Senators push back on Russian official's candidacy for Interpol president

A group of U.S. senators is urging the Trump administration to oppose a Russian official's candidacy to lead Interpol.

"Interpol electing Major General Alexander Prokopchuk as its new President is akin to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse," wrote Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump faces difficult balancing act with reelection campaign Republicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE (R-Fla.), Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMedia and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity Bill to return B in unredeemed bonds advances Grassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel MORE (D-Del.) Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenMeghan McCain: Lewandowski Senate run would be 'an absolutely ridiculous crap show' Super PAC targets Lewandowski with ad amid Senate speculation Lewandowski 'very, very close to announcing' decision on Senate run MORE (R-N.H.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Tech giants defend efforts against extremist content The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Miss.) in a joint statement.

"Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents and journalists," they wrote.

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The senators accused Prokopchuk, a veteran Russian Interior Ministry official, of being "personally involved in this intimidation strategy."

"If elected as President by the members of Interpol’s General Assembly on Wednesday, we have no doubt that Mr. Prokopchuk will further institutionalize the abuse of Interpol red notices and block ongoing efforts at meaningful reform," they added. 

Russia, however, argued that the senators' statement was tantamount to "a kind of election interference, the election held by this international organization," according to The Wall Street Journal.

A spokeswoman for Russia's Interior Ministry, Irina Volk, said in a statement that Prokopchuk's current post at Interpol and years in law enforcement confirmed "the trust and high appreciation of his activities in this international organization.”

She said Prokopchuk would "operate completely in the interests of the international police community" if elected.

Interpol confirmed to the Journal on Tuesday that Prokopchuk had been nominated for president of the global police agency along with a South Korean official, Kim Jong-yang. 

The elections for Interpol's presidency will be held Wednesday. 

Its last president, Meng Hongwei, resigned in October after he was arrested in China on charges of corruption.