Dutch say Russian embassy flat break-in 'regular burglary'

18th October 2013, Comments 0 comments

A Russian embassy flat in The Hague was broken into on Thursday night, the latest incident to spike tensions between the two countries which Dutch police said appeared to be a regular burglary.

"Some personal effects were stolen, I can't say what," police spokeswoman Ellen van Zijl told AFP on Friday, adding that no arrests had yet been made over the break-in at a house located close to the Russian embassy grounds.

The building contains several apartments and is managed by the Russian embassy but has no diplomatic status, police said in a statement.

"The break-in fits the modus operandi of recent burglaries in that part of town," it added.

The Russian foreign ministry said that embassy staff had discovered that one of the apartments had been broken into when they returned home from work.

"The apartment is occupied by a staff member of the embassy's administrative-technical personnel, who is currently on vacation," a ministry statement said.

Russia expects "the Dutch authorities to take exhaustive measures in order to establish the culprits of this crime," it said.

The break-in came days after a senior Dutch diplomat at The Netherlands embassy in Moscow was beaten up at his home in the Russian capital by unknown attackers.

Dutch police said no damage was done to The Hague apartment and "nothing was daubed on the walls," in apparent reference to a heart and the letters LGBT (standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) left drawn in lipstick at the Dutch diplomat's flat in Moscow.

Whoever broke in entered through the front door and did no damage, police said, adding that they were working with the Russian embassy on investigating the incident.

Relations between Russia and The Netherlands have deteriorated over Moscow's arrest of the 30-member crew of a Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship and the earlier detention of a Russian diplomat in The Netherlands.

The deputy head of the Dutch mission in Moscow was beaten up at his home on Tuesday by two men who had claimed to be electricians.

The 60-year-old Dutch diplomat was not badly harmed and did not seek medical attention.

Last week, police in The Hague detained a Russian diplomat over accusations he was mistreating his two young children.

The Netherlands later apologised for breaching the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which grants diplomats immunity from arrest, but said police had acted out of professional responsibility when detaining the diplomat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded the police who detained the diplomat be punished, but Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that "no proceedings will be taken against the officers", the Telegraaf daily reported Friday.

The flare-up between two states whose friendship dates back to Tsar Peter the Great's visits to learn the shipbuilding trade in The Netherlands is particularly embarrassing coming during a Russian-Dutch Bilateral Year aimed at promoting cultural ties.

© 2013 AFP

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