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South Korean veteran cop elected president of Interpol, beating out Russian general front-runner

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South Korea's Kim Jong Yang has been elected president of Interpol, beating out front-runner Russian Maj. Gen. Alexander Prokopchuk. Kim has been serving as interim president since former head Meng Hongwei was forced to resign by his home country of China last month. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

South Korean veteran police officer Kim Jong Yang was elected to serve as president of the international police agency, Interpol, on Wednesday, beating out Russian front-runner Maj. Gen. Alexander Prokopchuk for the top spot.

What are the details?

Kim has been serving as interim president since former head Meng Hongwei was forced to resign by his home country of China last month. Beijing has admitted to detaining Meng, but his current whereabouts are unknown.

The election was held in a closed session in Dubai, where delegates from 180 (of 192) member nations gathered to vote on who would become Meng's replacement through the end of his would-be term until 2020. According to the New York Times, a two-thirds majority is required for selecting Interpol's leader, and no country has veto power.

European and American officials expressed concern on Tuesday, after reports emerged that Prokopchuk was considered the favorite in succeeding Meng. Accusing the Kremlin of systemically abusing international police powers, four U.S. senators urged the Trump administration to oppose Prokopchuk's candidacy, saying, "Interpol electing Major General Alexander Prokopchuk as its new President is akin to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse."

Another dozen senators executed a separate follow-up letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the same day, warning, "Mr. Prokopchuk has a history of serving in Russian President Vladimir Putin's dubious security services and reportedly attempting to abuse Interpol to pursue Russia's political enemies."

Prokopchuk is a vice president at Interpol, and previously served as a general in the Russian Interior Ministry.

According to the BBC, Kim once served as head of police in South Korea's most populous province, Gyeonggi.

"Our world is now facing unprecedented changes which present huge challenges to public security and safety," he said, after his election.

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

What does Interpol do?

The International Criminal Police Organization does not have arrest powers or its own officers, but rather serves as a clearinghouse for global law enforcement coordination. It does, however, issue so-called "Red Notices," which are essentially international arrest warrants.

Russia has been accused of abusing Red Notices as a way of targeting dissidents.

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