As a chess player Garry Kasparov won every possible title. For the past two years the grandmaster has moved his battles from the chess board to the political stage. And here too, he went in for the highest possible goal. The opposition leader wanted to participate in the presidential elections of 2008. Even though he managed to unite the opposition, Putin threw a spanner in the works before the elections had even begun. Garry Kasparov is no longer running for the highest political office. Chess’ former enfant terrible had very quickly mastered the political game. He managed to rally several opposition parties behind the name ‘A different Russia’. Under Kasparov’s inspired leadership they went out into the streets and demanded a Russia without Putin and his politics. While Kasparov cited ‘the pain his country was in’ as his main reason for entering the presidential elections, playing at the highest levels seems to be in his blood. ‘There is no point in playing, if you’re not playing to win’.
Opposition from Putin was to be expected. Chances that he was going to put up with the chess player, who has gained great popularity in the West, were slim. Putin indicated that he wanted to stay in power and remain prime-minister after the elections, and he wants to have his own candidate for president beside him. VPRO´s BACKLIGHT managed to gain Kasparov’s trust and followed him for one year on his campaign through Russia. Until the opposition became too powerful. Traveling was made impossible for the candidate and he was arrested several times. The opposition became so great that Kasparov, who had never before been forced to give up fighting, was forced to quit for the time being.
Director and research: Allard Detiger, Masja Novikova
Producer: Miriam Bos
Editors in chief: Jos de Putter, Doke Romeijn