Former chess world champion Anatoly Karpov has been found badly injured outside Russia’s parliament after calling for an end to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

There are varying reports of what happened to the grandmaster, known for his positional style of play and long rivalry with Garry Kasparov.

Reports stated the 71-year-old, who was rushed to hospital after being found injured, had been “attacked” or had an “unfortunate fall” while another report claimed he was drunk.

Verifying information from inside Russia was made especially difficult after Moscow shut down independent media outlets at the outset of the Ukraine invasion.

The grandmaster was reportedly found unconscious at the State Duma on Saturday.

He was diagnosed with a closed craniocerebral injury, a fracture of the left femur, and “severe alcohol intoxication”, Russian site reported.

All-Russian Movement of Entrepreneurs Andrey Kovalev claimed on Telegram that “Karpov was attacked” and that he was placed into an “artificial coma”.

Another report stated he was connected to a mechanical ventilator and was suffering from a number of serious head and brain injuries.

Meanwhile Karpov’s assistant Albert Stepanyan denied that he was attacked.

The grandmaster’s daughter Sofia confirmed he was in a coma but said he was “injured as a result of an everyday injury; there was no attack”.

Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin, who was ostracised by the chess community for his outspoken support of the invasion of Ukraine, told Russian state media that Karpov was injured in a fall.

“He is in the hospital,” Karjakin said. “He fell badly.”

But Karpov’s wife Natalya Bulanova told Sport Express the former world chess champion was “at home and everything is fine with him”.

Hungarian-American chess grandmaster Susan Polgar said she had been told by a “reliable source that former World Champion Anatoly Karpov is doing OK”.

As a member of parliament, Karpov voted to recognise the Russian-backed separatist regions – the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. He was hit with sanctions banning him from travelling to the European Union as well as an asset freeze.

His political stance is considered pro-Putin but he recently called for an end to the war in Ukraine so that “peaceful people will stop dying”.

He reportedly told a TV station in Kazakhstan: “I wish [the war] would end sooner, so that peaceful people would stop dying.

“In the end ordinary people are the victims. Ordinary people fight, politicians and generals decide, and ordinary people fight, civilians die.

“I am not even talking about soldiers and officers. No, I could not imagine at all that Russians and Ukrainians would go to war. I have many friends in Ukraine.”

‘Unfortunate ends’ for Putin opponents

Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, has cracked down on any dissent against his brutal invasion, which he calls a “special military operation”.

At the start of the war, thousands of protesting Russians were arrested and media outlets critical of the government were shut down.

Since then, a number of Putin’s critics have met unfortunate ends.

Earlier this year oil tycoon Ravil Maganov, 67, “fell from a window” at a Moscow hospital, the latest in a series of businessmen who have died under suspicious circumstances. His company Lukoil had criticised the war in Ukraine.

Novatek deputy chairman Sergey Protosenya, 55, was found dead in Spain – with his wife and daughter found dead in their beds with axe wounds. High-profile Russian business executive Ivan Pechorin, 39, fell off the side of a boat and his body was found two days later.

Gazprom executive Alexander Tyulakov, 61, died in February this year and a note was found next to his body.

Newspaper editor Vladimir Sungorkin, 68, suffered a stroke and suffocated while on his way to lunch and oil billionaire Alexander Subbotin, 52, died from a “drug-induced heart attack” during a shamanic ritual or from “toad poison” while seeking a cure for a hangover.

A document compiled on Wikipedia includes a growing list of at least 16 Russian businessmen who have been found “dead under unusual circumstances”.

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