Putin demands Dutch apology over diplomat amid Greenpeace row

8th October 2013, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday demanded that the Netherlands apologise after a diplomat working for the Russian embassy in The Hague was detained by police and questioned for hours.

"This is the most gross breach of the Vienna Convention. We are waiting for explanations and apologies and also for those guilty to be punished," Putin said at a regional summit in Indonesia.

"We will react depending on how the Dutch side behaves," he said at a news conference.

Ties between Russia and the Netherlands deteriorated sharply after Russian investigators last week charged 30 crew members of Greenpeace's Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise ship with piracy over a protest against Arctic oil drilling.

The Netherlands hit back by taking legal action to free the activists who face up to 15 years in jail.

In a fresh spat, the Russian foreign ministry said Dutch police raided the apartment of diplomat Dmitry Borodin at the weekend and beat him up before taking him to a police station for questioning on accusations of mistreating his children.

"Armed people in camouflage uniform stormed the apartment of Borodin, a minister counsellor at the Russian embassy, and roughly beat up the diplomat in front of his children, on the absolutely made-up excuse that he allegedly mistreated them," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told the Interfax news agency.

"This was done after Mr Borodin explained he was a diplomat. It's well known that the residence of any diplomat cannot be touched," he added.

"Our diplomat was put in handcuffs and taken to a police station where he was held almost all night," Lukashevich said.

"After that he was let go without any explanations or apologies."

The Russian foreign ministry on Tuesday handed a note of protest to the Dutch ambassador over the incident.

Ambassador Ron van Dartel refused to comment on leaving the ministry in Moscow, Rossiya 24 state television reported.

The foreign ministry in a statement called for "official apologies to the Russian side and Borodin's family" as well as compensation for the material and "moral" damage caused.

"A proposal has been made to the Dutch side to give comprehensive explanations by 6:00 pm today (1400 GMT)," the ministry said.

The Netherlands has yet to comment on the incident.

"We are aware of the incident and are looking into it before commenting," a spokesman at the Dutch foreign ministry, Thijs van Son, told AFP.

Dutch police refused to comment.

'Tit-for-tat tactics'

Borodin, who has a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, told the state ITAR-TASS news agency that police told him his neighbours had reported ill treatment of the children.

He said he was pinned to the floor and also "received a blow to the head with a truncheon".

He said he was now suffering from high blood pressure "evidently because of this incident".

The press attache of the Russian embassy in the Netherlands, Sofia Sarenkova, said Borodin was treated in hospital after his detention.

"He suffered from a beating, as far as I know," she told AFP.

The Kremlin children's envoy, Pavel Astakhov, a lawyer who has harshly criticised ill treatment of Russian children adopted abroad, said that the diplomat had been treated unfairly.

"So far instead of a fair legal investigation, there has been a diplomatic scandal with the grossest breach of basic international agreements," he wrote on Twitter.

Kremlin-connected political analyst Fyodor Lukyanov suggested that the Dutch actions could be part of a Cold War-style tit-for-tat.

"In the Cold War years, such incidents used to happen with Soviet diplomats in the West or Western diplomats in the USSR," he told the state news agency RIA Novosti.

"Special services used to resort to this in the most extreme cases. Possibly, the Dutch representatives considered what is happening now with the Arctic Sunrise to be such an extreme case."

© 2013 AFP

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