Putin foes seek Russia’s suspension from Interpol

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LONDON, Nov 20, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Two top targets of international arrest
warrants sought by Moscow said Tuesday they were launching a legal bid to get
Russia suspended from Interpol for abusing the global police organisation.

The intervention by investor Bill Browder and Mikhail Khodorkovsky — a
former oil baron who spent 10 years in a Russian jail and now lives in London
exile — came as Putin was on the brink of getting an ally named to a top
Interpol post.

Browder has been named in multiple Interpol “Red Notices” initiated by
Russia on what he considers overtly political and trumped up charges.

The US-born British national was Russia’s biggest foreign investor before
falling foul of the authorities and being banned in 2005.

Browder is now best known for waging a legal war against Russian officials
he accuses of human rights abuses and being implicated in the death of his
lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow pretrial detention centre in 2009.

“We intend to begin a legal process to get Russia suspended from the use of
Interpol,” Browder told reporters.

“The Interpol constitution has very specific rules which forbid countries
who are serial abusers from using the system,” he said.

International lawyer Ben Emmerson — a former UN special envoy on counter
terrorism and human rights with a long list of prominent clients — said he
expected to file Browder’s lawsuit at some point next year.

Senior Russian interior ministry official and current Interpol vice
president Alexander Prokopchuk is considered a frontrunner in a presidential
vote set to be held at the global police agency’s conference in Dubai on
Wednesday.

The president serves an administrative function and both Browder and
Emmerson said Russia was unlikely to win any extra powers if its man secured
the job.

Interpol is actually headed by its German Secretary General Jurgen Stock.

But Emmerson said Prokopchuk’s rise to the presidency would highlight the
abuses that pervade a police organisation whose charter specifically bans
politics.

“The issue does not hinge on the identity of the individual,” said
Emmerson.

“If (Russia’s candidacy goes through), it is the clearest possible signal
that the organisation will not be taking steps to tackle the crisis that it
is facing.”

If Russia’s abuses “are to be stopped, somebody needs to be in charge who
can is prepared to square up to the abuse and the undermining of the abuse of
law and to do something about.

Khodorkovsky said Russia tried to secure his arrest and extradition from
London just two years after President Vladimir Putin signed off on his early
release from prison on embezzlement charges in 2013.

“I am seriously concerned that if Mr Prokopchuk is elected president of
Interpol, then on Kremlin orders, he will be prepared to do absolutely
anything,” Khodorkovsky said.

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