Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dutch King Pelted With Tomatoes in Russia

Dutch-Russian relations are at an all time low: it is basically a clash between Western post modern decadence and Russian pre modern authoritarian traditionalism

After the Russian law that prohibits 'non traditional' sexual relations between minors came the GreenPeace piracy vessel (or was that privateering?); then came the diplomatic spats. 

UPDATE: The Dutch King has been pelted with rotten tomatoes during a visit to Moscow by two members of the National Bolshevik party - which is banned in Russia. The incident comes at a time when diplomatic relations between the two nations are delicate at best. H/t @Kruwella_

Diplomacy is the playpen of babies with razors and amoralistic socialights: dissing Putin the tall Argentinian born queen wore ultra high stiletto heels

Oct. 18, 2013

Dutch-Russian Rift: Hague Annex Burglarized (updated)

According to the police the burglar is a well known serial criminal. Which begs the question, if they know who he is, why isn't he behind bars?

The new King and Queen are expected in Russia for a state visit which will probably to go through as planned (if nothing untoward happens in the meantime...) (Source)

UPDATE: Police: "It's an ordinary burglary". Some personal stuff missing. There has been a spate of robberies in the area. Sure. (Source)

In yet another turn in the story an annex to the Russian diplomatic mission in The Hague has been burglarized. The outpost itself does not have diplomatic status. The police is investigating the matter. It is as yet unclear what happened. (Source)

Oct. 16, 2013

Dutch-Russian Rift Comes to Blows

A senior Dutch diplomat has been assaulted by unidentified assailants at his home in Moscow days after Dutch police arrested his Russian counterpart in The Hague. Two men barged into the home of Onno Elderenbosch, the Dutch deputy head of mission in Russia, late on Tuesday and beat him, tied him up with tape and drew a heart pierced with an arrow on his mirror in pink lipstick, and beneath it the letters LGBT. The Russian foreign ministry said authorities would "take all measures" to find those responsible, working in close partnership with the Dutch, but the incident looks certain to worsen fraying ties between the countries with the king and queen of the Netherlands due to visit Russia next month. 

Upon returning home on Tuesday Elderenbosch found that the lift in the apartment building was not working, and encountered two men posing as electricians, according to Russian media reports. They reportedly asked to check his fourth-floor apartment for electricity, and when he opened the door they overpowered him and forced their way inside. Elderenbosch, 60, sustained minor injuries in the incident. The intruders stole nothing.

Ten days earlier Elderenbosch's opposite number, Dmitry Borodin, the number two in the Russian embassy in the Netherlands, was arrested by police despite having diplomatic immunity. Borodin, who says he was beaten with a police baton, was detained for three hours on 5 October in an incident that Vladimir Putin said violated the Vienna convention. 

Putin demanded a public apology, subsequently issued by the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans. But the Netherlands declined to bring any police officers to account. According to Dutch media reports cited by the AFP news agency, Borodin was found drunk and barely able to stand when police arrived at his home after neighbours complained he was mistreating his children. Russia has rubbished these reports.

In the wake of the incident in The Hague, an aide to Gennady Onishchenko, the chief health inspector known for banning produce from countries at odds with the Kremlin, threatened to impose an import ban on Dutch tulips and dairy products.

Ties between the Netherlands and Russia began to fray conspicuously in September when border guards seized a Dutch-flagged Greenpeace ship that activists used for an environmental protest on an oil rig operated by the Russian state gas giant Gazprom in the Arctic Pechora Sea.

On 4 October the Dutch launched legal proceedings against Russia, hoping to contest the manner by which Russian border guards seized the Arctic Sunrise vessel in international waters before the international tribunal for the law of the sea, which is based in Hamburg.

The Greenpeace activists, among them two Dutch nationals, have been charged with piracy, which carries between 10 and 15 years in jail in Russia. The activists could yet face new charges after investigators claimed they found illegal substances on board the boat. A court in Murmansk, northern Russia, has so far rejected all appeals for bail. Dutch politicians have said they hope legal proceedings will draw further attention to the charges, which have been criticised as baseless.

It is not the first time that diplomats have encountered problems in Russia. Britain's former ambassador Anthony Brenton was hounded for months in 2006 by members of a pro-Kremlin youth group after the murder of Alexander Litvinenko led to a spate of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between the UK and Russia.

The current US ambassador, Michael McFaul, has complained that pro-government television crews have displayed an uncanny knowledge of his movements, suggesting they are able to monitor his phone calls and email correspondence. On Wednesday McFaul condemned the attack of Elderenbosch, writing on Twitter that "such actions are unacceptable".

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was reported to have spoken to his Dutch counterpart by telephone on Wednesday evening to inform him of progress in the investigation, although no details were forthcoming. As well as the Greenpeace incident, Russia and the Netherlands have been at odds over LGBT issues this year. When Putin flew to Amsterdam in April, thousands waved rainbow flags in Amsterdam to protest against Russian legislation prohibiting the distribution of "gay propaganda" among minors.

In July four Dutch nationals who were producing a film about LGBT rights were detained by police in the Russian north and questioned for several hours before being released. They were subsequently banned from returning to Russia for three years, purportedly because they had violated their visa regulations. They are believed to be the first foreigners to have crossed paths with the legislation.

Dutch politicians have urged King Willem-Alexander to cancel his planned visit next month. The king is due in Russia to mark the end of a bilateral project called "Netherlands-Russia year", which was designed to mark 400 years of relations between the two countries. On Wednesday Dutch politicians called for the project to be abandoned entirely.

Cross posted from The Guardian