Since retiring from professional chess in 2005, Garry Kasparov has become one of the most prominent voices in Russia’s pro-democracy movement. On DW's "Interview", the youngest chess world champion in history speaks out.
Kasparov calls Vladimir Putin a "dictator," and he adds that, unlike many others, he feels no nostalgia at all for the Soviet Union that he grew up in.
"Dictators like Putin can crumble overnight or they can last," Kasparov told DW. "It depends mainly on the pressure from outside. Putin's popularity in Russia and his claim to power is based on the image of Russia being a fortress of good surrounded by evil empires that are trying to destroy Mother Russia." Kasparov added that Putin's political defeat depended on other people or countries, like the Assad regime in Syria "going down."
On Putin's style of government, Kasparov said that "the way Russia has been run by Putin over the last years is more like the mafia. The mafia boss must be invincible. The moment the inner circle smells weakness, they’ll take care of him."
When asked about his early years, Kasparov denied any feelings of nostalgia. He said he was unable to separate "my youth, my first chess successes, winning the World Championship" from the Soviet system. "From age 13, I could travel abroad as a chess protégé - so I had a very different vision of the world. (...) I had to do certain things, play by certain rules. But I left the party in January 1990, so two years almost before the collapse of the Soviet Union. And I was the first Soviet athlete who refused to play under the Soviet flag in September 1990."
Kasparov was born in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan in 1963. He took up chess at the age of six and was a junior champion by the age of 13. He became the world's youngest chess champion in 1985 by beating his great rival Anatoly Karpov. He retired from professional chess in 2005 and formed the United Civil Front, of which he is still the chairman, and co-led The Other Russia coalition.
On his website kasparov.com, Garry Kasparov describes himself as "a Russian pro-democracy leader, global human-rights activist, business speaker and author, and former world chess champion."
DW's "Interview" with Garry Kasparov airs Sunday, October 25, at 04.03 UTC. The "Interview" features prominent figures from politics, economics and society, as well as from religion and culture, in conversations that strive to be both political and personal.