A Vladimir Putin critic pursued by the Kremlin is among those celebrating after a Russian official failed, amid widespread concerns, to win a vote to be Interpol’s president.
The British Government joined opposition of the potential election of Russian interior ministry veteran Alexander Prokopchuk on Wednesday, but he suffered a surprise loss to the South Korean candidate.
Critics of Moscow’s man feared a “mafia” takeover would see Interpol act at the behest of the Russian president, with the police network’s “red notices” used to pursue his foes.
Bill Browder, a British financier who has long battled Mr Putin and has been the subject of arrest warrants, said that “reason prevails in this dark world”, after Kim Jong Yang was chosen by Interpol’s general assembly.
“This is a real humiliation for Putin and a huge sigh of relief for anybody who is at odds with Putin,” 54-year-old Mr Browder, of London, added to the Press Association.
“The idea that Russia would be in charge of the international police organisations is one of the most horrifying things anyone can imagine, but particularly so for anyone who is being targeted by the Kremlin.”
But he vowed to keep up his fight to get “serial abuser” Russia suspended from Interpol with a legal complaint to the agency over its use of red notices, requests for arrests abroad based on national warrants.
UK politicians also welcomed the election, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying it was “very important news for rule of law internationally”.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the result was a “relief”, but added that Mr Prokopchuk’s position as an Interpol vice-president remains “an insult” to the victims of the Salisbury Novichok poisonings, which have been blamed on Russia.
Interpol’s charter states its neutrality, but its use of red notices has at times been criticised as politically motivated.
The agency stressed the president is not in charge of day-to-day operations as head of the organisation, a position held by its secretary general.
The latest election was sparked after previous Interpol president Meng Hongwei was arrested in China during a purge against allegedly disloyal or corrupt officials.