Libya's Gadhafi plays chess with Russian visitor
MOSCOW (AP) — As the world awaits Moammar Gadhafi's next move, the Libyan leader has been playing chess with the visiting Russian head of the World Chess Federation.
The federation is headed by the eccentric Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who until last year was the leader of Russia's predominantly Buddhist republic of Kalmykia. He once claimed to have visited an alien spaceship.
Libyan state television showed Gadhafi, dressed all in black and wearing dark sunglasses, playing chess Sunday evening with his Russian guest. He seemed somewhat unsure of how the game is played.
Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Ilyumzhinov as saying Gadhafi told him he has no intention of leaving Libya despite international pressure as rebels with NATO air support fight to end his 40-year rule.
It was unclear where the chess game took place. Gadhafi's compound in the center of Tripoli has been under NATO bombardment and was hit again Sunday.
Before leaving for Tripoli, Ilyumzhinov contacted Russian presidential envoy Mikhail Margelov, who is trying to mediate in Libya's civil war.
Margelov said he advised Ilyumzhinov "to play white E2-E4 (a chess opening) and to make it clear to Gadhafi that his strategy goes to the end game," the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
Russia has joined the West in urging Gadhafi to step down, and Margelov said while visiting the rebel stronghold of Benghazi last week that the Libyan leader had lost his legitimacy.
Ilyumzhinov appeared to ignore the advice. Allowing Gadhafi to play white, he seemed to be showing him how to begin the game and then called it a draw.
"I offered to draw, because it's not polite to win when you're a guest, " Interfax quoted Ilyumzhinov as saying Monday.
The two men have known each other since at least 2004, when the chess federation, known by its French acronym, FIDE, held its world championship in Tripoli.
Ilyumzhinov, a wealthy businessman, had been the leader of Kalmykia from 1993 until he stepped down last October.