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Russia: World chess body ends presidency row

A Russian provincial governor who claims to have visited an alien spaceship was re-elected as president of the World Chess Federation yesterday, ending a long, bitter campaign that critics said descended into intimidation and farce.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who has been president of the federation since 1995, defeated Anatoly Karpov for the leadership of the Federation, known by its French acronym of Fide, by 95 votes to 55.

But supporters of Mr Karpov claimed that he had been denied by blatant rule-breaking by the eventual winner, who went so far as to switch off his critics' microphones at the Fide meeting in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk in order to continue to speak himself.

Mr Ilyumzhinov, who is the governor of the province of Kalmykia, denied the claims of impropriety and voting irregularities. Mr Karpov had pledged to overhaul the chess authorities to clean up alleged corruption in the global game. He was offered the vice-presidency by Mr Ilyumzhinov after the votes were counted.

Mr Ilyumzhinov claims that he uses hypnosis in daily communication and consults clairvoyants in his business affairs.

Rights activists have accused him of cronyism, corruption, rights abuses and squandering government funds on chess championships and Buddhist temples – allegations he has denied.