Dangers of Russian presidency over InterpolTaras Berezovets
Russia has long been infiltrating international organizations with its agents, which is a traditional tactic of the Soviet intelligence services.
Such brutal penetration by the Russians has led to Russian officials working for decades at the UN, the OSCE, Interpol, the IAEA, and other international agencies. And, of course, such officials are politically engaged. In other words, they act in the interests of the Russian Federation, not of their international employers.
Today, we are seeing Russia's global penetration of various structures. Moreover, international organizations are infiltrated not only by diplomats and experts, but also professional Russian intelligence operatives, including Russian Police Major-General Alexander Prokopchuk.
Prokopchuk is an ethnic Ukrainian, a native of Zhytomyr region and a graduate of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Under the Soviet Union, the best Ukrainian students were called upon to serve the empire... And this is why he has been serving the interests of Putin's regime. As a rule, those who crossed their nation out of their life have no sentimental feelings about it. On the contrary, they are most motivated to prove to their chiefs: "Although I'm a Ukrainian, I've done more harm to Ukraine than other Russians."
What could be the repercussions of Prokopchuk's chairmanship in Interpol? He has repeatedly abused his powers as the organization's vice president. Russians have repeatedly filed a "red card" for the arrest of Ukrainian politicians, such as Dmytro Yarosh, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and others. With their man at the helm the stream of those "red cards" could become an ocean tide.
What could be the repercussions of Prokopchuk's chairmanship in Interpol? He has repeatedly abused his powers as the organization's vice president
Therefore, Ukraine may consider suspending its membership in Interpol if a Russian official is selected to lead the body.
After all, if Ukraine doesn't suspend its membership, this will mean that the Russians will try to use it in any way possible to terrorize not only Ukrainian politicians, but also journalists, experts, and right about anyone, on various trumped-up charges. That is, any barriers will be removed.
Ukraine does have an option to temporarily withdraw from Interpol, and it is being considered absolutely seriously. However, I suggest that the case will go beyond Ukraine. A group of U.S. Senators and representatives of EU states have already stated their negative stance toward the latest developments. Therefore, all this could lead to more membership suspensions.
In particular, the move would be really convenient for Donald Trump because he identifies as an anti-globalist, criticizing U.S. participation in any international organization. Therefore, I can't rule out that Washington may also suspend its membership in Interpol along the same lines.
However, the situation is rather complicated, because the chances of Prokopchuk being selected to the top post remain quite high. After all, despite all the pressure, Russians are also working on recruiting individual members of national delegations.
Now, what would membership suspension mean for Ukraine? First of all, it will not comply with the Interpol regulations on its territory. But this will not stop the Ukrainian citizens from being detained abroad on Interpol's "red cards." That is, such move by Ukraine in the event a Russian official becomes president will have zero effect in this regard.
However, the situation is rather complicated, because the chances of Prokopchuk being selected to the top post remain quite high. After all, despite all the pressure, Russians are also working on recruiting individual members of national delegations
At the same time, in such a situation, a great danger arises for our citizens from the temporarily occupied Crimea. Some may have left Crimea, but, as we see in the case of Sentsov and Kolchenko, Russia could have automatically registered them as Russian nationals and now considers them Russian citizens. The problem is that our citizens from the occupied Crimea, who have fled the peninsula, also get to travel beyond Ukraine. Via Interpol, Russia could put them on wanted lists, accusing them of, say, terrorism, while those people would remain oblivious of the fact that they could get in trouble abroad for something they've never done... Remember Sentsov? He was also detained on fictitious charges, although he had nothing to do with terrorist organizations.
In other words, any Crimean activist who has long been living in Kyiv, could be detained upon arrival in some third country for an international conference or a private trip. At the same time, Russian authorities would claim that they are actually Russian citizens, because passports had been issued on their names back in 2014. And yes, Russia would claim they are "terrorists." So, these people could be detained and handed over to Russia. For such Ukrainian citizens, this is a mortal danger, because they will simply be thrown into Russia's hands, where they will face Sentsov's fate.
Taras Berezovets is a political scientist, head of BertaCommunication, co-founder of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future