Kasparov beaten up… again!

Kasparov being roughed up by Russian Police.

Former World Champion Garry Kasparov was manhandled by Russian police officers during a protest of the Pussy Riot trial. Kasparov was not officially taking part in the protest, but his fame preceded him in more ways that one. He has become notorious as a staunch opponent of Vladimir Putin whom he has claimed is rolling the country back to the old Soviet days.

This trial stemmed from an incident staged by Pussy Riot who were protesting against Putin’s policies in a famous Moscow cathedral. Since their arrest, the trial has been sort of a rally cry for pro-democracy advocates. Kasparov weighed in on the situation and was intent on attending the trial, but was rebuffed. He spoke calmly with reporters about the suppression of civil liberties. Police saw the interview taking place and accosted Kasparov, picking him up and forcing him into a holding bus. In another video, Kasparov then tried to leap over the officers off the bus, but he was caught, subdued forcefully and crammed back onto the bus. Russian authorities have claimed that Kasparov bit the finger of one of the officers and faces five years for this violation.

Videos of Kasparov’s Beating

Starting at 0:50, Kasparov’s interview was interrupted by a police unit and he was hustled away into a waiting police bus. A massive struggle ensued as Kasparov kept asking why he was being arrested. He fell, but was crammed on the bus.

At 1:40-2:05 of this video, Kasparov leaped from the bus, was caught and subdued again. At some point, he was wrestled to the ground and restrained as one officer was braced on top of him with Kasparov screaming in agony. Update: Video has removed spitting on protestor and a hard slap after authorities snatched flag.

This act by the Russian police may provide more credibility to Kasparov’s political claims. Meanwhile, he has been released and received treatment at a local hospital. Kasparov was accosted once before during a campaign to unseat Putin back in 2005 as someone wacked him across the head with a wooden chess board. Unfortunately, chess players continue to be mistreated for various reasons. Bobby Fischer’s condemnation by Japanese authorities led to abuse and imprisonment for several months.

A young man whacks Kasparov over the head with a wooden chess board after saying,  'I loved you as a chess player, but you are wrong in your politics.'

Back in 2005, a young man whacks Kasparov over the head with a wooden chess board after saying, ‘I loved you as a chess player, but you are wrong in your politics.’

A shocked Kasparov watches as the assailants is hustled away.

A shocked Kasparov watches as the assailants is hustled away.

The beating of Georgian Grandmaster Zurab Azmaiparashvili by Spanish police is a not too distant memory from the 2004 Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain. In that case, Spanish authorities claimed that the Azmai headbutted an officer. The crowd looked on at the closing ceremonies in shock and Spanish policed dragged him from the hall amidst horrible shrieks from his wife.

Fischer being detained by Japanese authorities in 2004. He claimed that he was abused in the Japanese prison.

What does this say about the lack of respect for chess professionals? It says that while chess remains a popular sport around the world, its professionals have not earned the same respect in the public eye. What can be done in these cases? Some chess fans have written into ChessBase to call for a boycott of Russian chess tournaments and Russia as a venue. There is no certainty that is will solve the issue, nor would it be fair to the chess players.

Traditionally, the chess community has discussed these issues vigorously, but have never come to the defense of aggrieved players as a community. During Fischer imprisonment on false charges in Japan, there was no such protest of his brutality and mistreatment and very little for Azmai’s beating and detainment. Where will the next Kasparov saga lead? The Olympiad is starting in another week and he will most certainly be in the mix of political wrangling there. It will certainly be a lot safer in Istanbul than Moscow. Right?

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

5 Comments

  1. Kasparov releases statement…

    Moscow, Russia – August 23, 2012

    Monday, August 21, I visited the district office of the Investigative Committee of Russia to submit my complaints. The first for my illegal arrest and physical assault by the police. The second, against officer Dennis Ratnikov for his libelous accusation of assault against me. Ironically, libel was recently upgraded to a criminal charge in Russia in order to persecute citizens who were critical of the leadership! I answered the investigator’s questions:

    • Did you assault the police officers? No.
    • Did you offer resistance? I would not call it that, but I was being abducted unlawfully and did not want to be put on the bus.
    • Did you bite the officer? Absolutely not. Even had I wanted to, there was no opportunity.
    • Did you insult any officers with profane language? I admit that while being assaulted and in physical pain I used strong language in my emotional state.

    The ICR (similar to the American FBI; they answer to the office of the President) will now decide whether or not to combine my two complaints into one. It was clear they were not happy about having to deal with this counterattack. But it was the security forces who created this absurd situation, and its absurdity does not mean it is not dangerous so I must respond seriously.

    The latest evidence against the accusation that I bit officer Ratnikov on the hand is a chronological series of photographs by Artyom Geodakian clearly showing a small cut on his left hand before he participated in beating me. I do not know how he acquired this cut, but that is not my concern. I am lucky so many members of the media were there and indebted that many of them have lent their expertise to refuting the charges against me. Among them, The New Times, Grani, The Term, Novaya Gazeta, and the BBC. Several correspondents, including that of Radio Liberty, signed the witness statement in my defense.

    This is all part of the remarkable support I have received here in Russia and abroad from politicians, actors, business leaders, and the global chess community. People I met only once at a long-ago conference have gotten in touch. My family and I are truly grateful. I am lucky enough to have a famous name and the resources for medical care and legal defense. Many in Russia are not so lucky, and if you see how I am treated with the whole world watching you can imagine what happens to activists here with no one watching and with no one to defend them. Such brutality by the police and the courts is a routine for them.

    In the coming months, dozens of activists will be put on trial for protesting and other acts of defiance against the Putin regime. They need legal defense, medical aid, and their families often need assistance. You can help! We have established a non-profit foundation to receive donations for this purpose, called the Foundation for Democracy in Russia. These donations will go to helping those unjustly persecuted and their families. In the last few days we have received donations from people in more than a dozen countries, a wonderful show of solidarity.

    Along with aiding these courageous individuals directly, each donation throws sand in the gears of the Putin repression machine. You see, in order to give the appearance of a legitimate government, the Kremlin allows trials and appeals and is signatory to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Putin relies on the inability of ordinary Russians to hire attorneys and defend themselves. The courts are Kremlin puppets, but they must go through the motions of justice to avoid even greater global condemnation and the risk that Western leaders will finally call for Russia’s expulsion from international covenants. This would cost Putin and his cronies business deals and trade agreements – in other words it would hit them where it hurts, their wallets! Putin’s oligarchs will be forced to realize it is against their best interests to continue persecuting innocent people for speaking their minds.

    People power does not let Western leaders off the hook. If they take the ideals of freedom and justice seriously, they must pass legislation to sanction Putin and his officials for punishing innocents and destroying the rule of law in Russia. In the US, the Magnitsky Act in the Senate (S.1039) would show these thugs that they will be held accountable for their actions. No more oppression at home in Russia while traveling freely abroad and keeping their loot in European and American banks. Similar legislation exists in the European Union. You have a voice, so let your representatives know how you feel!

    Garry Kasparov

    1. The biting charges appears to be ludicrous. To have a cut like that, it would have required a tremendous bite. It appears the police office got nicked when Kasparov leaped off the bus. Maybe it happened when he hit Kasparov during the beating. This sound similar to the Azmaiparashvili case where the Spanish police claimed he head-butted them.

  2. This was a bad blunder by the Police authorities. This was all Kasparov need to strengthen his position. This only gives him more credibility, more exposure and more leverage. These police officers are certainly not chess players! Double question mark.

  3. Kasparov Declared Innocent in Unprecedented Case
    August 24th, 2012

    In a verdict that is virtually unprecedented for the Russian opposition, Garry Kasparov has been acquitted of spurious charges by police officers that he yelled anti-governmental slogans outside a courthouse last Friday and ignored police orders to stop doing so. The judge uniquely allowed Kasparov’s defense to enter video and photo materials as evidence in the case, which proved beyond any sort of doubt that neither of these things actually happened.

    A full written statement will be issued shortly; in the meantime, a video of his speech after exiting the courthouse and a translation are below. Updates are being posted at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Garry?Kasparov/243791258306 and https://twitter.com/Kasparov63.

    I have a strange sensation, it’s hard to even find words for it, because my lawyers, friends and I didn’t expect anything besides another typical guilty verdict, and when, over the course of so many years, all opposition activists have been inevitably convicted in courts like this, it’s hard to imagine that the day would come when the courts could provide us with legitimate consideration. Actually, today was very unusual, because from the very beginning, as opposed to many other previous similar cases, the judge agreed to allow motions by the defense. Moreover, all of the defense’s motions were accepted, including those that called witnesses to the stand and those that entered video and photographic material as evidence. Of course, this was a very, let’s say, unusual sign, but we didn’t understand that it would influence the final verdict so much.

    I would like to express my particular gratitude to the journalists who managed to collect so many materials, especially photo and video ones, which were used in the case today and which absolutely had an influence both on the judge and, perhaps, on the people who have influence on the judge. All the same, it was just too obvious. I’d like to thank the journalists who came and appeared as witnesses here today, because it was clear that these people, who were completely different and of completely different nationalities, all said the exact same thing. It seems to me that this left an impression, and it also became obvious that, as opposed to many similar situations, there was no actual case of any sort of event occurring. And the extremely confused testimonies of the two police officers who detained me, which contradicted each other, they of course convinced the judge that their version of events held no credibility.

    The result was a full acquittal, and this is a very important step forward. I don’t intend to stop here; I want to have charges brought against the officers who illegally detained me. We’ve already filed the necessary paperwork with the investigative branch for the Khamovniki region. And I hope that this verdict will give us additional evidence so that that my detention and beating will be given due consideration by investigators.

    As far as the next case is concerned, the one by Officer Ratnikov about this absurd attack – again, I hope that this today’s session will allow us to draw upon video and photo materials. We have very unique materials, basically an entire archive that allows us to give practically a second-by-second account of everything that happened outside of the Khamovnichesky Court. Again, my thanks to the journalists who managed to film all of this, to dig it all up from their electronic devices and even now continue to come forward with different photos and video clips. And I hope that the investigators will act just as objectively as this judge did today, and that I’ll be so lucky as to have Officer Ratnikov be convicted of libel.

    It’s hard for me to say what sort of consequences today’s verdict is going to have for the Russian opposition on the whole. I even feel slightly guilty, because until now all of these verdicts have been guilty ones, and so many of my friends are still experiencing this pressure. We know that the widespread investigation of the May 6th events on Bolotnaya Square is still ongoing. But nevertheless, this is a very important step forward, and I’m going to do everything in my power to help those who need defense in these matters, because not everyone is so lucky to have their detentions and the police violence they experienced be covered so fully by the press.

    Translation by theotherrussia.org.

  4. Wishing the best for Kasparov and Russia. Its pretty clear that democracy is much better than communism or dictatorship. However, weak opposition people do suffer a lot in any form of govt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button