Putin demands Dutch arrest apology as ties worsen

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The Russian embassy in The HagueImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Mr Borodin works as a minister counsellor at the Russian embassy in The Hague

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded an apology after police in the Netherlands briefly detained a Russian diplomat for alleged domestic abuse.

Moscow said Dmitri Borodin had been badly beaten in front of his children and Mr Putin said those involved should be punished.

The Dutch foreign minister said the matter was still being investigated.

Ties between the countries have been strained by the detention of Greenpeace activists in Russia last month.

The Netherlands launched legal action last week to free the activists, who were charged with piracy after a protest on an Arctic oil rig owned by state-controlled firm Gazprom.

The 30 people, two of them Dutch citizens, were arrested aboard the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.

Mr Borodin, a minister counsellor at the Russian embassy, told Russian media earlier that the men who arrested him had said they were responding to an alert raised by neighbours that children were being maltreated in the flat.

'Flat stormed'

Speaking during a visit to Indonesia, Mr Putin told reporters: "This is the most gross breach of the Vienna Convention [on Diplomatic Relations].

"We are waiting for explanations and apologies and also for those guilty to be punished. We will react depending on how the Dutch side behaves."

The foreign ministry in Moscow said the diplomat's flat in The Hague had been stormed by "armed people in camouflage uniform" and Mr Borodin had been beaten "in front of his children, on the absolutely made-up excuse that he allegedly mistreated them".

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov complained that the diplomat had been held for several hours after somebody had alleged he had been abusing his son, aged two, and his four-year-old daughter.

"That this happened in The Hague, the seat of the international court of justice, is absolutely absurd," he said.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans insisted no conclusions would be drawn before he had heard the results of an investigation into Saturday night's events.

"We're going to find out calmly exactly what happened. If there is a reason, then we will apologise," he told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

"Every country has its own style, and the Dutch style is to remain calm and investigate the affair," he added.

Mr Borodin expressed indignation at his alleged rough treatment by Dutch police on his private Twitter account, insisting he loved his children.

Thanking sympathisers for their messages of support on Tuesday, he said in a tweet he would not be commenting further as it was no longer a private matter.

The Russian foreign ministry's twitter account bitterly criticised the Dutch "silence", saying that Moscow awaited a "real apology & effective measures against this provocation's masterminds".

The incident comes at an awkward time for the two countries, ahead of a 9 November royal visit to Russia by King Willem Alexander.

The trip, expected to include a meeting with President Putin, brings an end to a year of cultural, economic and business events marking their bilateral relations.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
Before abdicating, Queen Beatrix hosted President Putin in Amsterdam in April