Final move: Gaddafi says goodbye to chess buddy
As checkmate nears for the Libyan dictator he calls his Russian chess partner Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
As Nato officials admit they have no idea where Colonel Gaddafi may be hiding, they could do worse than ask Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the head of the world chess federation. He claims to have spoken on the phone yesterday to Gaddafi and his son Muhammed.
The eccentric Russian businessman and politician has known the former Libyan leader for several years because they share a passion for chess. Ilyumzhinov has been the head of Fide, the game's governing body since 1995, and he was filmed playing against Gaddafi on a visit to Libya in June as civil war raged.
They are so close apparently that as the rebels closed in on the Libyan capital, Gaddafi chose to give Ilyumzhinov a quick call. The Russian said his phone rang at about 6pm and was surprised to find one of Gaddafi's sons, Muhammad, on the other end of the line. He told him that Gaddafi wanted to have a word and that he would act as translator.
The embattled dictator apparently then told him he was alive and well and hiding out in Tripoli. "Do not believe the lying reports by Western television companies," he said.
"I want to express thanks to everyone in the world who feels for the people of Libya. I am sure that we will be victorious," he added.
Ilyumzhinov later told AP: "And after that he adds in English: 'Thank you very much!'"
Whether Ilyumzhinov's account can be trusted is a moot point. He hit the headlines last year after he told Russian TV how aliens wearing yellow spacesuits had appeared on his balcony in 1997, taken him aboard their ship and flown him into space.
When Russian MPs raised concerns with Dmitry Medvedev that Ilyumzhinov might pass state secrets on to the aliens he was stripped of the leadership of Kalmykia, a small, oil-rich Buddhist region near the Caspian Sea. ·
Comments are now closed on this article