Dutch want answers to beating of diplomat in Moscow

Attackers drew a heart containing the letters LGBT on a mirror in pink lipstick

The Netherlands’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans speaks during the United Nations 68th session of the General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 27th, last. Photograph:  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Netherlands’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans speaks during the United Nations 68th session of the General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 27th, last. Photograph: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

 

The Netherlands was seeking answers on Wednesday after a Dutch diplomat was beaten in Moscow, the latest in a series of incidents testing relations between the two countries.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government summoned Russia’s ambassador in The Hague to explain Tuesday’s assault, in which the second-in-charge of the Dutch embassy in Moscow was attacked at his home by unknown intruders posing as electricians.

Last week, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans had to apologise after a Russian diplomat was detained in the Hague. Russia had complained that he was assaulted during the detention.

Both attacks coincide with tension over Russia’s jailing of Greenpeace activists, including two Dutch citizens.

Attackers broke into the apartment of the Dutch diplomat late on Tuesday, forced him to the ground, hit him and drew a heart containing the letters LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) on a mirror in pink lipstick, Dutch media reported.

The diplomat was slightly hurt, Mr Timmermans said in a posting on Facebook. Dutch officials were not releasing the name of the diplomat or details of the attack due to privacy regulations.

Mr Rutte told journalists the incident was “very serious,” and said he wanted to know all the facts of the incident before making further comments. Russia’s foreign ministry expressed regret over the attack and said it would track down the culprits.

The United States condemned the incident.

“We condemn the attack on the minister-counselor of the Netherlands in Moscow. Such actions are unacceptable.,” US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul said on Twitter.

Mr Timmermans, a Russian speaker who was posted in Moscow in 1990s, said he would phone his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov later Wednesday.