Putin demands apology for arrest of Russian diplomat in the Netherlands
Dmitri Borodin held for several hours after complaints about way he treated his children
Russian president Vladimir Putin has demanded an apology for the arrest of the Russian diplomat
Relations between the Netherlands and Russia, already strained over the detention of the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, worsened yesterday when Russian president Vladimir Putin demanded an apology for the arrest and alleged beating of a Russian diplomat last weekend.
Although there are conflicting versions of what happened, the diplomat, Dmitri Borodin, a minister-counsellor who is number two at the Russian embassy in The Hague, was arrested at his home after neighbours apparently complained about how he was treating his children.
Russia yesterday lodged a formal diplomatic protest about the incident, claiming a number of men “wearing something like police uniforms” entered Mr Borodin’s apartment without identifying themselves and pushed the diplomat to the ground.
At this point, according to Sofia Sarenkova, a spokeswoman for the embassy, Mr Borodin was hit – in front of his children, a girl of four and a boy of nearly two – with what appeared to have been a baton, before being taken to a police station.
In Moscow, foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Mr Borodin’s insistence that he was a diplomat and as such had immunity from arrest had been ignored by the Dutch police, who held him for several hours before releasing him “without explanation or apology”.
He said the Dutch ambassador had been summoned to the ministry yesterday and asked to provide “an exhaustive explanation”.
‘This man is fine’
A spokeswoman for the Dutch police, Ellen van Zijl, would confirm only that there had been an incident involving a Russian diplomat, adding: “This man is fine. He is not in hospital.”
However, speaking on the fringes of an Asia-Pacific economic summit meeting in Bali, Mr Putin described the arrest as “a most gross breach of the Vienna convention”.
He was referring to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs issues such as diplomatic immunity.
The president added: “We are waiting for an explanation and for an apology, and for those responsible to be punished. How we react depends on how the Dutch side conducts itself.”
Last night, the Dutch foreign ministry said it would investigate the incident and would apologise if Mr Borodin’s diplomatic immunity had been violated.