Lichess Statement on the War in Ukraine

“Truth is the first casualty of war” - Ethel Annakin

Along with the vast majority of the world, Lichess has been watching the war waged by Russia and Belarus against Ukraine with shock and complete dismay.

As a chess website, commenting on geopolitical situations is outside of our usual remit. But, such is the seriousness of this war of aggression that we feel compelled to make our position clear. Lichess has always advocated vocally for freedom, openness and mutual collaboration. We will always promote and defend these values against those who promote subjugation, opacity, and hostility.

The actions of the Russian and Belarusian governments have been so globally damaging, and so widely felt, that even the chess community must comply with various sanctions and actions both governmental and private. This is unprecedented for all of us.

We stand in resolute solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We are working on proactive steps we can take to substantively and tangibly improve the situation for the war victims. We will have an update on this shortly.

We also respect the many brave people of Russia and Belarus who condemned or have protested their government's actions - including those from within the chess community - despite the risk to their own personal safety.

Following FIDE's extraordinary meeting of their council, Lichess will also not show any Russian or Belarusian flags or play their anthems in official broadcasts and media from official FIDE events.

Further to this, following action and sanctions against Russia, including from our home nation of France, Lichess has come to the following conclusions:

  • From today (Wednesday 9th March 2022), users with a public and vocal jingoistic pro-war position will no longer be eligible to receive prize money from official Lichess events.
  • Lichess will not offer any official support for events held by the Chess Federations of Russia or Belarus, although it will not ban those federations from the site.
  • Lichess may choose not to feature, broadcast, or cover entire events or parts of an event where a player or an official with a public and vocal jingoistic pro-war position is participating.
  • All users are reminded that Lichess has the right to proactively remove access to certain services or features of our website from users who, at our sole discretion, violate our Terms of Service (ToS). This includes the glorification of terrorism, sharing extremist, bigoted, or racist views, and promotion of genocide / war crimes. This should have no impact on the vast majority of our users, from any nation, who follow the Community Guidelines within our ToS.
  • Following international sanctions on various banks and the SWIFT network, we cannot guarantee being able to remit prize money to anyone with a Russian or Belarusian bank account, even if it uses foreign intermediaries. Contact us if this occurs, and we will do our best to remit any prize money so long as the user is eligible to receive it.
  • Lichess will not block or ban anyone with a Russian or Belarusian IP address. Whilst Russia muzzles press freedoms and tries to shut itself off from the rest of the world, we believe chess to be inclusive, and that needlessly isolating people from the rest of the digital world will only foment echo chambers. In some small way, Lichess can help prevent this from occurring.
  • Lichess will not remove Russian or Belarusian flags from user profiles. Russia and Belarus exist as countries, and removing their flag does not change that. There are also many Russians and Belarusians who disagree with the war and are protesting it, whose bravery we respect, but by nationality still identify as Russian and Belarusian.

Lichess is actively monitoring this developing situation, including regularly reviewing international sanctions. It is particularly fluid and the above conclusions may change based on new information, government advice, or laws.

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