November 20, 2018 / 9:50 AM / 21 days ago

Kremlin says U.S. is meddling in selection of Interpol head

FILE PHOTO: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov looks on during a visit to the Mazda Sollers Manufacturing Rus joint venture plant of Sollers and Japanese Mazda in Vladivostok, Russia September 10, 2018. Valery Sharifulin/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Tuesday that public opposition by a group of U.S. senators to a Russian candidate to head the international police organisation Interpol amounted to election meddling.

Interpol’s general assembly is due to elect a new head at a meeting on Wednesday. On Monday, four U.S. senators issued a statement urging U.S. President Donald Trump to oppose the candidacy of Russia’s Alexander Prokopchuk.

The senators accuse Russia of abusing Interpol to settle scores and harass dissidents by issuing warrants, known as red notices, for their arrest. The senators said the election of Prokopchuk would allow Moscow to step up such abuse.

“This is probably a certain kind of interference in the electoral process of an international organisation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

Prokopchuk, a former major general in Russia’s Interior Ministry and current vice president of Interpol, is generally considered the leading candidate for the presidency.

Bill Browder, a British fund manager critical of the Kremlin who has been detained repeatedly at Russia’s behest before being released again, said it would be “outrageous” if Prokopchuk was named to head the global police agency.

“This particular individual has been responsible for trying to chase me down and have Interpol arrest me seven times,” he said in comments to BBC radio.

“All of a sudden, this guy is now put in charge of the institution he’s been trying to abuse for the last six years,” he said.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth, additional reporting by Michael Holden in London; editing by Andrew Osborn, Larry King

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