The Netherlands has given in to demands for an apology from a furious Vladimir Putin after one of the most senior diplomats from the Russian embassy was beaten, threatened and detained by Dutch police.
Neighbours had complained about Dmitry Borodin’s bad treatment of his own children, according to Russian embassy spokeswoman Sofia Sarenkova, who said this was “one of the pretexts” for the incident.
A Dutch police investigation has now found that the actions of its officers “violated” international law, because Mr Borodin should have been “guaranteed full diplomatic immunity” under the Vienna Convention.
“For this, the Netherlands apologises to Russia,” a statement from the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans read.
Russian President Putin, speaking in Indonesia at the Asia-Pacific economic summit, said the arrest was a “very rude violation” of diplomatic rules.
“We are awaiting an explanation, an apology and also punishment of those responsible,” he had said. “Depending on how the Dutch side conducts itself, we will react.”
Mr Timmermans nonetheless said he “personally understands” the actions of the police officers involved, and local child protection services in The Hague have said they are still looking into the neighbours' complaint.
Dutch police confirmed there had been an incident involving a Russian diplomat on Saturday, saying: “This man is fine. He is not in the hospital.”
Ms Sarenkova said that although the people who arrested Mr Borodin were “wearing something like police uniforms”, they did not identify themselves and used force to subdue him before taking him to a police station.
Mr Borodin told Russian state TV: “I was defending (my) children. I did not know who these people were. They knocked me down, hit with a baton. Then handcuffs, a hit on the head.”
Yesterday the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador and gave him and his country until 6pm to provide an “exhaustive explanation” for what had happened. 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. It added that Mr Borodin had not been allowed to contact his embassy.
Russia and the Netherlands are already locked in another diplomatic dispute over the charges of piracy currently being brought against Greenpeace activists who protested against Arctic oil drilling.
On Friday the Netherlands launched legal proceedings against Russia after security services from the latter boarded the Dutch-registered ship Arctic Sunrise and detained everyone on board. Two of the 30 arrested are Dutch, and Greenpeace insists that the ship was engaged in a legal protest in international waters.