Interpol’s general assembly is voting to choose a new president at a meeting Wednesday in Dubai, with a member of Russia’s Interior Ministry considered the front-runner in the race.
Alexander Prokopchuk currently serves as one of Interpol’s vice presidents. Kremlin critics say putting Prokopchuk in charge of Interpol would politicize the organization.
Four U.S. Senators have called on the Trump administration to outright oppose Prokopchuk. They accuse him of being “personally involved” in what they call Russia’s routine “abuses of Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents, and journalists.”
Interpol presidents serve for a period of four years. The next president will replace China’s Meng Hongwei, who disappeared while visiting his native country in late September and was later said to be detained on bribery allegations.
South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang became Interpol’s acting leader, and on Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo strongly endorsed him to win the election.
“We encourage all nations and organizations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader of credibility and integrity that reflects one of the world’s most critical law enforcement bodies,” Pompeo said.
The Kremlin says opposition to a Russian candidate is election interference.
U.S.-born British fund manager and Kremlin critic Bill Browder, who has been the subject of several Interpol arrest warrants requested by Russia, says electing a Russian official to lead Interpol could intensify Russian government efforts to silence critics.
“This is a perfect way for Putin to basically breathe the fear of God into all of his enemies, so that they know they can’t even escape Russia if one of his guys is at the head of Interpol.”