Online chess portal Chess.com has banned Russian Grandmaster Denis Khismatullin after he visited Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, the player said in a statement on Thursday.
Khismatullin’s ban comes in the wake of Polish number one Jan-Krzysztof Duda refusing to shake his hand before their first-round match at last month’s World Rapid Chess Championship in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Since then, Khismatullin’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine has come under increased scrutiny.
Following the incident in Samarkand, “a heated debate began on social media, where facts emerged that I … had been on a number of humanitarian missions to the special military operation zone,” Khismatullin explained.
Poland’s number one GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda refuses to shake hands with Russian GM Denis Khismatullin. Screenshot from the video footage of the 2023 World Rapid Championship.
While Khismatullin said that he disagreed with Duda’s actions, he defended “his right to act this way, expressing disagreement with my position” and called on the media not to insult the Polish Grandmaster.
Chess.com confirmed that it had banned Khismatullin “from prize events and social activity on Chess.com,” in a decision that it described as “consistent with our policies and prior actions regarding players who support the war.”
The world of chess has been rocked by scandals since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Chess.com was banned in Russia in April 2022 after the platform condemned the war, while Russian and Belarusian players participating in International Chess Federation competitions must compete under a neutral flag.