A senior Dutch diplomat was attacked by unknown assailants in Moscow, Russian news agencies have reported, a week after President Vladimir Putin demanded an apology for a Russian diplomat’s alleged beating in the Netherlands.
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans confirmed the attack, that happened late on Tuesday, on his Facebook page and summoned the Russian ambassador for an explanation on Wednesday, according to Dutch media.
The deputy head of the Netherlands mission in Moscow, Onno Elderenbosch, was approached at his home by men posing as electricians who then beat him up, Russian news reports said.
Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted a security source as saying that Elderenbosch had reported the assailants broke into his apartment, beat him and left "a heart with the letters LGBT" on the diplomat's wall. LGBT is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
Putin was met in Amsterdam earlier this year with a gay pride parade where activists waved pink and orange balloons to protest against Russia's ban on gay "propaganda" directed at minors, which has sparked international criticism.
Interfax reported on Wednesday that a criminal case has been opened by the Russian Investigative Committee.
Dutch media said the diplomat suffered minor injuries but Interfax's police source said he did not ask for medical treatment.
Tensions between Russia and the Netherlands grew last week when police in the Hague detained a Russian diplomat over accusations he was mistreating his children. The Moscow attack resembled Russia's version of that incident in which ithe government said its diplomat was badly beaten in his home in front of his children.
The Netherlands later apologised for breaching the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
Earlier this month, the Netherlands launched legal proceedings against Russia, saying it had unlawfully detained activists aboard a Dutch-registered Greenpeace ship who were protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic.
Russia arrested 30 activists on board the ship, including two Dutch citizens, and charged them with piracy, which carries a jail sentence of 15 years.
On Tuesday, Russia denied bail for two more activists from the Greenpeace ship, who are British and Italian citizens.