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Garry Kasparov: Putin’s Russia

The Russian chess player shares his thoughts on the Ukraine crisis and explains why Putin is everybody’s problem.

You might compare the world’s increasingly complex relationship with Russia to a game of chess. And history has arguably seen no more formidable chess player than Garry Kasparov, who has been described by the New York Times as ‘Vladimir Putin’s chess master nemesis’.

Putin will not play by the rules … it seems to me that the international community as a whole now is quite tired of Putin’s eccentric behaviour.

At the age of 22, he became the youngest-ever world chess champion, leading the rankings for almost two decades. Among his many records, one he might rather forget: losing a match to a computer, IBM’s Deep Blue, in 1997.

Kasparov retired from the game in 2005, becoming a prominent figure in opposition politics in Putin’s Russia. He planned to run for president, but was forced to withdraw on a technicality.

In 2013, Kasparov left Russia, fearing arrest in a government crackdown on the opposition.

“I paid a heavy price; I had to leave the country … I t was difficult to reorganise my life and relocate … But I have nothing to regret because I did the right things … I don’t think that this regime will last forever,” he says.

He launched a campaign for president of the world chess governing body, FIDE. But earlier this month, Kasparov lost that bid, beaten by the longtime incumbent, the Putin-backed Kirsan Illyumzhinov. For the chess legend, largely unaccustomed to defeat, it seemed Kremlin forces had won again.

Kasparov says: “The West has [finally] recognised that Vladimir Putin won’t recognise any other language but the language of strength …. Putin is everybody’s problem and that’s what happens with dictators from the big countries when they have resources to cause trouble around the world. I think his weakest point is money … Putin’s strength was always based on his ability to throw cash into the game.”

Garry Kasparov talks to Al Jazeera about his opposition to Putin, the Ukraine crisis, his vision of Russia and the future of chess.