The Chess Federation of Russia's move to Asia has been called a "shameful day for chess" by European Chess Union vice-president Malcolm Pein ©CFR

European Chess Union (ECU) vice-president Malcolm Pein has accused the International Chess Federation (FIDE) of being "directed by the Kremlin" after it allowed the Chess Federation of Russia (CFR) to move to Asia.

The CFR is due to become a member of the Asian Chess Federation from May 1 following a vote at the continental governing body’s General Assembly yesterday.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, welcomed the move, claiming it will allow Russian players to compete "more freely".

The ECU is opposed to the switch, with Pien describing it as a "shameful day for chess" and claiming that the Russian Government had influenced FIDE’s decision to give the move the green light.

"There are three points to take from this," Pein, captain of the England chess team for eight years, told

"Firstly, this is a shameful day for chess.

"We are the first sport to see its governing body facilitate its federation in Russia to evade sanctions by switching to Asia.

"Secondly, it is now essential to protect those Russian players who wish to continue to play under the aegis of the European Chess Union. 

"The ECU has taken steps to ensure that will happen, lobbying hard for the waiving of transfer fees, which were in any case ridiculous.

"Thirdly, it is quite surprising that Indian and the Chinese federations agreed to this switch by the CFR, if they have (I have not seen the results of the vote), because it will lead to increased competition and therefore reduced opportunities for their players to qualify for places in the World Championship cycle, unless changes are made to it.

"FIDE is clearly out of step with the International Olympic Committee on this matter and once again the organisation looks like a toy in a soft power game where the moves are directed by the Kremlin."

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, is among the Chess Federation of Russia's Board of Trustees ©Getty Images
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, right, is among the Chess Federation of Russia's Board of Trustees ©Getty Images

The ECU has previously expressed concerns about high-ranking Government officials being part of the CFR structure, with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Vladimir Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov named among its Board of Trustees.

"This makes the CFR, a sports entity, not only politically exposed, but also exposed to the consequences of the war," a statement from the ECU read in January.

"We firmly believe that in such crucial moments for peace and safety in Europe, each federation should protect its independence as a sporting body."

The ECU revealed a further statement last week, claiming that there was a "huge legal, political and ethical gap" between themselves and the CFR.

CFR's affiliation with ACF goes as far back as April 30 in 2022 when the organisation sent a letter to the ECU, stating its intent to change body, after FIDE banned Russia from team events shortly after Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Members of the ACF General Assembly in Abu Dhabi approved the move, with 29 delegates voting in favour, one polling against and six others abstaining.

The FIDE Council agreed last week 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.

There was overwhelming support by delegates in Abu Dhabi to allow Russia to join the Asian Chess Federation ©CFR
There was overwhelming support by delegates in Abu Dhabi to allow Russia to join the Asian Chess Federation ©CFR

Any Russian players right to participate in European team competitions is a decision for the ECU.

"In this situation when the CFR takes a radical political step and leaves Europe, we are totally ready to close the doors behind them," said ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili.

"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 CFR administration to Asia."

insidethegames has contacted FIDE for comment.