Dutch diplomat beaten in Moscow by unknown assailants

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Dutch diplomat was beaten up in his Moscow flat by unknown intruders, a week after Russia complained one of its envoys had been assaulted at his home in the Netherlands, the Dutch foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said it would ask Russia to explain the incident - both reported attacks came at a time when Moscow and The Hague are already at odds over Russia’s detention of Greenpeace activists, including two Dutch citizens.

The Dutch diplomat said attackers broke into his apartment late on Tuesday, hit him and drew a heart containing the letters LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) on his wall, a Russian police source told Russian news agency Interfax.

He was slightly wounded and Russia’s ambassador to the Hague had been summoned, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said in a post on Facebook. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told journalists the incident was “very serious”.

Russia’s foreign ministry expressed regret over the attack and said it would track down the culprits.

Dutch politicians urged their king to cancel a visit to Russia, planned for next month, in protest, while lawmaker Sjoerd Sjoerdsma labeled 2013 a “disaster year” for Russian-Dutch relations.


A week ago, the Dutch foreign minister apologized to Moscow for the detention of a Russian diplomat in The Hague, saying the envoy’s right to diplomatic immunity had been violated.

Moscow said attackers had entered the diplomat’s home, beat him with a police baton and illegally detained him for several hours over the previous weekend.

Earlier this month, the Netherlands launched legal proceedings against Russia, saying it had unlawfully detained activists on board a Dutch-registered Greenpeace ship who were protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic.

Russia arrested 30 activists, including two Dutch citizens, and charged them with piracy, which carries a jail sentence of 15 years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Amsterdam in April and was met by gay rights activists waving pink and orange balloons to protest against Russia’s treatment of homosexuals.

Reporting by Thomas Grove, Alessandra Prentice in Moscow and Sara Webb and Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Editing by David Brunnstrom