Russia’s Libya envoy told chess chief to tell Gaddafi endgame is near

The Russian head of world chess went to Tripoli over the weekend with instructions to make it clear to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that the endgame is near, the Russian president’s special envoy to Africa said on Monday.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), visited Tripoli on Sunday and was shown on television playing chess with the embattled Libyan leader.

Mikhail Margelov, who is leading Moscow’s mediation efforts in the Libyan conflict as President Dmitry Medvedev’s special envoy, said on Monday he would visit Tripoli next week for talks with top government officials.

“On the eve of his trip on Friday, Ilyumzhinov telephoned me and informed me that he was going to travel to Tripoli, and was expected to meet with Gaddafi to discuss chess questions,” Margelov told RIA Novosti.

“I advised him to play white and move E-2 to E-4, and make it clear to Gaddafi that his side is close to the endgame,” the diplomat said.

Ilyumzhinov, who was president of the Russian republic of Kalmykia from 1993 until 2010, arrived in Libya on Saturday for an official visit to promote chess playing in the North African nation. During their meeting on Sunday, Gaddafi reportedly told Ilyumzhinov he had no intention of stepping down.

“Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said he was not going anywhere, regardless of the pressure,” a chess federation spokesman said after the meeting.

Ilyumzhinov also met with the Libyan leader’s son Muhammad al-Gaddafi during the visit.

Margelov said many organizations are getting involved in Libya, with the visit of Ilyumzhinov just one example.

The Russian president’s envoy has no plans as yet to meet with Gaddafi during his visit. Margelov made it clear last week that Russia expects Gaddafi to step down, declaring that Gaddafi had “lost the legitimacy and moral right” to be the Libyan leader.

Margelov, who is also chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian parliament’s upper house, held talks with leaders of Libya’s opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) in their stronghold of Benghazi last week.

He said both Russia and the TNC wanted a political solution to the crisis and criticized the NATO-led military campaign for overstepping its UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

MOSCOW, June 13 (RIA Novosti)

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