We have less than 24 hours to prevent Russia taking Presidency of Interpol. I write for the Huffington Post on why it would be a failure for Britain’s diplomatic community.
As the Interpol General Assembly sits today, there is a high risk that Interpol will elect a Russian official to lead the organisation.
This would be a victory for Russian diplomacy and pressure/influence, and distinctly concerning for all others.
Russia already attempts to abuse Interpol to arrest political opponents and those who expose Russian state wrongdoing - like Bill Browder. Their candidate to head up Interpol is Alexander Prokopchuk, who is responsible for Russia’s regular abuse of Interpol to hunt down opponents.
It’s worth remembering at this point - because the world appears to have gone silent - that the presidency of Interpol is only vacant because the former President, Meng Hongwei, disappeared. He was secretly arrested by the Chinese government, the details around which remain vague. Interpol reportedly accepted an unsigned resignation letter from the currently detained former President Mr Meng, which was delivered by the Chinese Govt. Whilst China has also removed him as a delegate to Interpol, which automatically removes his ability to be President, surely an int’l police force should seek to investigate and secure due process for their President, and keep Mr Stock as interim President until that is concluded.
With Russia leading Interpol, what hope would there be for fairness and rule of law at the heart of this important security instrument?
Only a few months ago Britain protected Bill Browder - whose steadfast work has resulted in the creation of Magnitsky acts in countries across the world - when he was detained by the Spanish under an Interpol warrant the Russians had put in place. His crime? Exposing corruption at the heart of the Russian state and criminality in the pursuit of Russian interests abroad.
We must ask, if Interpol members choose to elect Russia to the Presidency of an international policing force following its ongoing abuse of the system, the Salisbury attack and its flagrant disregard for international norms and values, how have our diplomatic efforts failed so utterly? That we would have failed, and indeed even need, to influence member states to recognise that Russia is not fit to police the world?
We must all hope that alongside upholding and respecting international security and stability, that decency and common sense prevails, & that the Russian Government is not able to lever malign influence over member states to secure the Presidency of #Interpol.
The vote is on Wednesday.
We wait and watch.