“On Long Island, Kasparov Talks Putin, Chess, and AI”
By Adina Genn


Garry Kasparov and Joe Campolo

On the night before Former FBI Director James Comey testified about Russian election hacks, Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess champion, said in Woodbury Wednesday that nothing surprised him about Vladimir Putin.

“Putin in 1999 while meeting former colleagues at KGB headquarters said that once KGB, always KGB,” Kasparov noted at the Woodlands at Woodbury. “It was symbolic but also a clear message of what he’d do, given the chance.”

Kasparov made these remarks at an event by CMM International division of Campolo Middleton & McCormick, the law firm headquartered in Ronkonkoma. A fundraiser for the Human Rights Foundation, the event was the first in a series aimed at bringing global-matter discussions to Long Island. Kasparov is chairman of HRF, a nonprofit that aims to protect human rights in closed societies.

Speaking about his book Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, Kasparov also shared insights on world events, chess and artificial intelligence.

“Chess was more than a game,” he said, speaking of his time as a world champion in the Soviet Union. “It was used by an accomplished machine to demonstrate their superiority.”

And politics flowed naturally from chess.

“I was introduced to politics because I could see at an early age, that as chess world champion, I could help people overcome fears and build a better country,” he said.

Kasparov has long stood in opposition to Putin.

“I think the most important thing for me is to make a difference,” he said. Kasparov wrote his “first article about Putin in the Wall Street Journal in 2001 about how Putin was our problem, then he would become the problem of neighboring countries, then everyone’s problem, not because I’m Nostradamus and can predict the future, but because I read a few books, I know what happens with dictators. I knew it was my duty to interfere.”

Speaking of losing a chess game Deep Blue, an IBM machine, in 1997, Kasparov said it was “painful,” but also said, “It’s up to us to look for new frontiers. Machines move us in that direction.”

But, he said, with technology terrorists “can build a sophisticated terrorist network. We are living in a world where enemies of the free world – ISIS, Putin, Al Qaeda – know how to use this technology and free speech to create an environment where they can recruit young people, not-so-young people, frustrated people.”

And he noted that the United States has lost its stature over time.

“The credibility of American policy has been shattered. Truman had credibility; Stalin believed Truman was a man of action. Ronald Reagan won the Cold War; he had credibility when he said, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’” Post Cold War, he said, “Clinton did little, Bush did too much, Obama did nothing and now maybe the pendulum broke.”

Still, Kasparov saw a bright spot, pointing out that there are “Optimistic people responding to threats. I hope people will learn to be more engaged. There is no one else but us to act.”

In hosting the event, the law firm aims to educate Long Island business owners about international business, legal, tax, regulatory, and important foreign affairs issues. A spokeswoman for the firm said that its additional sponsors – Sasserath & Zoraian, Investors Bank, the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, Protegrity Advisors – helped raise funds for HRF.

Bernadette Starzee contributed to this report.

Read it on LIBN‘s website.

View photos from the fundraiser.