FIDE has approved the CFR's move to Asia, with a series of measures in place for players who wish to compete in Europe ©Getty Images

The Chess Federation of Russia (CFR) is set to switch its affiliation from the European Chess Union (ECU) to the Asian Chess Federation (ACF), after receiving approval from the International Chess Federation's (FIDE).

This is subject to approval at the ACF General Assembly in Abu Dhabi next Tuesday (February 28), and would come into force on May 1.

The FIDE Council opted, though, to impose measures aimed at supporting Russian players who wish to join another European National Federation, following recommendations from a Constitutional Commission report.

These include a waiver of transfer fees to FIDE and compensation fees for the CFR for any player previously registered to represent Russia, a move open until August 31.

These players are able to compete for their new National Federation at official individual FIDE events from the day following the submission of their application if all other conditions have been satisfied, and can transfer back to the CFR at a later date without fees or compensation.

Their right to participate in European team competitions is a decision for the ECU.

The FIDE Council has revised Russia's zone for the purpose of World Chess Championship qualification from 1.6 to 3.8, and is set to create a Working Group for further structural changes to the FIDE zones.

The CFR applied to transfer from the ECU to the ACF in April last year.

ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili stressed the importance of protecting Russian players who have criticised the war in Ukraine and wish to compete in Europe.

"In this situation when the RCF takes a radical political step and leaves Europe, we are totally ready to close the doors behind them," the Russian official said.

"But we need to provide at least a minimum remedy and treat fairly those players who did not act against the peaceful mission of sports and do not want to follow the RCF administration to Asia."

Russia and Belarus were suspended by the ECU in March 2022 in response to the invasion of Ukraine and their national teams suspended from FIDE events, although players have been able to compete at individual competitions under the FIDE flag.

FIDE also suspended former World Chess Championship finalist Sergey Karjakin of Russia for six months after he supported the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Russian players have been able to play at individual chess events under the FIDE flag, but Sergey Karjakin was banned for six months for pro-war statements ©Getty Images
Russian players have been able to play at individual chess events under the FIDE flag, but Sergey Karjakin was banned for six months for pro-war statements ©Getty Images

"While the ECU recognises the importance of the long-standing Russian chess history, the war in Ukraine and the political composition of the RCF administration creates a huge legal, political, and ethical gap between the RCF and the ECU," the ECU added.

The ECU confirmed that players who registered for next month's European Individual Chess Championships in Serbia under the FIDE flag remain eligible to take part.

Sanctions including a ban on FIDE events being held in Russia remain in place.

The International Olympic Committee has welcomed a suggestion that Russian and Belarusian athletes could return to international sport under a neutral banner by competing at Olympic Council of Asia events.

However, most Russian sports have opted against transferring their affiliation from Europe to Asia, including the Russian Football Union which instead sought a Working Group with UEFA to restore relations.