In what may have been payback for the arrest of a Russian diplomat, a senior Dutch diplomat was assaulted in his Moscow apartment last night. After beating and tying up the man, his assailants used lipstick to scrawl “LGBT” on his bathroom mirror.
The attack happened on Tuesday evening when Onno Elderenbosch, the deputy chief of the Dutch embassy in Moscow, was returning home to his fourth-floor apartment on Povarskaya Street in the Russian capital. He was forced to take the stairs after noticing the elevator in the building was not working and was then met by two men posing as electricians who wanted to check if the electricity was working in his apartment. Once Elderenbosch opened the door to his apartment, the men pushed him inside and knocked him to the floor before using duct tape to restrain him. Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s Investigative Committee, said the attackers ransacked the apartment before fleeing the scene. The unidentified men also used lipstick to draw a heart symbol pierced with an arrow on a mirror in the hallway, accompanied by the letters “LGBT” which refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The Dutch government is a strong supporter of LGBT rights and previously criticized Russia for its stance on the issue, which includes a controversial ban on LGBT “propaganda.”
The BBC reports on the incident at The Hague that may have motivated the attack.
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans apologised last week after a Russian diplomat was arrested. Dmitri Borodin was held for several hours on suspicion of mistreating his two young children, prompting President Vladimir Putin to demand the Dutch apology. Protests were held outside the Dutch embassy in response to the arrest. After an investigation, the Dutch foreign minister conceded that police had breached the rules on diplomatic immunity.
News reports do not say if Elderenbosch is gay. The US ambassador to Russia tweeted a condemnation of the attack this morning.