Indian chess ace Dronavalli Harika was among the several players who were allegedly sent sexually abusive mail during an event in Latvia in November last year. The Indian Grandmaster, ranked 11 in the world, said she was not aware of it until the last day and that the organisers of the Grand Swiss tournament in Riga and the FIDE (international chess federation) handled the issue efficiently.
“..there is a letter sent on my name in Riga which I wasn’t aware of until the last day. Not to cause any kind of disturbance, FIDE held the issue until the last day and handed over the letters to police. “I was informed on the last day about the issue and I handed over the legal case to FIDE,” Harika told PTI.
She further said she did not open the letter nor did she face any problem. “Neither I opened the letter nor faced any kind of problem. Riga organisers and FIDE handled the issue really efficiently,” she added.
On its part, FIDE said it took action when the letters were received during the event and it was reported to the police in Latvia which is investigating. “FIDE took action when letters were received during the Grand Swiss tournament in Riga. We reported it to the police right away on behalf of the players, to minimize distractions to them. We can confirm that the Latvian Police took it seriously and it is actively investigating,” FIDE said.
“We would like to thank the Latvian police for their discreet and fast reaction. Since FIDE has become an official party in the criminal case that has been initiated in Riga, we can’t comment further on this matter, to avoid interfering in the ongoing investigation,” it added.
According to reports in the Russian media, some 15 players were the target of sexually abusive mail. It happened in the Grand Swiss tournament in November as player received anonymous mail – envelopes containing pornographic material – sent to players in hotel rooms and at tournaments.
Russian GM Valentina Gunina, one of the players, who received the mail, was quoted as saying by chess.com that everyone was shocked. Gunina, who was in touch with the other players, said until Riga, she did not know other players were also receiving letters like this and that “no one discussed it, so I thought only me.”
Former world champion Susan Polgar replying to one of the conversations on Twitter, wrote: “This is really sad to hear. Unfortunately, this has gone on for decades. “The only difference is due to the internet, the world gets to know about it, and chess officials can no longer sweep these incidents under the rugs. I am a victim, even much worse, for nearly 5 decades.”