Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Kasparov Elected President of Russia

In a stunning development that has sent shock waves through the capitals of the world, the Supreme Court of Russia has overturned the country’s recent presidential election and named former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov Russia’s new head of state.

The court’s decision represents a 180-degree reversal of the original election, which installed Dmitry Medvedev as the hand-picked successor to Vladimir Putin. Though doubts about the integrity of the election were widespread outside of Russia, calls for greater openness fell on deaf ears, and Putin’s grip on the country’s institutions appeared solid.

[**Exclusive photos of Kasparov's first day in office**]

That solidity began to unravel, however, when it was learned that the voting machines used in the election were the same ones used in Florida for the U.S. presidential election of 2000, and that the vote count in Russia had been secretly overseen by former Florida Secretary of State and Bush campaign official Katherine Harris.

The revelations created a scandal that quickly devoured the country's ruling elite.

“Our political system has a high tolerance for corruption,” said a senior Russian official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But even we have our limits, and a connection to the 2000 debacle in Florida was too much of an embarrassment even for us. Bringing in Katherine Harris to count the votes was pretty outrageous. Medvedev had to go.”

Kasparov, who was a declared candidate for president, even though his name wasn’t on the ballot, immediately took the oath of office and moved to consolidate power and reform the country. To motivate citizens of the world’s largest nation, he ordered copies of his recent book, How Life Imitates Chess, air-dropped in large quantities onto Russia’s major cities. He sent Moscow police to raid the hookah club reported to be operating in the basement of KGB headquarters. To quell jittery financial markets and prove that he was in control, Kasparov took to the airwaves his first night in office and delivered a nationally televised lecture on the Sicilian Najdorf.

And in an attempt to inject vitality into the ossified Russian chess establishment, Kasparov appointed the young Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk to Commissar of Chess.

World reaction was mixed. In Washington, President Bush was cautious. “I trusted Vladimir Putin because I had looked into his soul,” Bush said. “I don’t know much about this Kasparov fellow except that he hangs out with Mig Greengard and Paul Hoffman, which worries me.”

Sen. Barack Obama said he hoped Kasparov could bring much-need change to Russia. He invited the new president to Chicago and his Hyde Park home, promising to introduce the former world champ to the chess hustlers outside Starbucks and at the 53rd Street Borders. Sen. Hillary Clinton expressed doubts about whether Kasparov had been fully vetted and wondered if he had the experience to be commander-in-chief of Russia on day one.

“You mean when I make a call to the Kremlin at 3:00 a.m., a chess player’s going to pick it up?” she asked.

Presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain said the volatility in Russia proved that we must keep American troops in Iraq for a hundred years.

“Make it two hundred,” he added as an afterthought.

There was reaction from the chess world as well. Though initially declining comment, GM Judit Polgar said that “as long as Garry remembers the touch-move rule, he should be okay.”

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who’s now in the awkward position of having Kasparov as his boss, could not be reached for comment immediately, though a spokesperson in Elista said the president of the Kalmykian Republic was “conferring with his space chums.” Western diplomatic sources said this was code, interpreting it to mean that Kirsan had undergone another alien abduction.

In New York, chess blogger Elizabeth Vicary called Kasparov a “right winger,” prompting angry denunciations from Boston Blitz Manager Matt Phelps, who said her USCL Blogger of the Year Award should be rescinded. Phelps was soon joined by Blitz players Chris Williams and Ilya Krasik for a torrent of online invective. League Commissioner Greg Shahade appealed for calm, but at last count there were 618 anonymous comments on the blog thread, not counting 277 profanity-laced messages that had been removed by Vicary’s cats, who serve as the site’s administrators during the day, while she’s off teaching at Brooklyn’s I.S. 318.

Having rooted out corruption and put the machinery of reform into high gear, Kasparov repaired to his dacha in the country with Greengard to begin work on his new book about recent Russian political history. Tentative title: My Lousy Predecessors.


Unknown said...

Nice try... :)

chessloser said...

you should be writing for the onion..this wins on many levels...

Tom Panelas said...

Thanks, that's quite a compliment. Actually, my favorite practitioner of the parodic craft is Andy Borowitz. I think he does it the best, even better than the Onion, though when they Onion nails it, they really nail it.