Putin demands apology from Netherlands over diplomat detention

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday demanded that the Netherlands apologise after a diplomat working for the Russian embassy in the Hague was detained by police and questioned for hours.

"This is the most gross breach of the Vienna Convention. We are waiting for explanations and apologies and also for those guilty to be punished," Mr Putin was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti state news agency at a regional summit in Indonesia.

"We will react depending on how the Dutch side behaves," he told reporters.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday morning handed a note of protest to the Dutch ambassador to Russia over the incident, the ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told Russian news agencies.

"Last weekend, armed people in camouflage uniform stormed the apartment of Dmitry Borodin, a minister counsellor at the Russian embassy, and roughly beat up the diplomat in front of his children, on the absolutely made-up excuse that he allegedly mistreated them," Lukashevich told Interfax news agency.

"Our diplomat was put in handcuffs and taken to a police station where he was held almost all night," Lukashevich said, adding that the diplomat had told police of his status.

"After that he was let go without any explanations or apologies." The case has been covered widely on Russian state television.

"We are aware of the incident and are looking into it before commenting," a spokesman at the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Thijs van Son, told AFP.

Dutch police refused to comment.

Ties between Russia and the Netherlands sharply deteriorated after Russian investigators last week charged 30 crew members of Greenpeace's Dutch-flagged ship with piracy over a protest against Arctic oil drilling.

The Netherlands said it had started a legal action to free the Greenpeace activists.

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