South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang was elected as Interpol’s president on Wednesday, edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services who was strongly opposed by the U.S., Britain and other European nations.
Mr. Kim’s election was seen as a victory for the White House and its European partners, who had lobbied against Alexander Prokopchuk’s attempts to be named the next president of the policing organization.
The U.S. and others expressed concern that if Russia’s candidate had been elected, it would lead to further Kremlin abuses of Interpol’s red notice system to go after political opponents and fugitive dissidents.
Russia accused its critics of running a “campaign to discredit” their candidate, calling Mr. Prokopchuk a respected professional.
Mr. Kim’s win means he secured at least two-thirds of votes cast at Interpol’s general assembly in Dubai on Wednesday. He will serve until 2020, completing the four-year mandate of his predecessor, Meng Hongwei, who was detained in China as part of a wide anti-corruption sweep there.
Mr. Kim, a police official in South Korea, was serving as interim president after Mr. Meng’s departure from the post and was senior vice president at Interpol.
Russia’s Interior Ministry said after the vote that Mr. Prokopchuk, who is one of three vice presidents at Interpol, will continue his role in that position.
Most of Interpol’s 194 member-countries attended the organization’s annual assembly this year, which was held in an opulent Dubai hotel along the Persian Gulf coast.
Interpol was facing a pivotal moment in its history as delegates decided whether to hand its presidency to Mr. Prokopchuk or Mr. Kim, who were the only two candidates vying for the post.
Based in the French city of Lyon, the 95-year-old policing body is best known for issuing “red notices” that identify suspects pursued by other countries, effectively putting them on the world’s “most-wanted” list.