International woman grandmaster Lilit Galojan has filed a lawsuit against the Armenian Chess Federation, claiming that she was illegally left out of the national team because of her recent pregnancy.
The 35-year-old player, who has won several national titles and medals in international competitions during her chess career, also believes her political views during last year’s revolution may also have influenced the decision of the Federation that is headed by former President Serzh Sarkisian.
Galojan, who for years was a member of Armenia’s national team and participated in world and European championships and chess Olympiads, claims that the order of the composition of the squad was changed in violation of the Federation’s regulations. In particular, according to her, the meeting of the Federation’s Board on December 17, 2017 could not be considered legitimate as the presence of two thirds of the staff was not ensured and the protocol of the meeting signed by Sarkisian was forged.
“That could not be called a board meeting. It was just some meeting at which the head of the Federation was present. Even if he was the president of Armenia, it does not allow the Federation to break its own regulations just because a high-ranking official was present there,” the grandmaster said.
Galojan further insisted that the protocol falsely presented her as a participant of the meeting while she did not attend it. “It does not have a word about any change in the regulations,” she said, referring to provisions that led to her exclusion from the team.
The final composition of the squad was formed on May 2, 2018, when stormy political developments were taking place in Armenia. Galojan said she did not exclude that one of the reasons for the decision not to include her in the team was her and her family’s political views as during the days of anti-government protests Galojan did not join the members of the Armenian chess team who voiced their support for Sarkisian, congratulated him on his election as prime minister and described the movement led by then opposition leader Nikol Pashinian as unacceptable.
“I made some posts on Facebook after being inspired by the revolution,” Galojan said.
Secretary-general of the Armenian Chess Federation Mikayel Andreasian described Galojan’s accusations as slander. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the grandmaster had been offered to take part in an international tournament, for which the Federation would cover all expenses, even though it wasn’t its obligation. However, he said, because Galojan was pregnant at that time, she refused to participate in the tournament and there was no way to determine whether by the level of her preparedness she was qualified to be included in the national team or not. And the order of forming the team was changed so as to make it more competitive, said the Federation official, ruling out any illegality in the process.
“We had kept all members of the board informed of the decisions and they agreed to vote for them in absentia,” Andreasian explained.
Galojan has also presented financial claims to the Federation and wants to be paid for the time she was not on the team as well as receive financial compensation for missing an international tournament. The Federation official, however, explained that they did not pay salaries to national team players and that the payments they receive constitute “social assistance” given at the Federation’s discretion.
“For 15 years Galojan was on the team. The Federation met every need that she had during that time,” Andreasian said.
Despite stepping down as prime minister in April 2018, Sarkisian remains head of the Chess Federation and according to the regulations can lead this body until 2022.