Palm Beach Post Columnist
Friday, December 15, 2006
The cash to fuel Russian President Vladimir Putin's political demise could come by way of Palm Beach.
The diminutive ex-KGB agent's arch enemy, former chess superstar Garry Kasparov, has set up his world headquarters on the tony island. He's getting ready to start fund-raising stateside for his oust-Putin cause and possible run for the presidency.
From a hole-in-the-wall office on the second floor of a Peruvian Avenue commercial building, Kasparov's longtime agent, Owen Williams, tells Page Two he has set up a nonprofit, Freedom for a Democratic Russia, and is launching an English-language Web site to disseminate stories about how crooked the current Russian regime is.
Kasparov's 1984 world championship match against Anatoly Karpov became legendary, but he quit chess nearly two years ago for politics. Now Kasparov, 43, who has been in Palm Beach four times in recent years, has gotten so deep under Putin's skin that he expects to be arrested at an anti-Putin demonstration Saturday in Moscow, Williams said.
Police looking for "subversive literature" raided Kasparov's Moscow office Wednesday.
"I'm transitioning from running Garry's businesses to helping with his campaign," said Williams, 74. "He's made a modest fortune ($10 million) from chess, but politics are expensive."
With some Putin opponents turning up poisoned these days, other tenants in the Palm Beach building have grown wary. Some said they've seen guys in dark suits and government cars hanging out, but FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said Thursday she couldn't confirm they were G-men.
Williams recently had his phones equipped with scramblers and his computers equipped with spy-proof firewalls.
"At my age, I'm not worried about polonium or spies," Williams said.