As if threatening to ban flights over Russia and banning all imports of Norwegian salmon weren’t enough, Russian officials have also sued the Norwegian organizers of the Chess Olympiad now going on in Tromsø. Their Russian women’s team filed a late application to take part in the competition, and now wants their Norwegian hosts to cover their extra costs in fighting it.
“Yes, the Russians have filed legal action,” Børge Robertsen, managing director of the Chess Olympiad, told Norway’s TV2 on Thursday. “They want us to cover their legal costs.” The lawsuit was made public just as the Russian government was announcing a ban on imports of Norwegian fish and threatening to close Russian air space to European airlines including SAS and Norwegian.
The Russians clearly feel a need to assert themselves internationally. Norway’s TV2 reported that the claim against the Norwegian organizers of the Chess Olympiad is for the equivalent of NOK 1.2 million (around USD 200,000), to cover the team’s cost of hiring lawyers to protest their initial exclusion from the Chess Olympiad because of their late application. When they missed the deadline, the Norwegian organizers dropped them in accordance with the rules, but later relented and let them and nine other teams enter the competition despite late applications.
Their decision came after complaints from the president of the international chess federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is Russian himself and up for re-election during the Olympiad in Tromsø. He even threatened to cancel the entire Olympiad if the Russian team wasn’t allowed to play.
Trond Skogly, attorney for the Chess Olympiad organizers, confirmed the Russian chess federation has sued Chess Olympiad 2014 and its chairman, Hans Olav Karde, in the local Tromsø court. Skogly disagrees that the Norwegians have any obligation to compensate the Russians but noted that the Russians have the right to get their complaint handled in court.
“We have responded that we reject their claim as groundless,” Skogly told TV2, adding that he expected the court to process the case quickly.
The action around the chess boards in Tromsø continued, meanwhile, with Norway losing its match against Armenia on Wednesday. Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, ranked tops in the world, faced the world’s number-2 Levon Aronian and the match ended in remis (a tie), while two of Norway’s other four players also tied but Simen Agdestein lost against Armenia’s Gabriel Sargissian after five hours and 20 minutes of play.
That left Norway with a loss of 1.5 points against Armenia’s 2.5, which also knocked Norway down from the top of the competitive ranking after five days of play. Armenia, known as a chess powerhouse, won the last Chess Olympiad in Istanbul in 2012.