NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin demanded an apology from the Netherlands on Tuesday after Dutch police detained the Russian embassy’s second-ranking diplomat at his home, following a complaint by neighbors.
Russia said Dmitry Borodin was badly beaten in front of his children by what it said were unidentified armed assailants, and lodged a formal diplomatic protest over Saturday’s incident.
A Dutch police spokeswoman Ellen van Zijl confirmed there had been an incident involving a Russian diplomat, adding: “This man is fine. He is not in the hospital.”
The Dutch Foreign Ministry said the government would apologize if a police investigation found Borodin’s right to diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention had been violated.
Putin, speaking at a news conference in Indonesia after an Asia-Pacific summit, said the incident was a “very rude violation” of diplomatic rules.
“We are awaiting an explanation, an apology and also punishment of those responsible,” he said. “Depending on how the Dutch side conducts itself, we will react,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the Russian embassy in The Hague, Sofia Sarenkova, said she believed a complaint from neighbors about Borodin’s treatment of his children had been “one of the pretexts” for the incident.
Local child protection services in The Hague said they were investigating the neighbors’ complaint.
“PUSHED TO THE GROUND”
Sarenkova said the men who visited Borodin’s apartment were “wearing something like police uniforms” but that they did not identify themselves. She said they pushed Borodin to the ground and beat him with a baton before taking him to a police station.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador on Tuesday morning and gave the Netherlands a 6 p.m. (1400 GMT) deadline to provide an “exhaustive explanation”. But Moscow said the response was “more than disappointing”.
“The facts speak for themselves: police break into the flat of a senior Russian diplomat at night, beat him up, handcuff him and take him to a police station,” the ministry said. Borodin had not been allowed to contact his embassy, it added.
Russia and the Netherlands are already at odds over the prosecution on piracy charges of environmental activists involved in a protest against Arctic oil drilling.
The Netherlands on Friday launched legal proceedings against Russia over the detention of Greenpeace activists on a Dutch-registered ship after their protest at an oil rig off Russia’s north coast. Two of the 30 people arrested are Dutch.
On a visit to the Netherlands in April, Putin faced protests from gay rights activists over what human rights organizations say is repression of homosexuals in Russia. Putin denied Russia discriminates against gays.
Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Moscow and Anthony Deutsch in The Hague,; Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Jon Boyle