential candidate of the Other Russia party-is one of the most public and vocal critics of Vladimir Putin's rule. Kasparov's run hasn't been easy so far. Though he receives warm receptions in the West, he is almost wholly banned from television and other mass media in Russia. He and his team have been arrested for staging protests, turned away from hotels, and harassed by crypto-fascist youth groups.While he was promoting his new book How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves-from the Board to the Boardroom, we spoke with him about the state of Russia as it looks forward to its March presidential election, a contest Kasparov concedes he has no realistic chance of winning. For now, he says, his goal is not to win elections, but to have them.GOOD: So you're running for office. Do you have a slogan?GARRY KASPAROV: We have three. One is "Russia without Putin," which is more important than just without Putin-Putin is a symbol. Two is "No to the unfair elections," and three is "No to monopoly in power." Of course, we have other ideas about political reform: we want to reduce presidential powers and enhance parliament with new functions, we want the government to be responsible for the parliament, and, most important, we want the entire political system to depend on elections, not on appointments.Other Russia includes nationalists and communists among its ranks. Are there any groups you would not ally yourself with?We're not making alliance with fascists, skinheads, or other groups promoting racial or social hatred. We are not different from many countries where people fought dictatorships. It's about your priority. Our priority is to build democracy, to eliminate restrictions on the political …debate. As long as these groups are fully supporting the notion of building liberal democracy, I feel absolutely comfortable dealing with them.Your critics in Russia also often link you to the United States, calling you pro-American, claiming-falsely, you have said-that you have an American passport.I do not have an American passport.I know. I know you've denied it.There's no denying. It's amazing. I never had one.I believe you.I never had any other passport. I had Soviet and then later, Russian.But these claims still carry some weight over there. They don't stand with the majority of Russians, because I'm still for them, the Soviet champion. I've been playing for my country for 25 years. When I see these Kremlin stooges who never did anything for the country now trying to accuse me of being pro-American-why don't they give me a chance to speak out?But you believe part of the solution lies with the West?I think Russia is much closer to the West than this regime pretends. In fact, they are integrated in the Western economy. I move anywhere where people are ready to listen. Look at the list of my interviews in America. … I do not have my political preference in America. When I look at the candidates, I always want to hear what they say about Russia. If you read my articles about Bush, you'll find quite a harsh criticism of the actions of this administration.
|Obviously, the latest presidency of the United States created a lot of problems, because Russians no longer see America as the moral leader.|