Row with Russia Escalates Following Assault of Dutch Diplomat
THE HAGUE, 17/10/13 - The Netherlands has termed it “very serious” that the deputy Dutch ambassador in Moscow has been assaulted. This occurred in his residency on Tuesday night.
The 60 year old Onno Elderenbosch was attacked by two men dressed as electricians. They apparently hit the diplomat in his home, bound him and painted a pink heart with a text referring to homosexuality on the wall.
Russia "regrets” the incident, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov Wednesday afternoon. The authorities are looking for the perpetrators, according to a statement.
In the morning, Premier Mark Rutte had termed the assault “very serious.” Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans brought up the question with his counterpart Lavrov. The Russian ambassador has also been spoken to. Timmermans is to discuss the matter with the Lower House Thursday.
The attack on the ambassador must have been well prepared, believes Olaf Koens, who has been working in Moscow as a journalist since 2007. “He lives in a historic property in the centre. Strangers are not allowed in, even the mail deliverer does not get in just like that.”
The light was also turned out and the lift did not work, according to Koens. “The perpetrators pushed Elderenbosch to the ground, tied him on a chair and hit him. Nothing of value was taken."
It can be no coincidence, according to Koens, that the incident follows a week in which the tensions between Russia and the Netherlands ran up sharply following the arrest of the Russian diplomat Dimitri Borodin in The Hague. He was taken away by the police following reports that he was allegedly abusing his children.
President Vladimir Putin then demanded an apology from the Netherlands because the Treaty of Vienna, which enshrines the inviolability of diplomats, had been violated. This apology he did get, but the Russian demand that the police officers be punished was not taken up by the Netherlands.