Interpol Election 'a Real Humiliation for Putin'

Russian loses presidency to South Korean over concerns Moscow abuses red notices
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 21, 2018 6:38 AM CST
Interpol Election 'a Real Humiliation for Putin'
Alexander Prokopchuk, Russian Interior Ministry general who's currently an Interpol vice president. Kremlin foes including financier Bill Browder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Alexei Navalny have warned that naming a top Russian police official to the job would undermine Interpol.   (Russian Interior Ministry via AP)

(Newser) – South Korea's Kim Jong Yang was elected Interpol's president on Wednesday, reports the AP, edging out a longtime veteran of Russia's security services who was strongly opposed by the US, UK, and other European nations. Kim's surprise election was seen as a victory for the White House and its European partners, who had lobbied until the final hours against Alexander Prokopchuk; the BBC notes that a bipartisan group of US senators said electing Prokopchuk would be "akin to putting a fox in charge of the henhouse." Russia accused critics of running a "campaign to discredit" Prokopchuk. Critics say countries like Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and China use Interpol's red notice system to round up political opponents, journalists, or activists, even though its rules prohibit that.

The US and others expressed concern that the Russian's election would have led to further Kremlin abuses of the system. Groups working to clean up Interpol celebrated, as did South Korea—which called Kim's election a "national triumph." Financier and Kremlin critic Bill Browder, who says Russia used the diffusion system against him, celebrated the vote, saying, "This is a real humiliation for Putin, who thought he'd get away with it." Kim will serve until 2020, completing the four-year term of his predecessor, Meng Hongwei, who was detained in China as part of a wide anti-corruption sweep there. Kim, a police official in South Korea, was serving as interim president after Meng's departure. Russia's Interior Ministry said after the vote that Prokopchuk, who is one of three vice presidents at Interpol, will remain in that position.

(Read more Interpol stories.)

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