Nona Gaprindashvili: "They can’t intimidate me. They can only kill me"

Nona Gaprindashvili: "They can’t intimidate me. They can only kill me"

RIA Novosti's interview with five-time women's world chess champion

The founding congress of the new United Democratic Georgia Party financed by oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili will soon be held in Tbilisi. The party is led by Nona Gaprindashvili, a five-time women's world chess champion. The head of the RIA Novosti office in Georgia, Besik Pipia, interviewed the legendary chess player in the oligarch's sprawling residence overlooking the Kura River.

Question: What twists and turns have brought you to this sumptuous palace? What do you, a chess player, have in common with a rebel business tycoon?

Answer: After the break-up of the Soviet Union and the formation of independent Georgia, I was approached and asked if I would head up the National Olympic Committee (NOC). I accepted the offer. I chaired the committee until 1996 while remaining the honorary president of the NOC. In 2004, Badri Patarkatsishvili was elected president of the Olympic Committee. It must be said that Mikheil Saakashvili really wanted him to take that job. He personally asked Badri to lead the campaign to revive Georgian sports.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Badri saved athletics in Georgia. He managed to stop the exodus of Georgian athletes abroad. Previously, Georgian athletes would leave the country, change their citizenship and compete in the Olympic Games under the flags of other countries. They did not just take part; they won medals for these countries. During the 2004 Olympics in Greece, they won gold medals for Greece, Germany and Uzbekistan. In short, Badri breathed new life into Georgian sports, providing everything the athletes needed for training, including monetary compensation, which was unheard-of in Georgia. While the government paid an Olympic gold medal winner $25,000, Badri paid $225,000.

So, it was athletics that brought me and Badri together. I thought it was my duty to be by his side in times of trouble.

Q: Why did Badri Patarkatsishvili and Mikheil Saakashvili have a falling out?

A: Because of the Imedi TV company, which was owned by Patarkatsishvili. The authorities were vexed by the criticism they heard on the channel, even though it was constructive criticism. Imedi did not sidestep delicate issues, drew public attention to high-profile murders, mass arrests, the illegal seizure of people and organizations' property, the state's extortion of money from businessmen and so on. Apparently the "rose" revolutionaries only like to be praised. The authorities tried to interfere in the TV company's editorial policy, but Badri fought them off. Then they offered him huge bribes if he sold Imedi. There was talk about exchanging Imedi for the Georgian Railways. "Imedi is my child, and one doesn't sell children," Badri replied.

Q: What is the goal of the new opposition party that you have agreed to lead?

A: The last presidential election has shown that hundreds of thousands of people support the program of reviving Georgia that Badri Patarkatsishvili has proposed. It would be wrong of us to leave these people in the lurch. Badri's campaign slogan, "Support, Breakthrough, Prosperity" still stands and it will be implemented.

Q: Badri Patarkatsishvili promised to spend about a billion dollars within 18 months if elected. He has not been elected. Who will receive payments for gas, electricity and water supply bills, unemployment benefits and sizable compensation ($2,000-3,000) for every newborn child? Members of your party? There are 2 million unemployed people in Georgia.

A: We are developing a scheme of social benefits and they will be given not only to members of our party.

Q: Do you face pressure from the authorities? For example, to leave Badri and drop out of politics and play chess instead?

A: In order to put pressure on someone, they need to have compromising materials. They can't dig anything up on me because there isn't anything. I have lived an honest and decent life. The authorities cannot make me budge. They can only kill me.

Q: How could a girl from the little known Georgian town of Zugdidi rise to the top of world chess and set a record that is still unbeaten? You are a five-time world champion, you won 11 Olympics and the European Champions Cup twice.

A: I was born in Zugdidi, a town I am very fond of, to the family of a teacher. My father, Terenty, taught accounting at a technical school and my mother, Vera Grigolia, was a housewife. She raised five sons and a daughter. All my brothers played chess, and I watched them and was sometimes allowed to play. Once a chess tournament for boys was held at the local Young Pioneers House and my brother could not play because he was sick. They were looking for someone to stand in for him and they chose me. I sat down at the chessboard and quickly beat my opponent, a boy several years older than me. I caught the trainer's eye.

Q: Do you have any budding champions in your own family?

A: My son David is 36. He works for a British company that clears mines in conflict zones. I have two grandchildren, Leri, 12, and Nikoloz, who is 18 months old.

I don't see any future champions in the country. Perhaps nature is taking a break in Georgia. For 40 years Georgian female chess players were the best in the world. My record has not been beaten, but it has been equaled by Maya Chiburdanidze.

Q: Do you have time to play chess nowadays?

A: I take part in various contests. I placed second in a chess veterans' tournament in Italy two years ago. I get many invitations from Russia and have played in tournaments in Siberia and the Urals lately. I was aware of the same warm feelings toward myself and the Georgian people as in Soviet times. It is bad when our leaders fight. Will the Lord forgive us? Will we be able to explain to Him how two Orthodox Christian countries have allowed their relations to deteriorate to such an extent?

Azercell expanded the coverage of the LTE network to more than 85% of the country's territory last year
Azercell expanded the coverage of the LTE network to more than 85% of the country's territory last year
Azerbaijan's First VP Mehriban Aliyeva re-elected as President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation
Azerbaijan's First VP Mehriban Aliyeva re-elected as President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation
Trade facilities, hairdressers, and beauty salons resume activity in Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Trade facilities, hairdressers, and beauty salons resume activity in Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Loading Bars
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on Jan.26
USAID empowers early adopters of digital economy of Turkmenistan
Azerbaijan's heavy industry to reach new level
Uzbekistan Airports officially joins Airport Council International
Uzbekistan, EAEU approve road map for effective co-op in 2021
Kazakhstan boosts petroleum oil exports to Austria despite COVID-19
Kazakhstan restoring crude petroleum exports to Czech Republic
Volume of loans issued by Georgia commercial banks up
Kazakhstan’s largest gas supplying company opens tender for road repairs
Kazakhstan taking measures to develop container transportation by railway and sea
Kazakhstan continues to implement transport projects despite COVID-19 pandemic
Azerbaijan’s Baku Taxi Service opens tender for maintenance and repair of London Taxi
Investments in Azerbaijan's economy to increase - Standard & Poor's
Kazakhstan working on launching ferry service with Turkmenbashi, Makhachkala ports
Uzbekistan to use South Korea’s experience in digital economy dev’t
Azerbaijan planning to export domestic oil for diesel engines to Ukraine
Google workers to form global union alliance
S&P forecasts decrease in unemployment rate in Azerbaijan
Azercell expanded the coverage of the LTE network to more than 85% of the country's territory last year
Iran's exports through Astara customs grow
Relations on two sides of Araz are relations of kinship and friendship - Iranian FM
Azerbaijan shows footage from Kurdler village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to rise
Contract to be signed on eleventh phase of Iran's South Pars gas field
Liabilities of Azerbaijani private sector to banks to decrease over next 3 years
Foreign trade turnover of Uzbekistan’s Samarkand region reduced in 2020
Turkish Yilmaden Holding eyeing chromite enrichment launch in East Kazakhstan
Georgia sees decrease in wine export
Production of vehicles in Azerbaijan increases
Hogan Lovells continues to advise Shah Deniz consortium after launch of SGC
Azerbaijan's Unicapital OJSC predicts notable rise in operations with securities for 2021
South Korea allocates additional grant for Uzbekistan to counter spread of COVID-19
Kazakhstan to auction several land plots for hydrocarbons exploration, dev't
Iran’s IOOC continues operations in Sivand and Esfand oil fields
Azerbaijan's AzerGold CJSC reveals 2020 revenues from export of gold, silver
S&P Global Ratings discloses forecast average inflation rate in Azerbaijan until 2024
Visit of Iran's Zarif to Baku - historic, says MFA spokesman
Russian MP included in "blacklist" - Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry
New opportunities with respect to new situation in region open wide doors to cooperation - President Aliyev
Cooperation on Khudafarin water reservoir, future plans with respect to construction of power station already in very active phase - President of Azerbaijan
Russia’s Tatneft in Turkmenistan opens tender for provision of truck crane services
We will be very happy to see companies from Iran among companies who participate in reconstruction of liberated areas - President Aliyev
Iran to carry out vaccination against COVID-19 in Jan.-Feb. 2020
Non-OPEC oil supply to rise in 2021, says JP Morgan
Iran and Tajikistan agree to complete Istiqlol tunnel
Iran boosts value of exports from Gilan Province
Uzbekistan manages to maintain active foreign trade balance with number of countries
Volume of goods available in Iranian ports revealed
Italy consumer association sues Apple for planned iPhone obsolescence
Iran asks EU to comply with its commitments within JCPOA
IKEA lowers climate footprint helped by pandemic and energy-efficient light bulbs
Iran says it will comply with its commitments if US returns to nuclear deal
Georgian Innovation and Technology Agency implements new project with WB support
Iran discloses data of exports via Astara port
Remittance inflows to Georgia increasing
Uzbek agro-industrial agency announces tender for well construction
Turkey testing domestic missile from submarine (VIDEO)
Kazakhstan's Ministry of Agriculture preparing for sowing campaign
ECB can price climate risk better than the market
Azerbaijan's First VP Mehriban Aliyeva re-elected as President of Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation
Azerbaijani Economic Zones Dev't Agency to stimulate investment inflow in industrial parks
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 25
Agricultural lands in Iran to be equipped with modern irrigation systems
Azerbaijan's current account balance to return to surplus in 2021 - Standard & Poor's
Azerbaijan sends letters on Armenia's crimes to several countries (PHOTOS)
USAID launches new regional projects with participation of Turkmenistan
Iran’s Petropars Operation and Management Company signed contract on Forouzan field
Trade facilities, hairdressers, and beauty salons resume activity in Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Spain interested in financing infrastructure projects in Georgia - Spanish Foreign Ministry
Uzbek-Korean JV announces tender for transport services
Iran could rely on oil and gas export for generating revenues - former minister
Azerbaijani investor talks automation of derivative transactions in capital market
Operation in Dashalti in 1992 went down in history as Azerbaijan's most unsuccessful military operation
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office puts several Armenian mercenaries on wanted list
Industrial gas inflow obtained from exploration well managed by Uzbekneftegaz
Nike urges court to throw out EU probe into Dutch tax deal
Uzbekistan to mark lands with organic agricultural seeds with special signs
German business morale drops to six-month low on virus woes
Uzbekistan achieves positive economic growth despite global pandemic
Iran's export via Bazargan border booming
Iranian ship seized in Indonesian waters
Several contracts signed on oil fields of Iran’s NISOC
SOFAZ reveals income generated from sale of condensate from Shah Deniz field
Azerbaijan's SOFAZ discloses volume of revenues from ACG fields for 2020
Georgia reports 298 new COVID-19 cases
Turkmenistan working on registration of second Russian coronavirus vaccine
Dostlug field's development to potentially connect Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan-Europe gas pipelines
Azerbaijan records growth in volume of deposited securities
Textile production in Kazakhstan shows stable growth
Volume of cargo loaded, unloaded in Iran’s Amirabad port announced
Azerbaijani FM receives Iranian counterpart (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Construction of new railway terminal between Iran and Azerbaijan to be launched
Economy Minister talks Karabakh's role in development of Azerbaijan's non-oil sector
Uzbekistan boosts Chinese apple import despite COVID-19
Kazakhstan reports slight decrease in imports from Egypt
Israelis express readiness to travel to Georgia
Turkmenistan plans to commission number of new facilities this year
Uzbek currency rates for January 25
Negotiations to be held on issue of tomato supply from Azerbaijan to Russia
Azerbaijan eyes to integrate state entities to government-cloud system
All news