Russian loses bid to lead Interpol
• Interpol elected a South Korean as the organization’s president on Wednesday, edging out a veteran of Russia’s security services who was strongly opposed by the United States, Canada, Britain and other European nations.
Kim Jong Yang’s surprise election was seen as a victory for Washington and its European partners, who had lobbied up until the final hours before the vote against Alexander Prokopchuk’s bid to be named the policing organization’s next president.
The U.S. and others expressed concern that if Russia’s candidate had been elected, that would have led to further Kremlin abuses of Interpol’s red notice system to go after political opponents and fugitive dissidents.
Russia accused its critics of running a “campaign to discredit” its candidate, calling Prokopchuk a respected professional.
Groups campaigning to clean up Interpol celebrated the win, as did South Korea. South Korea’s police and Foreign Ministry issued a joint statement calling Kim’s election a “national triumph.”
Kim’s win also means he secured at least two-thirds of votes cast at Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai on Wednesday. Interpol does not release how member states voted or how many votes Kim received. He will serve until 2020, completing the four-year mandate 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, served as interim president after Meng’s detention and was also senior vice-president at Interpol.
Interpol had faced a pivotal moment in its history as delegates decided whether to hand its presidency to Prokopchuk or Kim, the only two candidates for the post.
Based in the French city of Lyon, the 95-year-old policing body is best known for issuing “red notices” that identify suspects pursued by other countries, effectively putting them on the world’s “most-wanted” list. Interpol’s rules prohibit the use of the notices for political reasons.
In 2016, Interpol introduced new measures aimed at strengthening the legal framework around the red notice system.
However, countries can issue requests — known as “diffusions” — that flag a person for arrest before Interpol reviews the notice, leading to what critics say is a major loophole.