Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a message of greeting to the participants in the World Chess Championship for Women, the Kremlin press service said.
"Your prestigious international competition is a vivid sports event. The fact that it is held in Russia is the recognition of high authority of the Russian chess school and its great contribution into the development of the ancient art.
I hope we shall remember the world championship for beautiful intellectual struggle, and interesting and friendly matches. I believe it will contribute to chess popularity," reads Vladimir Putin's telegram.
The opening ceremony of the 2004 World Chess Championship for Women took place on Friday in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia (a republic in Russia's south). All in all, 64 chess-players from 30 countries claimed participation in the championship, the FIDE organizing committee told RIA Novosti.
Russians Alisa Galyamova, Svetlana Matveyeva, Alexandra Kostenko, Yekaterina Kovaleva, Ulyana and Nadezhda Kastintsev, Yekaterina Polovinnikova, Irina Slavina and Natalia Pogonina will participate in the championship.
The competitions will run from May 22 to June 8 in City Chess, an international chess center in Elista.
At first the World Chess Championship for Women was scheduled to be held in Batumi, the capital of Adzharia (an autonomy in Georgia), and former Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze was its main sponsor. However, in late April FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov decided to change the championship venue because of the aggravated situation in Adzharia.
Yesterday FIDE Vice-President Zurab Azmaiparashvili told journalists in Tbilisi that Aslan Abashidze and his friends were co-sponsors of the championship. The winner will get a special prize, Mr. Azmaiparashvili added.