Chess champion Garry Kasparov plots move against rival Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
Former chess champion Garry Kasparov will today attempt to seize the sport's top job from a man who claims to have been abducted by aliens and is accused of being a Kremlin puppet linked to the world's most brutal dictators.
For the past 19 years, the presidency of the World Chess Federation has been held by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, an eccentric former president of Russia's only Buddhist region - Kalmykia.
The 52-year-old claims he was once abducted by aliens who communicated telepathically and took him to another planet in a giant spaceship.
But his greatest challenge may come today, when the most famous name in chess, former world champion Kasparov, tries to oust him from the federation presidency in a battle that carries echoes of Cold War chess confrontations.
The showdown will take place on the sidelines of the Chess Olympiad in the Norwegian city of Tromsoe.
Kasparov, 51, is one of Russia's most vocal dissidents, labelling the government of President Vladimir Putin a "dictatorship". He says Ilyumzhinov is too close to Putin and says his leadership of the 181-country World Chess Federation has been marked by "abuse and favouritism".
Ilyumzhinov has been accused of damaging the reputation of the chess federation by cultivating close ties to some of the world's most brutal dictators including Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.
Some see the hand of the Kremlin behind Ilyumzhinov's chess diplomacy. "I am a patriot of Russia," he said recently. "I love my country.
"Kasparov, who grew up in this country, received an education here, became a champion here, who was receiving money here, from my own hands - he is praised for struggling against Russia and its people. Isn't it crazy?"