Despite concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin has used Interpol to target his political adversaries, a Russian official looks likely to take over as head of the international policing agency, according to The Times.
> British officials expect Alexander Prokopchuk, 56, a veteran of Russia’s interior ministry, to be elected as the next Interpol president next week. The election follows the disappearance of Meng Hongwei, the president who resigned last month and is being investigated by China’s anti-corruption authorities.
> Mr Prokopchuk’s appointment would represent a significant victory for the Kremlin after criticism of the Russian state for abusing the agency’s “red notice” system.
> Russia has been accused of trying to obtain red notices, which are effectively international arrest warrants, against political opponents to restrict their ability to travel or secure their extradition. Subjects of red notices risk arrest in Interpol’s member countries and can have their assets frozen.
Notably, American businessman and Putin critic Bill Browder was arrested in Spain earlier this year under a Russian arrest warrant. Browder reportedly claimed he fell victim to a Russian red notice. Though Interpol denied this was the case, Spanish authorities indicated the arrest was due to an expired warrant that went undeleted in the Interpol system.
> British officials believe that Mr Prokopchuk, who is one of only two confirmed candidates for the presidency, has unstoppable momentum before Wednesday’s election. The UK government has calculated that Mr Prokopchuk will win and that there is no point in trying to stop him, according to a Whitehall official. A source close to Interpol said that Mr Prokopchuk was the frontrunner. Each member country sending delegates to the general assembly in Dubai will get a vote. The other confirmed candidate is Kim Jong Yang, a South Korean who is the acting head of Interpol. South Africa is also thought to be planning to nominate a candidate.
> David Clark, a former foreign office special adviser, said that the interior ministry had been responsible for many controversial red notice requests during Mr Prokopchuk’s time. “Mr Prokopchuk is a problem because he was the person in the Russian interior ministry who was responsible for concocting many of these fabricated red notice requests when he was a Russian government official,” he said.