CNN cited an unnamed aide to US Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Tuesday as saying that his office was working with the US Justice Department and State Department to lobby Interpol member states against voting for the Russian candidate, Maj. Gen. Alexander Prokopchuk as the agency’s next president.
In a separate development, UK Foreign Office minister Harriet Baldwin also backed the candidacy of Kim Jong Yang, while Sir Vince Cable, a Liberal Democrat leader, claimed that if Prokopchuk, who is currently serving as Interpol’s vice president for Europe, was elected, the agency risked becoming a ‘branch of the Russian mafia’.
“We do not speculate on the outcome of the election, but the UK supports the candidacy of acting president Kim Jong Yang,” Baldwin said.
Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, asked Baldwin what Prokopchuk’s win would mean for the agency’s future, “for the continued abuse of the arrest warrant system and for Britain’s continued participation in Interpol”:
”The question is: what diplomatic efforts will she be making in the next 24 hours, particularly in respect of our European and Commonwealth counterparts to build a majority against the election of the Russian candidate?” she added.
Other member states, such as Ukraine and Lithuania, threatened to pull out of Interpol if Prokopchuk was elected, with a resolution adopted by the Lithuanian parliament urging ‘other democratic states’ to follow suit.
In a Monday letter to the Trump administration, a bipartisan group of US senators wrote that electing Prokopchuk would be akin ‘putting a fox in charge of a henhouse’, and claimed that Russia would abuse its control over the agency. They also urged the current administration to make sure that the Russian candidate doesn’t win.
Russia’s Interior Ministry spokesman Irina Volk, for her part, accused foreign media of running a smear campaign against Prokopchuk, adding that politicising Interpol was ‘unacceptable’.
The election of the international organisation’s next president is set to be held on Wednesday at Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai.