Interpol’s consideration of third application from Russia undermines the agency’s own credibility
This week, as the world marks the fifth anniversary of the murder in Russian police custody of the lawyer-turned-whistleblower Sergey Magnitsky, the Russian government is pushing Interpol to arrest William Browder, leader of the Magnitsky Justice campaign, in connection with alleged fraud
The fraud that Browder is accused of is the fraud that Magnitsky helped uncover: a $230m fraud by individuals of the Russian state against the Russian state. Yet the only individuals thus far charged with any illegal activities relating to this are Browder and Magnitsky, who were sentenced in 2013 in absentia as “co-conspirators” in the first-ever posthumous trial in Russian history. Russia’s use of Interpol to target Browder is another example of the despotic nature of President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Today and tomorrow, Interpol will decide on the Russian government’s third Red Notice application for Interpol members to detain Browder. Interpol rejected Russia’s two previous applications as politically-motivated and contrary to Interpol’s Constitution – which prohibits “activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”. Russia has long abused the Interpol system to settle scores with its opponents. Given this background, the fact that Interpol is even considering a third application from Russia undermines Interpol’s own credibility.
Western countries must take a firm line against the Kremlin’s illiberal abuse of Interpol and other international law enforcement institutions to pursue political opponents.
Dr Andrew Foxall, Director of the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society, commented:
“It is outrageous that Interpol is considering a third application from Russia for Mr Browder’s arrest. This is the latest in a long series of attacks against those seeking justice for Sergey Magnitsky. Western law enforcement agencies who receive requests for help from Russia need to realise that there is a very good chance the requests are politically-motivated and to assist Russia would be to enable Putin’s authoritarianism.”