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Gardner opposed Russian leading Interpol; agency picks South Korean

Author: Joey Bunch - November 21, 2018 - Updated: November 21, 2018

Alexander ProkopchukThis undated official photo taken from the Russian Interior Ministry web site shows Alexander Prokopchuk, the Russian Interior Ministry general who’s currently an Interpol vice president. (Russian Interior Ministry via AP)

UPDATE 11/21: Interpol’s general assembly elected South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang as their new president on Wednesday, rejecting a Russian candidate opposed by the U.S. Details here from the AP.

Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner added his voice — and credentials — to the argument against Russian Gen. Alexander Prokopchuk becoming president of Interpol.

The Republican from Yuma joined other U.S. senators who called it a mistake to put a Russian official in charge of the International Criminal Police Organization, the police force cooperates and shares intelligence among 194 countries to find fugitives and missing people.

Human rights activists said the big win for Russia would allow the country to punish political enemies.

Gardner is a member of two key related committees: the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (called the Helsinki Commission). Gardner has also  been a vocal and wary critic of Russia in the past.

He and Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland who also sits on both groups, released a joint statement Tuesday afternoon calling Prokopchuk’s new role “unconscionable.”

“The Kremlin has ordered and executed extrajudicial killings abroad and has used chemical weapons on the soil of a NATO ally,” they stated. “To allow a tool of Vladimir Putin to run Interpol would undermine international law and invite further Russian abuses.”

Gardner and Cardin called on the Trump administration “to take every appropriate step to prevent the Kremlin from taking over this important organization and renew our call for the State Department to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism under U.S. law.”

In April, Gardner introduced a bill to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Cardin is the author of the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act — called simply the Magnitsky Act — that has sanctioned Russia for human rights violations. He also was a backer of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act last year to sanction Iran, North Korea and Russia for abuses.



Editor’s note: This story was corrected to say Cardin, not Gardner, authored the Magnitsky Act.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.