Interpol ignores Russia, picks South Korean to lead agency

Interpol, the world’s largest police organization, chose its next leader at its annual meeting in Dubai Wednesday, selecting South Korean Kim Jong-yang.

Mr. Kim, who currently serves as the agency’s temporary president, served the South Korean National Police Agency (KPMA) for over 20 years before his 2015 retirement.

Kim, 57, was appointed interim head of the agency following the October arrest of Meng Hongwei, who was jailed by China on suspicion of graft.

The choice of Kim to lead the agency came as a result of delegates from member nations electing him over Russia’s Alexander Prokopchuk.  Kim defeated Prokopchuk by a vote of 101–61.

One of four sitting vice presidents of the agency, Prokopchuk’s defeat came as the result of intense lobbying efforts by the West, and members of the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Prokopchuk, who had previously served as a Russian police general with the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, was handed a loss over fears his rise with the global police organization would result in his use of the agency to target Kremlin critics.

Opponents of Prokopchuk claim as head of Moscow’s Interpol bureau, he misused the position to issue an extravagant number of “red cards,” or international arrest warrants against Kremlin opponents, dissidents and journalists.

In an open letter this week, members of the U.S. Senate declared electing Prokopchuk would be akin to “putting a fox in charge of a henhouse.”

Moscow denied the comparison and stated after Prokopchuk was passed over for the position, he would continue to serve in his vice-presidential post.

Outside of U.S. opposition, Interpol member state, Ukraine, had threatened to withdraw from the organization if Prokopchuk had been elevated to the presidency.

Canadian lawmakers have also launched an investigation of Russia’s alleged Interpol abuses, summoning the testimony of Kremlin dissidents who claim to have been targets of Moscow via the international police agency and are calling for the suspension of Russia from Interpol.

“Russian courts are regularly used to fabricate charges and convictions against regime critics and opposition leaders and if they live abroad, as so many of us have been forced to do, Interpol is often being used to persecute them and it happens many times,” said Russian chess grandmaster and political activist, Garry Kasparnov.

A largely ceremonial position, Mr. Kim will chair the agency’s general assembly; the day-to-day operations of the global law-enforcement institution are managed by Secretary General Jurgen Stock.

An organization established in 1923, Interpol boasts 194 members states.

 

[BBC] [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] [Globe and Mail] [Photo courtesy AFP/Reuters]

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