Chinese, Russian officials at head of Interpol for 1st time

© Edgar Su
China’s Meng Hongwei has become the president of Interpol, while Russia’s Alexander Prokopchuk has been elected the organization’s vice president for Europe, the global police agency has announced.

“China's Meng Hongwei, Vice Minister of Public Security [has been] elected President of Interpol… Russia's Alexander Prokopchuk, head of the Interpol NCB [National Central Bureau] in Moscow [has been] elected Vice President of Interpol [for Europe],” the organization tweeted.

The officials were chosen for their posts during the agency’s 85th General Assembly in Bali, Indonesia, which took place November 7-10. Meng Hongwei, the first Chinese official to hold the position, takes over from France’s Mireille Ballestrazzi who was elected in 2012. China has been an Interpol member since 1923.

The president is usually elected by the General Assembly, Interpol’s supreme governing body, which is composed of delegates appointed by each member country. Vice presidents such as Prokopchuk are elected in the same way. Each member has only one vote. The president heads the agency’s Executive Committee for four years. There are four vice presidents at Interpol, representing four continents, according to Interpol rules.

Prokopchuk becomes the first Russian official to hold the position of the Interpol vice president for Europe. Russia (as part of the USSR at the time) joined the agency in 1990.

The head of Interpol’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Moscow, Major General Prokopchuk has 30 years’ experience of working in law enforcement. During his career he has fought economic and tax crimes and money laundering, according to RIA Novosti.

"In our changing world which faces new global threats, I am fully aware how important it is for Interpol to continue to stay several steps ahead of [the criminals], and [I] intend to do everything to help Interpol to live up to its full potential,” said Prokopchuk, as cited by RIA Novosti.

A source in the Russian delegation told the news agency that Prokopchuk was elected by 127 votes with only 10 against and eight abstentions. 

"The fact that … Prokopchuk has become the vice president [of Interpol] for Europe… is a kind of recognition of high level cooperation that has been achieved by slightly more than a quarter century of [Russian] membership in Interpol,” the source added.

This year the General Assembly session was attended by 164 member countries with some 830 police chiefs and senior law enforcement officials, according to an Interpol press release. 

Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, has 190 member countries. Its role is “to enable police around the world to work together to make the world a safer place,” the organization says on its website.