Russia denounces Interpol vote with claims of meddling

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 21.11.2018 21:56
Updated 22.11.2018 00:08

The Kremlin said yesterday that clear outside pressure had been exerted on a vote to elect a new head of Interpol, but that it did not see any factors that would render the election illegitimate, Russian news agencies reported. International police body Interpol elected Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as its president for a two-year term yesterday, beating a Russian national, Alexander Prokopchuk whose candidacy raised concerns in the West about the risk of Kremlin interference.

"Of course we are sorry our candidate has not won," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russian news agencies reported. "Strong pressure was exerted if you impartially look at a number of statements from a number of countries on the eve of the vote."

Senior members of Russia's parliament also reacted to their candidate losing the election by making accusations of vote meddling. The head of the lower house of parliament's foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, suggested that "opponents of Russia who were not shy about making explicit appeals ... exerted their influence on the mechanics of the election," state media reported.

Ukraine, whose relations with neighboring Russia are at an all-time low, welcomed the Russian's defeat. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Twitter: "This battle is won. Thank you all! Glory to Ukraine!"

Interpol's 194 member states, met in Dubai for their annual congress, elected Kim to succeed China's Meng Hongwei, who disappeared in September and later resigned after Chinese authorities said he was being investigated for suspected bribery. Interpol said on Twitter that Kim, who had been serving as acting president, had been elected for a two-year term. The presidency, a largely ceremonial role, is typically held for four years. It is the secretary general that directs Interpol's day-to-day work. Germany's Juergen Stock was elected to the post in 2014 for a five-year term. Composed of delegates from each member state, the General Assembly takes all major decisions, including those involving finances.

One of the main roles of Interpol, which does not issue its own arrest warrants or carry out its own investigations, is issuing notices requesting cooperation from its members. Of the eight grades of alert the most important is the Red Notice, which informs members about a criminal wanted in one country and who may be in another. It is based on a national arrest warrant and any arrest is carried out by police in the country concerned, at their discretion and without Interpol influence. A Blue Notice seeks to collect information about a person in relation to a crime, while the Black Notice seeks to identify dead bodies. The Special Notice was created in 2005 for individuals subject to U.N. Security Council sanctions, such as asset freezes or travel bans. Only about 30 percent of Interpol's notices are made public.

Interpol also provides its member countries with access to various databases that contain millions of criminal and other records. One lists more than 205,000 records of known international criminals, missing persons and dead bodies, according to figures on the agency's site from December 2017. There is a database containing around 172,000 DNA profiles from 83 countries, and another with more than 182,000 sets of fingerprints.

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