Calcutta: When the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was finalised on December 26, 1991, Sergey Fedorchuk was just a 10-year-old boy, who hardly realised that his generation was witnessing the birth of a nation.
Today, as a proud Ukrainian, the Grandmaster is agonizing over the fact that his country is faced with strife and conflict.
With the Russian aggression mounting in Crimea, which is “part of the Ukraine” and the international community coming out in support of his country, Fedorchuk said: “Russia cannot force us to join them. There has to be some kind of a referendum. Yes, life is Russia may be better and more developed. But we are proud to be independent. They just can’t use force like this. Crimea is a part of our country. There is no way it can become part of Russia.”
Though Fedorchuk now lives in Paris, he has family living in Vinnitsa, an ancient city in central Ukraine. “It is a very scary situation. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be an all-out war. Ukraine does not have the kind of military acumen or weapons to counter Russia,” he said.
“I don’t understand the political motivations. But we are from the same ethnic background. Yet Russia wants to dominate by using sheer force. In Ukraine, we may not be very happy with the recent government, but Russia cannot use that as an excuse to grab our nation. Also they are trying to capitalise on the fact that many EU countries depend on them for energy. But people back home do not want to join Russia,” he said.
“It is only the government of Russia creating trouble. I have friends in Russia, I play with them and there is no ill feeling.”
Fedorchuk, who started as the second seed in the ongoing 6th Kolkata Open International Grandmasters Chess Tournament, is not really playing true to his form. With an Elo rating of 2647, he was the strongest player in the field, apart from the top seed Nigel Short. But the Ukrainian in now struggling with just three points, way below the leaders.
“Yes, the problems back home are playing on my mind. For chess, you have to be able to concentrate fully. I am not being able to do that here.
“Moreover, the time difference between Paris (where he stays now) and Calcutta is causing problems for me,” he laughed. Obviously, even high flying chess champions suffer from jet lag. “The heat and humidity here is also something that I need to get used to. I need to acclimatise, and fast. A lot of things are playing on my mind,” he said.
The GM acknowledged the fact that the field in the competition is rather strong. “There are some very good players. But I do hope I will recover soon and end at a better position in this meet,” he said.