A Buddhist prays at a newly built temple in Elista, capital of the southern Russian republic Kalmykia. ..The US$25-million temple was built by millionaire president of the republic, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov...Critics have decried the building as a white-elephant in a state mired in poverty...Ilyumzhinov, 44, who is also the president of the World Chess Federation, Fide, is hosting one of the world?s most important matches in history. ..The match beginning September 21 in Elista, the capital of Europe?s only Buddhist nation, will end a 13-year split in the game that has produced rival claims to the title. ..Veselin Topalov, a Bulgarian ranked first according to Fide, will play against Vladimir Kramnik, who is the Classical Chess World Champion, a title established after Garry Kasparov led a breakaway from Fide in 1993. The two grandmasters, both aged 31, will face each other for the right to be undisputed world chess champion...A Buddhist millionaire businessman, Ilyumzhinov acquired his wealth in the economic free-for-all which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. ..At the age of just over 30, he was elected president in 1993 after promising voters $100 each and a mobile phone for every shepherd. Soon after, he introduced presidential rule, concentrating power in his own hands. ..He denies persistent accusations of corruption, human rights abuses and the suppression of media freedom. When Larisa Yudina, editor of the republic's only opposition newspaper and one of his harshest critics, was murdered in 1998, he strenuously rejected allegations of involvement. ..Mr Ilyumzhinov has been president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) since 1995 and has been enthusiastic about attracting international tournaments to Kalmykia. His extravagant Chess City has led to protests by its impoverished citizens. ....Add to Lightbox Download
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Kalmykia Russian russia republic Veselin Topalov Vladimir Kramnik Classical Chess chess Bulgarian Fide World Chess Federation Elista Buddhist buddhist buddhism Kirsan Ilyumzhinov President championship echecs oligarch temple grandmaster southern caucasus caucasian kalmyk corruption businessman president
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