In what are signs of further alienation of Russia from the international order dominated by Western countries, Moscow’s candidate for heading the Interpol has been defeated in what can only be called as a surprise loss.
Alexander Prokopchuk, a former general with Russia’s interior ministry was widely considered the front-runner for the post as he has been one of Interpol's four vice-presidents.
However, Interpol’s acting chief South Korean Kim Jong-yang won the election. The candidates were voted on by Interpol's 194 member states at a meeting of its annual congress in Dubai. The South Korean candidate received a late boost by the US and UK before the voting day as they worked to oppose Prokopchuk’s election. Both the UK foreign office and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threw their weight behind Kim Jong-yang's candidacy.
Kim, beat Prokopchuk by 101 votes to 61 at Interpol's General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, according to media reports.
There had been growing concern among certain countries that Moscow would use Prokopchuk’s elevation to the position as president to target the country’s political opponents. According to the BBC, Prokopchuk as Interpol's Moscow bureau chief, had been accused of abusing the international law-enforcement agency’s red notice system - international arrest warrants - to target those who were critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has slammed the result and blamed the outcome of the voting on "unprecedented pressure and interference". Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov while speaking to TASS news agency said, “Of course, it is a pity that our candidate did not win. On the other hand, if we look at some statements from a number of countries on the eve of the election impartially, of course, the pressure was huge, that’s obvious," he added.
Kim, 57 will serve as president for the remainder of the current mandate a term of almost two years, until 2020. This election came about after the previous Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, vanished on a trip to his home country China in September. He resigned in absentia after Beijing confirmed that he had been detained over corruption charges.