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Interpol elects Kim Jong Yang as president over controversial Russian nominee

By Clyde Hughes
Interpol elects Kim Jong Yang as president over controversial Russian nominee
Interpol elected Kim Jong Yang Wednesday as its permanent president to serve out the remainder of Meng Hongwei's term. Photo by Wallace Woon/EPA

Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Interpol on Wednesday elected Kim Jong Yang of South Korea as its new president, thwarting the efforts of Russia to win the seat with its own candidate.

Kim became acting president last month after Meng Hongwei, who had two years left on a four-year term, resigned after Chinese officials charged that he was being investigated for corruption.

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Many believed that former Russian interior ministry official Alexander Prokopchuk would win the post but critics, including four sitting U.S. senators, complained that Moscow would use the post to go after its political opponents.

"Our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety," Kim said in a statement after the vote in Dubai at the agency's general assembly Wednesday.

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"To overcome them, we need a clear vision: we need to build a bridge to the future."

U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Marco Rubio of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire and Chris Coons of Delaware called on President Donald Trump and other countries to reject Prokopchuk's candidacy in a joint statement Monday.

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"Interpol electing Maj. Gen. Alexander Prokopchuk as its new President is akin to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse," the senators wrote in a statement. "Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents and journalists."

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Their statement led to charges from the Kremlin that the United States was attempting to meddle in the election.

Criticism also came from critics of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny charged that his followers had "suffered from abuse of Interpol for political persecution by Russia," CNN reported.

Interpol said Kim had served as its vice president for Asia since 2015 and led the organization's National Central Bureau in Seoul from 2011 to 2012.

"Mr. Kim has many years' experience of our governance and I look forward to working with him to give our membership the best possible support in this dynamic and changing global security environment," Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock, who runs the organization's daily operations, said in a statement.

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