This week Garry Kasparov was granted citizenship by the Republic of Croatia. The former world champion turned human rights activist is running for FIDE President, and wrote on his website that he did not want to “depend on Putin's Foreign Ministry” anymore while campaigning. The news was posted on the Russian version of Kasparov's personal website, and also reported by The Guardian.
“The bodies of the Republic of Croatia handed me a passport of their state. I am grateful to the government of Croatia for their invaluable help in such an important and crucial moment for me: the campaign for the FIDE presidency entered its active phase, during which I will visit yet some thirty countries - in these circumstances, it would be prohibitively expensive to depend on Putin's Foreign Ministry. I should be able at any time to cancel my Russian passport,”
wrote Kasparov (50) on his website on Friday. Even though he is not travelling to his home country for the time being, he is not intending to renounce his Russian citizenship. With his Croatian passport Kasparov expects to be able to travel more freely.
Although he prefers to be called human rights activist, Kasparov has played an active role in the opposition to Putin's government. He was among several protesters who were arrested in August 2012, while standing outside the court in Moscow where members of the protest band Pussy Riot were being sentenced. In November 2007 he spent five days in jail for protesting on behalf of The Other Russia, an umbrella coalition that gathered opponents of Putin.
Kasparov has had strong ties with Croatia for a long time. In 1992, during the Yugoslav war, he participated in the creation of a refugee fund of the city of Vukovar. A year later he was made an honorary citizen of the city, and two years later he was awarded the state award of Croatia.
Besides, Kasparov has a summer residence in the southern Croatian town of Makarska and he speaks the language. In January he met with the Croatian president, Ivo Josipović, who praised him for providing “great moral support to Croatia” during the country's war of independence.
According to The Guardian, earlier Kasparov had applied for Latvian citizenship, but the Latvian government announced in November it would not grant him citizenship owing to "procedural issues".