A senior Dutch diplomat at the Netherlands embassy in Moscow was assaulted in his home by two men, who, after attacking him, scrawled a heart and the letters LGBT in pink lipstick on a mirror.
Onno Elderenbosch, 60, deputy head of the Netherlands mission in Moscow, was returning home Tuesday night when he noticed his building’s elevator was out of order. According to Life News — or any episode of the original Mission:Impossible series — the diplomat was approached by two men dressed as electricians. Claiming the electricity was out in the entire building, they said they wanted to check if the lights were on in Elderenbosch’s apartment. As soon as the diplomat opened the door, they pushed him inside and proceeded to beat him up. They ransacked the apartment and left their greeting card on his mirror.
Elderenbosch was not badly hurt from the attack and did not seek medical attention. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans confirmed the attack on his Facebook page and urged Russian authorities to take responsibility for the safety of Dutch citizens working there.
The attack comes after a series of international kerfluffles between the two nations, including the detention of 30 members of a Dutch Greenpeace ship; the detention of a Russian diplomat in the Hague; and the arrest of four Dutch tourists under Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law. The Netherlands have launched legal action to free the Greenpeace crew who are being held for piracy and could face up to 15 years in prison. Meanwhile, the two countries are on the eve of celebrating 400 years of relations, so it’s going to be a tepid reunion.
As for the LGBT reference, the Netherlands has long been a haven of LGBT rights — they were the first country to legalize same-sex marriage way back in 2001 — while Russia continues down an increasingly draconian path limiting LGBT rights. A law passed this summer forbids anything perceived as gay “propaganda” in the presence of kids, while the architects behind that gem are campaigning for a ban on gay parents.
According to controversial gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev, the attack was meant to send a message that Russia would not tolerate that kind of Dutch tolerance.
“It [the attack] was deriding the Netherlands and their liberal treatment of sexual minorities,” Alexeyev told Interfax. “I think they [the assailants] did what they did to emphasize that such things are inadmissible in Russia.”