A South Korean official defeated a Russian official to lead INTERPOL for the next two years, coming as a relief to those who feared that a Kremlin-allied organization would further abuse Red Notice warrant power to go after critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Several U.S. senators spoke out against the expected election of Alexander Prokopchuk, a senior Russian Interior Ministry official, arguing it would be devastating to the rule of law.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also warned at the General Assembly in Dubai on Sunday that “no nation should exempt itself from just and reasonable law enforcement cooperation” and “no nation will be more prosperous, more secure, or more respected because it supports cybercriminals.”
INTERPOL nations elected by 101-61 votes Kim Jong Yang, who had been acting as INTERPOL’s interim president since the September disappearance of Meng Hongwei, detained by Chinese investigators. Russia complained that “unprecedented pressure and interference” ruined their bid to lead the organization.
“They disseminated information discrediting Prokopchuk’s dignity and reputation in order to prevent his election,” said Andrei Klimov, deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee. “We need to open [legal] cases and hound them with lawsuits.”
Kim, who previously served as head of police in South Korea’s Gyeonggi province, said after his victory that “our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety.”
“To overcome them, we need a clear vision: we need to build a bridge to the future,” Kim added.
Kim served as the organization’s vice president for Asia since 2015 and was head of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Seoul from 2011 to 2012. While the INTERPOL presidency is a four-year term, Kim will be serving the remaining two years of Meng’s term.
“Mr. Kim has many years’ experience of our governance and I look forward to working with him to give our membership the best possible support in this dynamic and changing global security environment,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), one of the members of the bipartisan Helsinki Commission who sounded the alarm about potential Russian leadership of the agency, said today she was “relieved” by the outcome.
“I’m also encouraged that the candidacy of Alexander Prokopchuk was rejected, preventing the Kremlin and other nations from further manipulating this law enforcement institution for their own purposes. Kremlin control would have allowed Putin to weaponize INTERPOL against his critics and political opponents even more, and would have made a mockery of this international law enforcement body,” she said. “Going forward, INTERPOL must push forward necessary reforms to prevent its members from continuing to abuse the red notice system and address such abuses when they occur. The election of Kim Jong Yang is an important step toward achieving this goal and upholding the fundamental value of rule of law, worldwide.”
INTERPOL members also elected six new delegates to the body’s 13-member executive committee: Néstor Roncaglia of Argentina as vice president for the Americas, Destino Pedro of Angola as delegate for Africa, Gilles Michaud of Canada as delegate for the Americas, Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi of the United Arab Emirates as delegate for Asia, Noboru Nakatani of Japan as delegate for Asia, and Jannine van den Berg of the Netherlands as delegate for Europe.
Kiribati and Vanuatu were also accepted as member nations into INTERPOL this session.