Dutch diplomat beaten in Moscow flat in tit-for-tat attack - with 'LGBT' written on mirror

Assailants’ motive may be gay rights issues after drawing of a heart was found at the scene

Moscow

A Dutch diplomat has been beaten by two men in his Moscow flat, further straining relations after police in the Netherlands detained and allegedly beat a Russian diplomat this month.

Citing a law enforcement source, state news agency RIA Novosti reported that an aide to the Dutch ambassador had told police that unknown attackers beat him and left behind a drawing of a heart containing the letters “LGBT” (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans then wrote on his Facebook page, confirming that the diplomat had been attacked and “slightly injured” by intruders in his home and was now recovering. He also said he had summoned the Russian ambassador for an explanation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry identified the diplomat as Onno Elderenbosch, the Dutch deputy chief of mission at the Moscow embassy. In a statement later that day, it said foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had called Mr Timmermans to assure him that “competent Russian agencies” were investigating the attack.

The Investigative Committee had previously said it was investigating the incident. Russian news reports said the attackers were disguised as electricians who came to check the fuse box, forcing their way in when Mr Elderenbosch opened the door.

In response to Tuesday’s attack, Dutch politicians have clamoured for King Willem-Alexander to cancel a planned visit to Russia next month.

Tensions between Russia and the Netherlands flared after Dmitry Borodin, the Russian embassy’s second-ranking diplomat, said he was beaten by police at his home in The Hague on 5 October and briefly detained. President Vladimir Putin demanded an apology, which was soon offered by Mr Timmermans, who nonetheless said he “understands” the police’s actions. Dutch media reported the police were responding to complaints from his neighbours that Mr Borodin was drunk and abusing his children.

Mr Borodin’s arrest sparked a protest outside the Dutch embassy in Moscow led by nationalist Duma deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Meanwhile, Russia’s food safety watchdog, which in the past has wielded import bans as a form of political pressure, threatened last week to ban imports of Dutch dairy products and tulips.

The burgeoning diplomatic row takes place during the Russian prosecution of 30 people from Dutch-registered Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, including two Dutch citizens, on piracy charges. The Netherlands brought legal proceedings against Russia under United Nations maritime law earlier this month.

The LGBT heart allegedly left by the attackers also seemed designed to raise tensions over gay rights. Moscow gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev said the beating was a “mockery” of the Netherlands and its liberal attitude towards sexual minorities.

Four Dutch filmmakers making a documentary about gay rights were detained in Murmansk this summer and deported.

The souring of relations comes during the Netherlands-Russia Year 2013, a series of events meant to celebrate the ties between the two countries.

Navalny barred from elections

A Russian court has upheld opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s embezzlement conviction, barring the street protest leader from running in elections. He was, however, spared jail time by the court, which suspended his five-year sentence.

Navalny had indicated he would like to stand in the Moscow City Duma elections next year. The anti-corruption blogger said he would appeal the decision.

In July, Navalny was convicted of embezzling timber worth 16m rubles (£310,000) from a state timber company in the Kirov region. In an unusual move, he was then released pending an appeal and allowed to run for mayor in Moscow, where he exceeded expectations to receive 27 per cent of the vote last month. Some have speculated that this show of support prevented the regime from imprisoning him.

In typically brash remarks after the verdict, Navalny promised to continue his political activities, posting on Facebook that he would not “shy away from every protest for fear of a violation that will turn the suspended sentence into prison time.”

Alec Luhn

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones