THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The Dutch foreign minister apologized to Moscow on Wednesday for the detention of a Russian diplomat in The Hague, saying his right to diplomatic immunity had been violated.
Russian Embassy officials said Dutch police entered the diplomat’s home, beat him with a baton and illegally detained him for several hours last weekend. Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded a Dutch apology for the incident.
It occurred at a time when Moscow and The Hague are already at odds over the detention in Russia of Greenpeace activists, including two Dutch citizens.
Based on information provided by the police, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans “concluded that the detention and arrest of a Russian diplomat, who is guaranteed full diplomatic immunity, violated” international law.
“For this, the Netherlands apologizes to Russia,” a ministry statement said. Timmermans said however that he “personally understands” the actions of the police officers involved.
Dutch child protection services said earlier they were investigating a complaint from neighbors of diplomat Dmitry Borodin about his treatment of his children. The Russian Embassy said the complaint was “one of the pretexts” for the incident.
In apologizing, Borodin told the Russian state news agency Itar-Tass, the Dutch “did the right thing ... I hope that these torrents of mud that have been poured on me and my family by the Dutch press will now cease”.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had received the apology and a promise from the Netherlands to share the results of its investigation into the incident.
Reporting by Anthony Deutsch in The Hague; Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Moscow; Editing by Mark Heinrich