Between Putin and Kasparov it is a game of chess to the death that has been played out for many years. In 2012, the 13th world champion in history published a pamphlet unambiguously titled, Putin Checkmate!. “The courts, in the pay of the Kremlin, maintain a semblance of justice so as not to attract the opprobrium of the international community and see Russia excluded from international treaties. Putin and his acolytes would indeed risk missing out on juicy contracts; in other words, they would be hit where it hurts: their wallets,” he wrote at the time.

Time has passed but the ideological opposition which animated the two men has not weakened and Russia has placed the grand master in exile in the United States on a list of people declared “terrorists and extremists”, according to a notice from the Russian financial intelligence service consulted Wednesday by AFP.

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“An honor that says more about Putin’s fascist regime than about me,” reacted the person concerned on his X account followed by a million people. “Extremism in the defense of freedom is not an vice; moderation in the search for justice is not a virtue! “, he added, quoting a phrase from the American politician Barry Goldwater (1909-1998).

Born in 1963 in Azerbaijan, then one of the fifteen republics forming the USSR, the one nicknamed in the universe of 64 squares the Ogre of Baku, was one of the greatest chess players in history before to become a fierce opponent of Vladimir Putin. In 2013, fearing legal action, he left Russia and now lives in the United States, from where he continues to denounce Russian power and its military campaign in Ukraine.

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A few days after the attack on Ukraine in February 2022, he called for Russia to return to the “Stone Age” by ensuring that Western technologies no longer reach Russian industries. In 2022, Garry Kasparov had already been designated a “foreign agent” in Russia, an infamous label massively used against opponents, journalists and human rights activists and which forces them to undergo heavy administrative procedures.

Kasparov -Karpov, in 1985: the 24th historic game which allowed the Ogre of Baku to dethrone Karpov, the darling of the Soviet empire

Most of the major opponents who remained in Russia are imprisoned. Some, like Boris Nemtsov and Alexei Navalny, are dead. The others ended up going into exile. Garry Kasparov is famous for his long duel in the 1980s with another Soviet chess legend, Anatoly Karpov. He subsequently supported Vladimir Putin and became a deputy in the Russian president’s party.