Russia denounces Western ‘interference’ in Interpol leadership vote

  • President Putin’s spokesman slams ‘vivid example’ of US meddling after American senators objected to Russian becoming head of agency
  • At general assembly meeting in Dubai, agency also rejected Kosovo’s bid for membership
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 8:01pm

The Kremlin on Tuesday denounced “interference” in the election for a new Interpol president after critics including US senators objected to a Russian becoming chief of the global police body.

“This is interference in the election process of sorts, in the election to an international organisation,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on a statement from several US senators. “What else can you call it? This is a vivid example.”

Delegates from Interpol member countries will vote on Wednesday to elect the next president of the France-based body, at a general assembly in Dubai.

A growing chorus of Western critics is calling on Interpol to reject a Russian interior ministry official, Alexander Prokopchuk, to lead the organisation, over fears Moscow could abuse the presidency to target political opponents.

Current Interpol vice-president Prokopchuk is seen as the favourite for the position.

In a statement on Monday, US senators Jeanne Shaheen, Roger Wicker, Chris Coons and Marco Rubio urged members of Interpol’s General Assembly to reject Prokopchuk’s candidacy.

“Interpol electing Major General Alexander Prokopchuk as its new president is akin to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse,” they insisted. “Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents and journalists.”

The group claimed Prokopchuk has been “personally involved in this intimidation strategy”.

The other candidate is South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang, who has been acting president since former head Meng Hongwei went missing in his native China last month.

Beijing later informed Interpol that Meng had resigned as director after being charged with accepting bribes.

Also on Tuesday, Interpol rejected Kosovo’s membership bid.

Serbia had been lobbying against Kosovo’s entry into Interpol as it does not recognise the country’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. Serbia’s Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic tweeted “victory” from the general assembly meeting in Dubai.

Kosovo needed two-thirds of votes cast to be approved for full membership. The body, instead, approved new member countries Kiribati and Vanuatu to join Interpol, brining global membership to 194 countries.

Additional reporting by Associated Press