The Moscow Times cited a Russian newspaper that reported Onno Elderenbosch, who is the deputy chief of mission at the Dutch embassy in Moscow, saw an elevator in his apartment building was not working when he returned home. The publication said Elderenbosch saw two men dressed as electricians when he walked up to his apartment.
The Moscow News cited a Russian law enforcement official who said the two men beat Elderenbosch and ransacked his apartment once he opened the door. The newspaper said the source indicated Elderenbosch’s assailants also drew a heart with an arrow throughout it and the LGBT acronym in lipstick on a mirror inside the diplomat’s home.
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that Elderenbosch, whom he did not identify by name, was “slightly injured” during the attack. He said he had summoned Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands to The Hague over the incident.
“Our people must be able to work safely,” Timmermans said. “I want assurances that the Russian authorities will uphold their responsibilities on that point.”
The Associated Press reported that a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson described the attack as a “deplorable incident.” He said authorities would continue to seek those responsible.
The attack against Elderenbosch took place against the backdrop of growing tension between the Dutch and Russian governments over the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record and a host of other issues.
COC Nederland, a Dutch LGBT rights organization, in April staged a protest outside a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte that coincided with the 400th anniversary of friendship between the two countries. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan refused to meet with Putin during his trip.
Russian authorities in July arrested four Dutch LGBT rights advocates under a law that bans gay propaganda to minors. More than 3,000 people protested the statute and other anti-LGBT measures in the country during a Kremlin-sponsored concert in Amsterdam.
COC Nederland has also criticized the International Olympic Committee over its response to the gay propaganda law and the country’s LGBT rights record ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February. The group has also urged Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima to raise the aforementioned issues on their upcoming trip to Russia next month during which they are scheduled to meet with Putin.
Rutte, who has publicly criticized the Kremlin over its LGBT rights record, described the attack against Elderenbosch as “extremely serious” as the AP reported. The news agency noted he said “we need to get the facts on the table” first.
A Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesperson did not return the Washington Blade’s request for comment on the attack against Elderenbosch and whether he is gay.
COC Nederland Chair Tanja Ineke described the incident as “scandalous.”
“The police must get to the bottom of this,” she said. “It is terrible for the person involved and it appears to be another expression of the rapidly deteriorating climate for LGBT people in Russia.”