A former KGB agent narrowly lost the chance to lead Interpol. Alexander Prokopchuk, who currently serves as an Interpol vice president and a General in the Russian interior ministry, was slated to win the election for the new Interpol chief. The seat had been empty since the abduction and arrest of the previous chief, Meng Hongwei, by the Chinese authorities.

A last-minute effort, mainly led by the United States and the United Kingdom, frustrated Prokopchuk’s candidacy and resulted in the election of South Korean Kim Jong-yang as president. Both western countries were concerned that the election of a senior Russian government official would enable Russian President Vladimir Putin to pursue political rivals more easily. Moreover, there were concerns that with a Russian at the helm of the premier international law enforcement organisation, it would be harder to prosecute criminals with ties to the Russian government.

Hours before the vote, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “we encourage all nations and organisations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader with integrity. We believe Mr Kim will be just that.”

But the Anglo-American initiative wasn’t the only one. The European Union (EU) was equally concerned by the predictions and cautioned that in the event of Prokopchuk’s election “democratic and free countries may need to develop a parallel organisation.” Lithuania, additionally, threatened to leave the organisation if the Russian official was elected.