Mitya Aleshkovsky / Flickr Vladimir Putin...
Mitya Aleshkovsky / Flickr

On Wednesday, Interpol will elect a new head of the international law enforcement agency. Bill Browder, who famously earned the ire of Putin for exposing the Russian government’s corruption and working with John McCain to get the Magnitsky Act written and passed, sounded the alarm over the potential for a Russian to become the agency’s new head in elections on Wednesday.

A Russian….as head of Interpol….let that sink in. Putin’s mafia thugs able to use the police in other countries to arrest enemies and bring them to Russia for trial and incarceration. Or worse. Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who worked with Browder to expose the extent of Russia’s state-sponsored corruption. He was arrested, tortured for months, and left to die (while handcuffed) due to lack of medical care.

According to Bill Browder’s Op-Ed in the Washington Post, there’s some weird sh*t going on at Interpol:

Early last month, the wife of Meng Hongwei, a Chinese national and the president of Interpol, reported that her husband had disappeared on a trip to China. Three days passed before the Chinese government admitted detaining him and placing him under investigation. Following that, Interpol received a notice of Meng’s resignation. Whether he wrote it or not is unknown.

Last Saturday, news began circulating that a Russian official is the front-runner to replace Meng as president of Interpol. At first, I thought this must be a joke. Russia has demonstrated some of the most criminal tendencies of any country in the world. Its agents used a military-grade chemical weapon in an attack in Salisbury in Britain. Russian missiles murdered 298 innocents on Flight MH17 over Ukraine. And the Kremlin’s operatives have interfered with elections in the United States and Europe. Russia shouldn’t even be on the list of countries that could provide a leader for Interpol.

Later this week, Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai will decide who becomes Interpol’s next president. The vote will take place on Wednesday, and the choice is between the Russian interior ministry officer Alexander Prokopchuk and Interpol’s current interim president, a South Korean named Kim Jong Yang.

Canada has recently joined the United States in enacting its version of the Magnitsky Act. As nations pile on to enforce the Magnitsky Act globally, Putin and his cronies get more brazen. They recently have accused Browder of ordering the death of Magnitsky himself, a ridiculous claim given that Magnitsky was in a Russian jail at the time of his death.

While Interpol’s president is somewhat of a ceremonial position, there are causes for concern. According to Danica Kirka and Angela Charlton of the Washington Post:

Interpol itself won’t comment on the upcoming vote. The Interpol presidency is more of a ceremonial position compared to the hands-on leadership role of the secretary-general. The president oversees the executive committee, which meets a few times a year and makes decisions on Interpol’s strategy and direction.

Interpol’s charter explicitly proclaims its neutrality, and two years ago it introduced measures aimed at strengthening the legal framework around the red notice system. As part of the changes, an international team of lawyers and experts first check a notice’s compliance with Interpol rules and regulations before it goes out.

But the potential of a Putin loyalist in such a prominent role has prompted concern among those critical of the Russian president’s leadership. Four U.S. senators, including Marco Rubio, have urged U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to oppose the Prokopchuk candidacy.

This is worth keeping an eye on. If Alexander Prokopchuk – a general in the Russian Interior Ministry – is allowed to become the head of Interpol, the long arm of the law just got a lot more dangerous and corrupt.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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