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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 diplomat’s 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 Russia’s 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

Thursday, July 24


Liliana Modiliani, a well-known Russian stylist, will talk about choosing clothes that fit during her lecture at 7 p.m. at the Pryamoy Efir art club, 13 Viborgskoe Shosse.



Friday, July 25


Discuss Russia’s economic and political prospects for 2014 during a Business Breakfast organized by SPIBA at 9.30 a.m. in the Bank Saint-Petersburg office at 64


Malookhtinsky Prospekt.


Start your weekend with adorable miniature pigs at the Squealing Pig festival at 7 p.m. this evening in the Karl & Friedrich restaurant, 15 Iozhnaya doroga, on Krestovsky Island.



Saturday, July 26


Hundreds of brand-new and retro cars, drag and drift shows, test drives and karting are planned for the Avtobum-2014 festival, which will take place in front of the RIO shopping center at 2 Fuchika Ulitsa.


Participants in today’s SaniDay Summer competition will impress visitors with their hand-made, unusual and hilarious boats, which will race at the Igora Resort near the 54th kilometer on Priozerskoe Shosse.


Metro Family Day will include both serious lectures for adults and master-classes for children, making the event interesting for the whole family. To participate, come to Kirov Park on Yelagin Island.


Photography will be the focus of today’s Photosubbota, which features lectures by famous photographers, meetings with photo schools and studio representatives, and participation in a photography competition. The event starts at noon at Petrokongress, 5 Lodeynopolskaya Ulitsa.


If you like cycling, make sure to visit the Za Velogorod Festival with its retro bike exhibition, market and live music. The second round of the Leningrad Criterium race will also take place during the event at Petrovsky Arsenal in Sestroretsk.



Sunday, July 27


Navy Day will be celebrated with a weapon and military transportation exhibition, self-defense master classes and concerts. The event starts at 1 p.m. in the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburg.



Monday, July 28


Don’t miss a chance to see the latest achievements in robotics during the RoboDom interactive show, exhibiting more than 150 robots. The show will be at BUM center, 22/2 Gzhatskaya Ulitsa, until Aug. 3. The entrance ticket costs 350 rubles ($10).



Tuesday, July 29


A video of a Queen concert from 1986 will be shown today at 8 p.m. in Yaschik, 50/13 Ligovsky Prospekt.



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