Kim Jong-yang defeats Russian Alexander Prokopchuk, who was opposed by US and others over fears Moscow could abuse role
South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang has been elected as Interpol’s next president, edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services who was strongly opposed by the US, Britain and other European nations. The White House and its European partners had lobbied against Alexander Prokopchuk’s attempts to be named the next president of the international police policing body, saying his election would lead to further Russian abuses of Interpol’s “red notice” system to go after political opponents. Prokopchuk is a general in the Russian interior ministry and serves as an Interpol vice-president. Kim was chosen by Interpol’s 94-member states at a meeting of its annual congress in Dubai. He will serve until 2020, completing the four-year mandate of his predecessor, Meng Hongwei, who went missing in his native China in September. Beijing later said Meng resigned after being charged with accepting bribes. Advertisement Critics say that Prokopchuk oversaw a policy of systematically targeting critics and dissidents during his time in charge of the Russian office of Interpol. On Tuesday, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, threw his weight behind Kim, who is the acting president of the global police body. “We encourage all nations and organisations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader with integrity. We believe Mr Kim will be just that,” Pompeo told reporters.
Bill Browder, a British-American financier who has campaigned for western countries to implement sanctions against Russian officials accused of human rights abuses, said on Tuesday that Prokopchuk had been in charge of Russia’s Interpol bureau at a time when Moscow repeatedly tried to have red notice arrest warrants issued for him through the organisation. The central Interpol body rescinded the warrants, believing them to be politically motivated.Marina Litvinenko, the widow of poisoned dissident Alexander Litvinenko, told the BBC’s Newsnight programme on Tuesday night that having a Russian as president of Interpol would lead to abuse of the red notice system. “Everybody who is asking for political asylum here in the UK now will not feel safe at all,” she said.“There is probably no more inappropriate person than this person and there’s no more inappropriate country to have any kind of leadership position at Interpol than Russia,” said Browder at a press conference in London.British officials have made it clear that they are backing Yang, and have expressed alarm at the prospect of Prokopchuk taking over. Lithuania’s parliament voted unanimously on Tuesday to consider leaving Interpol if Prokopchuk had won the vote.Interpol’s president chairs its general assembly while day-to-day operations are handled by the organisation’s secretary general, Jürgen Stock.Associated Press contributed to this reportWe have some news …… three years ago, we knew we had to try to make The Guardian sustainable by deepening our relationship with our readers. The revenues from our newspaper had diminished and the technologies that connected us with a global audience had moved advertising money away from news organisations. We knew we needed to find a way to keep our journalism open and accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.And so, we have an update for you on some good news. Thanks to all the readers who have supported our independent, investigative journalism through contributions, membership or subscriptions, we are starting to overcome the urgent financial situation we were faced with. Today we have been supported by more than a million readers around the world. Our future is starting to look brighter. But we have to maintain and build on that level of support for every year to come, which means we still need to ask for your help.Ongoing financial support from our readers means we can continue pursuing difficult stories in the challenging times we are living through, when factual reporting has never been more critical. The Guardian is editorially independent – our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. This is important because it enables us to challenge the powerful and hold them to account. With your support, we can continue bringing The Guardian’s independent journalism to the world.