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21 Nov, 2018 18:19

A Russian not becoming head of Interpol is bigger news than the person who did

A Russian not becoming head of Interpol is bigger news than the person who did

Interpol’s new boss is South Korean Kim Jong-yang, although reading the gleeful mainstream coverage of the news, it’s much easier to find out who didn’t get the job — or more specifically, that the losing candidate was Russian.

Alexander Prokopchuk, who currently serves as Interpol’s vice president was the favorite to take the top job at the international policing organization, but was edged out by the South Korean amid intense lobbying from Western powers against Prokopchuk, despite being described by one source to the Times newspaper as someone who is “respected by his peers and regarded as a more competent candidate than his South Korean rival.”

Almost without exception, mainstream headlines screamed that Prokopchuk had lost out on the job, with Kim Jong-yang’s election mentioned as a mere side note in the articles themselves. Perhaps anti-Russian sentiment has reached the point where something not happening to a Russian is deemed to be bigger news than something that does happen to someone else. Little of Kim Jong-yang’s biography, credentials or achievements is on offer in the articles either, which focus on Prokopchuk’s background instead.


The other obvious conclusion to make here is that the only reason Prokopchuk did not get the job was because of his nationality. Indeed, it was the fact that the organization’s vice president is Russian which led to the campaign of pressure by the United States and Britain to prevent him from being elected to the position, despite his suitableness for the job. Isn’t that exactly the kind of election interference Western powers have claimed to find so unacceptable?

Merely a few days since the Times faced controversy over describing a Russian cartoon as pro-Putin “propaganda” for children, the Times was happy to get in a few more digs, reporting comments by British Liberal Democrat MP Sir Vince Cable, who said Prokopchuk’s election would turn Interpol into “a branch of the Russian mafia,” as well as comments issued by a group of four US senators who said a Russian leading Interpol would be like “putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.”

The Guardian and BBC also appeared gleeful at Prokopchuk’s misfortune, both portraying Kim Jong-yang’s election as a “blow to Russia” in their headlines — and the South Korean didn’t even make it into the Telegraph’s headline at all.

Before the election, numerous xenophobic headlines also screamed about the terrifying prospect of a Russian becoming Interpol’s president. ‘Interpol's New President May Be Russian – Yes You Read That Right,’ the Huffington Post wrote.

“Don't let Russia lead Interpol,” a Bloomberg opinion piece pleaded before the election, while the Washington Post warned: "There is a wolf at Interpol's door. The agency should not let him take over.” In fairness to the New York Times, its headline was a bit more informative: ‘Interpol, Under Pressure From The West, Rejects Russian Who Sought To Lead It.’

Some of the usual anti-Russia suspects also celebrated Prokopchuk’s defeat on Twitter, with former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul declaring “victory!” and thanking “all those who mobilized to shape this vote!”

Bill Browder, a British financier and former Putin fan (until he was convicted of tax fraud in Russia) wrote that the election was “a total humiliation for Putin” who must be “stomping around the Kremlin right now.”

The Kremlin’s own statement, while expressing disappointment, was slightly less dramatic than Browder’s depiction, with spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying that “we regret that it wasn’t our candidate, but nonetheless there are no grounds to disagree with the election result.”

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