A former officer of the KGB with a twenty-year service record, Chigorin is elected president in an election that was considered rigged by many Western analysts. His past record also causes alarm to the US government but Chigorin presents himself as a president who is favourable to better relations between the US and Russia. He is also believed to be a reformer who supports enhanced protection of the environment and reduction of Russia's nuclear stockpile.
Prior to his first meeting with President Bartlet at a summit in Helsinki, American intelligence discovers that the Russians had been supporting Iranian efforts to create a heavy water reactor in Arak for its nuclear program. If the intelligence is right, President Bartlet would not be able to meet Chigorin. Determined to meet the American president, Chigorin sends a message through his negotiating team which he personally wrote as a covert message to President Bartlet. The message makes clear Chigorin's interest in meeting his American counterpart to discuss the nuclear issue. Bartlet, believing this means Chigorin may not have supported the support to Iran, agrees to travel to Helsinki and meet the Russian president.