While Moscow may have gained a little more sway when it tried to use the agency, Interpol is an essentially bureaucratic structure in which the director cannot — at least not without being very obvious — interfere in cases, accredit spies or hand Moscow its databases, as many feared.
After all, the previous director, Meng Hongwei, was Chinese, and Beijing is as assiduous as Moscow in trying to bend Interpol to its ends, especially against Uighur dissidents. Somehow the agency survived this, and it would have likely survived with a Russian in charge, too.
It is important to remember how little real power Interpol can wield. Even when politically motivated cases do lead to red notices being issued, in contradiction of its own charter, individual countries can ignore them, and they can be challenged in the courts. Indeed, the power of red notices depends on Interpol’s credibility. The more it is abused, the less it will matter.
Perhaps this was the more serious danger. Interpol is bureaucratic, sometimes clumsy, and it can only request information, not demand it.
Police cooperation based on bilateral agreements, regional structures (such as Europol) and other bespoke arrangements tend to be much more effective and responsive. However, Interpol is the instrument of last resort, a third party intermediary which can bypass the roadblocks of geopolitics.
At present, for example, direct police cooperation between Russia and Britain on anything other than a few, specific issues such as child abuse, is virtually non-existent.
However, the NCB in London can send a request to Interpol, which will be sent to Moscow, and maybe the Russians will reply. Anything that damages Interpol — and Prokopchuk’s election undoubtedly would have — also damages global law enforcement cooperation at a time when it is already hard for the cops to keep up with the robbers.