Russia Accuses US Senators of Trying to Meddle in Interpol Election

Lester Mason
November 20, 2018

British financier and Kremlin critic Bill Browder criticises Russia's leadership bid at Interpol calling their candidate Alexander Prokopchuk "inappropriate" for the role.

The joint press conference has another ironic twist: Before rebranding himself as a fearless human rights crusader, Browder was an outspoken supporter of Vladimir Putin, even lauding the Russian leader for his "battle" against Khodorkovsky, whose "activities in the mid-1990s became synonymous with corporate governance abuse".

The remark was a reference to the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in March, which Britain accuses Russian Federation of carrying out with a nerve agent developed in the late Soviet era.

Browder's tax consultant Sergei Magnitsky died in prison of untreated illness in 2009 after accusing Russian officials of $230 million tax fraud. Watchdog group Fair Trials International has been pressuring Interpol for years to clean up the red notice process and detailed in a report last month the strides Interpol has made in reducing the risk of political abuse.

The U.S. sanctions imposed under the Magnitsky Act imposed visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials linked to the death of Magnitsky.

Russian Federation has rejected the claims and this week announced it was opening a new probe into Browder on suspicion of running a "transnational criminal gang", even suggesting he was behind Magnitsky's death.

Another global arrest warrant is going to be issued for Browder; his property will be attached.

Browder said on Twitter that the Russian accusation came one day before "the Dutch government will be inviting all European Union member states to The Hague to propose an European Union wide Magnitsky Act".

The CEO of Hermitage Capital Management had a lot to gain from the death of Sergei Magnitsky, as a means of avoiding exposure, an adviser to the Russian prosecutor general said at a briefing. "Kafkaeske to say the least".

Current Interpol vice president Prokopchuk is seen as the favourite for the position. Russian Federation has been seeking the arrest of the British businessman since 2013, but Interpol's General Secretariat has rejected the country's requests each time. Magnitsky and the other accomplices in Browder's crimes could have been poisoned with "sabotage chemicals with aluminum compounds", the agency said.

Concerns have been raised over Russia's previous applications for Interpol "Red Notices", or worldwide arrest warrants, for those who have fallen foul of the Kremlin.

"This is interference ... in the election to an worldwide organisation", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Critics have long accused powerful governments of trying to use Interpol to pursue their political enemies.

Antipov called the prosecutors' new accusations "illegal" and said he will fight them.

Former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul said the candidacy was "worrying for anyone who believes in the rule of law".

Peskov also said that the Kremlin "naturally" supported Prokupchuk, who is now an Interpol vice president, and wanted him "to be victorious in this election".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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