Russian chess star Sergey Karjakin has reiterated his support for President Vladimir Putin, saying he “could not remain silent” despite being subjected to death threats and potential sanctions from the sports authorities.
Karjakin, who was born in the Crimean city of Simferopol and backed the reintegration of the peninsula into Russia in 2014, penned a public message in support of Putin when the military operation in Donbass and Ukraine got underway last month.
The International Chess Federation (FIDE) condemned the message and said its Ethics and Disciplinary Commission would investigate Karjakin and fellow Russian grandmaster Sergey Shipov.
But Karjakin, 32, does not regret the gesture and has doubled down on his backing for the Russian operation in Donbass and its efforts to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
“In 2014, when I supported the reunification of Crimea, I know for sure that I was not invited to some tournaments in the West because I expressed my position,” Karjakin told Russian TV channel ‘Zvezda’.
“But when the geopolitical situation became more or less normal, they began to invite me again. So I knew what I was getting into here.
“I understand that now this situation is worse, unfortunately, because people are dying. All this is happening. But, again, I couldn’t keep silent. I felt that I should express my position.
“I myself lived in Kramatorsk [in Donetsk] for three years, from the age of nine to 12. I was really worried about all these events in the Donbass and couldn’t remain indifferent.”