On 21 November the annual General Assembly of 192 member states of Interpol, under way in Dubai, is going to elect the new President who will be the head of the executive committee, the body in charge of the policies and the direction that the organization takes. The appointment is due after the disappearance of former Interpol President, the Chinese Meng Hongwei.
The likelihood of Hongwei’s successor being russian Alexander Prokopchuk, currently Vice President of Interpol and head of the office of the Deputy Interior Ministry of Russia, raises concerns. In fact, the Russian Federation is accused of misusing the organization and in particular of abusing the “Red Notice”, the red alert system with which the recipients of this measure are reported and arrested.
Laura Harth spoke on Radio Radicale with Bill Browder, a British financier who worked for many years in Russia, where he suffered and reported the abuses and violations inflicted on him and his team at the highest levels of Russian society. Browder is also the initiator of the Global Magnitsky Act and author of the book “Red Notice”.
Laura Harth: Mr. Browder, how do you judge the possible appointment of Alexander Prokopchuk as Interpol?
Bill Browder: This man has specifically been involved in abusing Interpol in order to achieve Russia’s political attacks on me and other people who have been critics of Vladimir Putin. Russia has gone to Interpol seven times now to have me arrested and Interpol in the last six times have rejected it as being illegitimately and politically motivated. The most recent application to Interpol was just this morning when they came up with new charges against me. If one is to let Mr. Alexander Prokopchuk become President of Interpol, it’s basically like putting the mafia in charge of the most important crime-fighting organization in the world.
What do you expect for the future?
Well, one of two things is going to happen. If a Russian takes over Interpol it will effectively ruin the credibility of Interpol and what this will lead to eventually is the formation of some type of new international law enforcement organization just consisting of rule of law countries. Because you cannot have authoritarians and dictators using and abusing Interpol as a way of going after their enemies. Interpol cannot become a criminal organization. It has to maintain its legitimacy. In theory almost any country cooperates because the assumption is that Interpol is legitimate. The guys at the border who are wearing a uniform can be looking at every Interpol notice and wondering whether it is legitimate or not. They have to assume it is legitimate. But if an illegitimate request come through then all of a sudden real crime fighting gets destroyed becase nobody knows which requests are real criminals and fugitives and which ones are enemies of some kind of dictator.
Is there any particular message you would like to convey?
Very shortly my piece will come out in the Washington Post where I’m calling all freedom-loving countries to make sure that this gangster from Russia does not get elected.