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.


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