The Latest: Interpol chief: Neutrality key to organization
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Latest on the election of Interpol’s next president (all times local):
Interpol’s Secretary General Jurgen Stock says the nationality of the policing organization’s president does not affect its neutrality.
Stock spoke on Wednesday after member states voted to elect South Korea’s delegate, Kim Jong Yang, as Interpol’s new president.
The selection edged out Russia’s attempt to put forth one of its own for the presidency. Interpol has faced intense criticism that countries like Russia have abused Interpol’s system to go after fugitive dissidents.
Stock told reporters after the conclusion of Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that “it is fundamental to Interpol’s existence that we are neutral and that we are independent.”
Addressing what he said was misinformation circulating in recent days, Stock said Interpol accepts “the fact that systems can be improved” but added this year alone the red notice and diffusion system helped lead to the arrest of 10,000 serious criminals.
Germany is congratulating the newly elected president of Interpol and warning against politicizing the global police cooperation agency.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said Berlin is “convinced that Kim Jong Yang is a good choice” and pointed to a “clear election result” in his favor. Kim defeated Alexander Prokopchuk, a veteran of Russia’s security services, in Wednesday’s vote.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the priority for the new president should be ensuring “stability and continuity” in Interpol’s work after his Chinese predecessor’s abrupt departure.
Seehofer said in a statement that “all tendencies to politicize the organization and its work should be counteracted.”
The Kremlin says it regrets that the Russian candidate for Interpol president has lost the vote but says it accepts the election results.
Tensions were high around Wednesday’s vote which elected South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang as chief of the international law enforcement agency.
The United States, some countries in the West and Kremlin critics were warning that the Russian candidate, Alexander Prokopchuk, might help the Russian government to use the organization to go after its opponents.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters on Wednesday that the Kremlin “regrets” that Prokopchuk has lost the vote but he said that Moscow “has not reason to dispute the results.”
Peskov added that the Kremlin was sad to see that the election was held in what he described as “an environment of unprecedented pressure.”
Kremlin critic Bill Browder says common sense has prevailed with Interpol’s decision to bypass a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services and choose a South Korean as its new president.
Browder spoke out against Alexander Prokopchuk’s candidacy, saying it would intensify President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to use Interpol to hunt down critics, undermining the international law enforcement agency.
Russia denies accusations of foreign interference and announced new charges against Browder this week in a long-running legal battle against him. Browder says the charges were a “gift” to those trying to block a Russian presidency because it focused attention on the vote.
Browder told The Associated Press on Wednesday that “Common sense has prevailed in a dark world. This is a real humiliation for Putin, who thought he’d get away with it.”
Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who warned about the Russian candidate for the Interpol presidency, is hailing the election of the South Korean nominee as a victory.
Khodorkovsky, who spent 10 years in a Russian prison on charges viewed as politically motivated, had warned that the Kremlin could use Interpol to go after its opponents if Alexander Prokopchuk was elected.
Khodorkovsky said in a tweet on Wednesday that the election results were a “common victory.”
Khodorkovsky said that “common sense has prevailed. The Kremlin was trying to get their man in — the one that has been helping the authorities for many years to persecute their opponents.”
1: 20 p.m.
South Korea’s president says he’s “very proud” of the fact that fellow national Kim Jong Yang has been elected as Interpol’s next president.
President Moon Jae-in tweeted from Seoul on Wednesday that Kim is the first South Korean chosen to that top Interpol post.
Moon said he’s sending a congratulatory message to Kim along with all South Koreans.
South Korea’s police and foreign ministry issued a joint statement saying Kim is an international specialist with “great leadership” and “a vast human network.”
The statement quoted Kim as saying that his election is a “national triumph” that he expects to elevate South Korea’s international standing and role.
The spokeswoman for the Russian interior ministry says that the Russian candidate for Interpol president who lost the election will continue to work as the international law enforcement body’s vice president.
Russian police official Alexander Prokopchuk, who was opposed by the U.S., Britain and other European nations, lost the vote Wednesday to Kim Jong Yang from South Korea.
Irina Volk told the Interfax news agency that Prokopchuk will retain his position and continue to “focus on advancing the stature of Interpol in the international police community and making its work more effective.”
Kim 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.
The Ukrainian interior minister is calling the election of a South Korean candidate to lead Interpol a victory for his country.
Ukraine, along with Western nations and Russian opposition figures, staunchly opposed a Russian police official who was also in the running for president of the international law enforcement body. Kremlin critics raised the alarm about the Russian candidate, Alexander Prokopchuk, fearing that he could encourage abuse of Interpol’s warrant system.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov tweeted Wednesday from the conference room where the vote was held, saying “The Russian candidate has been rejected. This battle is won!”
South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang has been elected as Interpol’s next president, edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services who was strongly opposed by the U.S., Britain and other European nations.
The White House and its European partners had lobbied against Alexander Prokopchuk’s attempts to be named the next president of the policing organization, saying his election would lead to further Russian abuses of Interpol’s red notice system to go after political opponents.
Prokopchuk is a general in the Russian Interior Ministry and serves as an Interpol vice president.
Kim’s win means he secured at least two-thirds of votes cast at Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai on Wednesday. He will serve until 2020, completing the four-year mandate of his predecessor, Meng Hongwei, who was detained in China.