Peter Doggers’ Chessvibes ran a story about a row in Spain after a Ukrainian GM Viktor Moskalenko hurled accusations at a contingent of Cuban players who compete in the Spanish circuit. One of the prime targets is GM Orelvis Perez Mitjans who recently was conferred his GM title last year in Istanbul.
The gist of the complaints from Moskalenko was that a coterie of Cubans collude in tournaments and even engage in prearranged losses in order to split the winnings. Even further he accuses the Cuban players of discussing games in progress.
Mosalenko has filed a complaint with the Catalan Chess Federation. The Spanish documents (and accompanying letters) make for some colorful reading and one can feel the anger in the words. Mosalenko invokes race in his letters, refers to Cubans as “gangsters” and calls the behavior a “global threat to chess.” At one point he even refers to Cubans as “animals”. Was this merely because Mitjans had won the Catalonian championship after Moskalenko lost to a Cuban compatriot of Mitjans?
In any other European country acting so players would be eliminated once and for all. But here, the Cuban players come every year because they are not punished for their theft and feel like in paradise.
Moskalenko diatribe certainly has a racial/ethnic/national tone and continues with the “animal” and “monster” references. Other players cited were: IM Arian Gonzalez Perez and Lazaro Lorenzo de la Riva, who beat Moskalenko in the quarterfinals of the Catalonia Championship (which Mitjans won).
I need to protect myself from them like I need to protect (myself) from animals…
~GM Viktor Moskalenko referring to ‘Cuban Mafia’
However the incident that set off the firestorm was during a league match in which Moskalenko beat Mitjans. Oset Guerau stated that Moskalenko was screwing pawns and pieces into the board, rising from the board repeatedly and wearing a smirk on his face. Moskalenko won the game and Guerau stated that Mitjans reacted to this behavior by tossing the scoresheet toward him and uttering, “You’re a clown”.
In several of the responses to the complaint, writers rebuked Moskalenko including the one of the Deputies of the Catalan Chess Federation. They opined that it was not the proper forum since the complaint filed should not be adjudicated online. IM Arian Gonzalez Perez had his own view in a rebuttal letter stating that Moskalenko has a very volatile emotion and has exhibited unprofessional behavior during tournaments, especially when he lost to players that he deemed inferior. There was not much support in the letters for Moskalenko.
GM Viktor Moskalenko winning the strong Benidorm Chess Festival in 2009. Photo by https://www.ajedrez32.com/.
There are many stories concerning tensions in the chess arena and this appears to be the latest. Many players have discussed some of the racial/ethnic insensitivity that occurs behind closed doors in Europe. It appears that the football pitch is not the only place that insensitivity seems for pervade. Moskalenko appears to have lost any semblance of moral authority in the tone of his letter.