Published time: October 08, 2013 12:59
Edited time: October 08, 2013 15:52
President Vladimir Putin called on the Netherlands to apologize for the alleged assault and detention of a Russian diplomat in The Hague. He slammed the incident as a “blatant violation” of the Vienna Convention and demanded those responsible be punished.
Speaking at the APEC summit in Indonesia, Putin said Russia was waiting for an “official apology” after a formal complaint was lodged with the government of the Netherlands.
“We are awaiting an explanation, an apology and also punishment of those responsible,” Putin said at a news conference after an Asia-Pacific summit in Indonesia. He added that Russia would react depending on the course of action the Dutch side takes.
“The Dutch government is obliged to send a full explanation by 6pm today (14:00 GMT) Moscow time,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in an official statement.
Minister-counselor Dmitry Borodin said he was badly beaten by unidentified men in camouflage uniform who forced their way into his flat in The Hague on Saturday evening. He was then taken to a police station and held for a number of hours without any explanation.
Borodin went on to say that the men did not produce any official documents showing they were policemen. Moreover, the men ignored Borodin when he said he was a diplomat.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev)
The Dutch government responded by saying it would apologize only if an investigation into the incident proved the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity had been breached.
“I can confirm that the Netherlands are leading an investigation of the incident involving the Russian diplomat detained by the Dutch police. If the investigation proves there was a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations then the Netherlands will apologize to the Russian Federation,” Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Thijs van Son told Interfax.
However, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it was not satisfied with the Dutch response and demanded an “exhaustive explanation” of the incident.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich added that the results of the initial talks with the Dutch government on the issue were “more than disappointing.”
“The attempt of the Dutch side to somehow justify the brutal police action does not hold water,” Lukashevich said, saying that the “unacceptable” and “incomprehensible” incident was not equal to the usual level of Russian-Dutch relations.
Earlier, a spokeswoman for The Hague’s police force confirmed that there had been an incident involving a member of the Russian diplomatic mission. She added that “this man is fine. He is not in the hospital.”
Dutch news agency ANP said the police called at Borodin’s flat because they had received reports from his neighbors about the mistreatment of his children.
“They [police] said they had received a call from the neighbors regarding the mistreatment of the children in this apartment,” said Borodin, stressing that the allegations were “false.”
In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador to account for the incident. On Tuesday the ambassador left the ministry, refusing to make any comment to press about the attack on Borodin.
“Police in The Hague managed to beat up and detain the second-in-command of the Russian Embassy without any punishment from the higher authorities. This looks like a response to the Greenpeace affair,” wrote Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Russian President.
The incident has heightened tensions between the Dutch and Russian governments already at loggerheads over the detention of Greenpeace activists who staged a protest at a Russian oil rig off Russia’s north coast. On Friday, the Dutch government said it was taking legal action to try and release the 30 activists who were arrested on the Dutch-registered vessel ‘Arctic Sunrise’.
In response to the announcement, the Russian government issued a sharp rebuke to the Dutch government for failing to address the issue earlier.
“Over the last year-and-a-half the Russian side made repeated attempts to contact their Dutch counterparts to intervene in the vessel’s illegal activities,” Russian Foreign Ministry deputy head Aleksey Meshkov told RIA Novosti on Saturday.
The 30 Greenpeace activists are currently in pretrial detention and include foreigners from 18 different countries, including the US, Netherlands and Finland.
The activists were arrested on September 18 when their vessel approached the Prirazlomnaya rig in the North of Russia. A number of activists then attempted to scale the sides of the structure, chief manager of the rig Artur Akopov told RT. Authorities said that their actions endangered the structural integrity of the rig.
Greenpeace has denied the charges of piracy set against its members and announced that it will take legal action against the Russian police for “serious violations” that occurred when the Arctic Sunrise was seized. Vigils were held worldwide over the weekend, calling for the release of the activists.