Russian interior ministry veteran is named as likely candidate to become Interpol head sparking fears Moscow will use agency to target political foes
- Alexander Prokopchuk named as likely successor to missing Hongwei Meng
- Concerns major general will use Interpol to pursue Russia’s political enemies
- Controversial Interpol ‘red notices’ issued to four opponents of Vladimir Putin
- Putin critic Bill Browder likened appointment to Nazi Germany’s use of agency
A Russian interior ministry official is said to be in line to become the next head of international policing agency, Interpol.
Major General Alexander Prokopchuk was named as the likely successor to former president, Hongwei Meng, who was arrested by Chinese authorities over alleged corruption.
He is currently the chief of the Russian Interior Ministry’s National Central Bureau of Interpol, a post he has held for the past two years and is also the vice-president of the agency – the first Russian to ever hold the post.
The potential appointment would increase concerns already levelled at Moscow that Russia has been using the international policing agency to target political opponents.
The Kremlin has been accused of trying to use Interpol’s international arrest warrant system of ‘red notices’, to stop political opponents travelling and freeze their bank accounts so they can be extradited back to Russia.
Chief of the Russian Interior Ministry’s National Central Bureau of Interpol, Major General Alexander Prokopchuk, has been named the likely successor of Hongwei Meng as head of the policing agency
Opponents such as US businessman and Vladimir Putin critic, Bill Browder, journalist and environment activist, Petr Silaev, Chechen exiled opposition leader Akhmed Zakayev and anti-corruption activist Nikita Kulachenkov has all been detained under these notices.
Similar notices have also been issued under a British request for the Russian agents accused of poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury – Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga.
Today Browder, who claims Russia has used Interpol six times to abuse him, compared the appointment to Nazi Germany’s control of the agency in the 1930s.
He tweeted: ‘Russian tipped to take over Interpol in Kremlin victory. This is absolutely astonishing, but not without precedent. Nazi Germany took over Interpol in the 1930’s.’
Meng was missing for several days last month before the Chinese authorities confirmed he had been detained over bribery allegations.
Russia’s use of Interpol ‘red notices’ has been questioned after US businessman and Vladimir Putin critic, Bill Browder (left) and Chechen exiled envoy Akhmed Zakayev (right) have been detained under the controversial warrants
The potential appointment of Alexander Prokopchuk has increased concerns that Russia has been using the international policing agency to target political opponents
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A letter of resignation, purporting to come from Meng, was later sent to Interpol informing it of his decision to step down as president.
His wife, Grace, who is in hiding in France, revealed he sent her a text message with a knife emoji on the day he went missing and she remains ‘extremely’ concerned about his safety.
Her husband, whose whereabouts are still unknown, is the latest high-profile target to be ensnared in China’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign as Interpol was accused of colluding with Russia over his detention.
Prokopchuk, who has had a long career at the interior ministry and was promoted to major general of police in 2011, is thought to be one of only two candidates in for the top job at the global crime agency.
The other front-runner is said to be the acting head of Interpol, Kim Jong Yang, of South Korea, the Times reports.
Former Interpol President Meng Hongwei is still missing after he was detained by Chinese authorities on bribery allegations and he stepped down as boss of the agency
British government officials say Prokopchuk is likely to win next week’s election and are concerned as the Russian interior ministry made many controversial requests for red notice during his tenure as one of four vice-presidents of Interpol.
David Clark, a former foreign office special adviser, told the Times: ‘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.’
Elections of the head of the organisation are scheduled for next Wednesday in Dubai.
Before the election, the agency will request a full report of the country which citizen is the candidate for the post of president of Interpol.
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