Russian grandmaster Alexey Sarana clinched the European Individual Chess Championship in 2023 after winning a tournament in Serbia, according to a report by Sports.ru. Sarana scored 8.5 points after 11 rounds, topping the leaderboard ahead of Kirill Shevchenko of Romania and Daniel Dardha of Belgium, who both scored the same number of points and took 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Another Russian, Andrey Esipenko, finished in the championship’s top ten, coming in 8th. Both Russian chess players competed under the flag of the International Chess Federation (FIDE).
Alexey Sarana, now 23, left Russia shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. As noted by Radio Liberty, the grandmaster issued an anti-war statement in March last year and decided to stay in Serbia, where he had traveled for a tournament.
“Our government's actions are totally disgusting. I don't agree with them, but I cannot influence them. I do not like this war, its motives are horrific,” Sarana said.
Andrei Esipenko also spoke out against the war, signing an open letter to Vladimir Putin from Russian chess players demanding an end to the invasion.