Sergey Kotov, the Consul General of the Russian Federation in South India, conferred the ‘Order of Friendship’ to Viswanathan Anand, the legendary Indian Chess Grandmaster, at the Russian centre of Science and Culture on September 10, reports News18.
P Balakrishna Reddy, the Tamil Nadu State Sports Minister, and Gennadil A Rogalev, the Director of the Russian Centre of Science and Culture were also present for this momentous occasion.
The prestigious ‘Order of Friendship,’ is a state decoration of the Russian Federation, and recognises foreign nationals whose work, deeds and effort have resulted in the betterment of relations with the Russian Federation and its people.
The list of recipients includes iconic personalities like Nelson Mandela, and Anand is the only Indian apart from Mrinal Sen, the famous filmmaker, to receive this honour. Sen, a noted filmmaker from Kolkata, is often considered to be one of the greatest ambassadors of Bengali parallel cinema on the global stage, and his films are known for their artistic depiction of social reality.
Speaking to News 18, Kotov said that Anand had received this honour, for fostering Indo-Russian relationship in sports.
Some of Anand’s fiercest competitors, including Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik, are Russian. Speaking at the event, Anand spoke fondly about practising and playing at the Russian Centre, saying that he learnt and benefitted from Russian players who were not only rivals but also companions.
He also remembered his trips to Russia in 1986, and later in 2012 when he visited Moscow and met Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with Boris Gelfand.
It has been quite the period of good fortune for Anand, who endured a tough 2017 after a relatively stable 2016. In 2016, he had two very high finishes—the second place in St Louis, and the third place in London, at the Champions Showdown and London Chess Classic tournaments, respectively.
Then, disaster struck as he crashed out of the Chess World Cup in Tbilisi, in 2017 in the second round itself. Overcoming the defeat, he made a stunning comeback to claim the World Rapid Chess title in Riyadh, at the end of the year, at the age of 48.
Well, from taking his career’s initial steps here, to accepting an honour, Viswanathan Anand’s relationship with the Russian Centre for Science and Culture has certainly come full circle.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)