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Diplomats Hope to Ease Tensions After Break-In

Published: October 23, 2013 (Issue # 1783)



  • The Russian Embassy building in The Hague.
    Photo: Roman Lukaschuk / Wikicommons

The Foreign Ministry said Oct. 18 that a house managed by the Russian embassy in The Hague was burglarized by unknown assailants, the latest in a series of incidents involving Dutch and Russian diplomats that have ratcheted up tensions between the two nations.

Dutch police said later that day that the break-in appeared to be a normal burglary rather than a deliberate targeting of Russian Foreign Ministry employees, and the countries are reportedly already working behind the scenes to ease the bilateral strain, partly in order to preserve lucrative commercial ties.

Russian embassy staff in The Hague returned Oct. 17 to their house, which does not have diplomatic status, and discovered that burglars had broken in and stolen personal items. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Oct. 18 that its Dutch counterparts had expressed regret over the incident, and Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans later wrote on Facebook that Dutch police had identified a suspect in the burglary, a person whom Timmermans said was a repeat offender.

The break-in follows an incident last week in which assailants posing as electricians were let into the apartment of Onno Elderenbosch, the second-ranking Dutch diplomat in Moscow, where they beat him, ransacked his belongings and drew the acronym LGBT on a mirror along with a heart pierced by an arrow.

The attack was widely believed to be in response to the arrest and reported beating by Dutch police of a Russian diplomat, Dmitry Borodin, at his house in The Hague on Oct. 5, following complaints from neighbors about the treatment of his children. Borodin was released after talking with police for several hours.

President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials denounced the incident as a violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which prohibits intrusions into the homes of diplomats, and asked their Dutch counterparts to punish those responsible.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told the Amsterdam-based Telegraaf newspaper Oct. 18 that the Netherlands was not considering punishing the police officers who raided the diplomats house, however.

That is not an option. It is not going to happen. The police account gives us no reason to do so, Rutte said.

Relations have been further tested by the arrest of activists aboard the Dutch-registered Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in September, when the environmentalists were protesting a Gazprom oil platform in the Pechora Sea off Russias northern coast. The international group of activists were charged with piracy by a court in Murmansk and face up to 15 years in prison. Rutte said the Netherlands opposes the charges and plans to appeal to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea if the situation is not resolved by Monday, Dutch public broadcaster NOS reported. Despite the appearance of quickly deteriorating ties, a Kommersant report published Oct. 19 said both sides were looking to re-establish a better diplomatic rapport because of the importance of bilateral trade.

An unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official told the newspaper that Russian and Dutch diplomats had agreed to normalize relations as soon as possible, adding: We are ready for a de-escalation of tensions.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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