Last Friday, Russia’s Ministry of Justice added GM Garry Kasparov to the list of individuals acting as “foreign agents” for receiving donations or funding from outside Russia and carrying out political activities. For Kasparov, who is living abroad, the decision seems mostly symbolic and even a badge of honor.
A law from 2012, originally designed to constrain independent NGOs in Russia, was expanded several times. Since December 2020, it includes the possibility to label Russian individuals who are engaged in political activity. Starting from April 2022, dozens of Russian journalists, public activists, and scientists have been declared foreign agents and as of last Friday, Kasparov is included as well.
According to the Justice Ministry, Kasparov received funding from Ukraine and the American Human Rights Foundation.
Kasparov reacted on Twitter: “’Russian Justice Ministry’ is an oxymoron under Putin. And I was representing my country back when Putin was still spying on his colleagues in East Germany and stealing from the people in St. Petersburg. Being anti-Putin is, and will always be, pro-Russian.”
“Russian Justice Ministry” is an oxymoron under Putin. And I was representing my country back when Putin was still spying on his colleagues in East Germany and stealing from the people in St. Petersburg. Being anti-Putin is, and will always be, pro-Russian. https://t.co/u7jkvv4Eun
— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) May 20, 2022
Kasparov, who was world chess champion from 1985 to 2000, retired from competitive chess in 2005. He still plays occasional chess events, under the Russian flag, but is mostly active as a political activist and commentator. Having predicted Russian president Vladimir Putin’s aggressive warfare in Ukraine to a large extent in his 2015 book Winter Is Coming, he has been interviewed numerous times by international media since the start of the war.
Last week, Kasparov was a guest at the Grand Chess Tour’s Warsaw Rapid & Blitz tournament. Then he traveled to Lithuania where he met with, among others, GM Viktorij Cmilyte, the speaker of the Lithuanian parliament.
A very special meeting with @Kasparov63 in @LRSeimas! While #chess is never off the table, today we focused on helping #Ukraine and what a Ukrainian victory would mean for the future of democratic Russia. Unity and determination of the democratic world is now essential. pic.twitter.com/ofPPR3dRgE
— Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen (@VCmilyte) May 20, 2022
At the moment Kasparov is attending the Oslo Freedom Forum as he does every year as the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation. On Tuesday, he was involved in a panel discussion hosted by Anne Applebaum (staff writer for The Atlantic and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of Eastern Europe) and joined by Paul Massaro (senior policy advisor for the US Helsinki Commission and counter-corruption expert) and Oleksandra Matviichuk (head of the Center for Civil Liberties).