Chess-Putin gives award to grandmaster banned for backing Ukraine invasion

FILE PHOTO: Chess - 2018 World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships - Rapid Open - Saint Petersburg, Russia - December 26, 2018. Sergey Karjakin of Russia looks at a board during a game against Anton Demchenko of Russia. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday granted Russian chess grandmaster Sergey Karjakin a state award after he was suspended by the discipline's international governing body for publicly supporting Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Putin granted the 32-year-old a medal of the order "For Merit to the Fatherland", a distinction awarded to Russians who have made outstanding achievements in their fields, according to an official portal for legal information.

Karjakin, who challenged Magnus Carlsen for the world title in 2016, is an avid Putin supporter and has furiously defended Russia's decision to send troops into Ukraine on social media.

His comments prompted the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to suspend him for six months for breaching its code of ethics in March.

Karjakin, who was born in Crimea and represented Ukraine until 2009, called the decision to suspend him shameful.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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