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Putin loyalist loses bid to run Interpol after U.S. lobbying campaign

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By Alastair Jamieson  with NBC News World News
Image: Winning candidate Kim Jong Yang of South Korea was backed by the U.S
Winning candidate Kim Jong Yang of South Korea was backed by the U.S.   -   Copyright  Kang Kyung-kook

A bid by a Vladimir Putin loyalist to become president of Interpol was thwarted Wednesday following a lobbying campaign by the U.S. and European allies.

The Trump administration opposed the candidacy of Maj. Gen. Alexander Prokopchuk of Russia's Interior Ministry, saying his election would allow Moscow to abuse Interpol's red notice system to go after political opponents.

The vacancy arose after the international crime agency's previous president, Meng Hongwei, was detained in China.

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Prokopchuk was defeated by South Korea's Kim Jong Yang, who secured at least two-thirds of votes cast at the organization's annual congress in Dubai.

Kim had been acting president since Meng's detention and was backed by the White House.

Alexander Prokopchuk lost his bid to be Interpol president.
Alexander Prokopchuk lost his bid to be Interpol president.AP

More than a dozen American senators wrote an open letter opposing Prokopchuk's election.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said it was "akin to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse."

Before the vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged member states to "choose a leader with credibility and integrity that reflects one of the world's most critical law enforcement bodies."

He added: "We believe Mr. Kim will be just that."