Sunday 27 November 2022

The Netherlands-Russia friendship year: the incidents

The Netherlands and Russia have been celebrating 400 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. But the festivities have been marred by protests and diplomatic incidents.

The year-long programme of events was designed to bring Russia and the Netherlands closer together but not all has gone according to plan. Here is a round-up of the main incidents.

January 17: Russian asylum seeker Aleksandr Domatov commits suicide in a Dutch deportation centre, even though he should not have been locked up. Dolmatov came to the Netherlands saying he did not feel safe in Russia as an opponent of Vladimir Putin.

April 8: Several thousand people take part in a demonstration in favour of gay rights during a whirlwind visit to Amsterdam by Putin. Speaking to the media after talks with prime minister Mark Rutte, Putin reportedly said he did not understand why the Netherlands has a legal organisation for paedophiles and why there is a political party which bans women from getting involved in politics – a reference to the fundamentalist Christian SGP.

June 30: Putin signs a new law making ‘pro-homosexuality propaganda’ a criminal offence. This lead to widespread international condemnation, including in the Netherlands and calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics.

July 10: Russia said it would not carry out any further investigation into the death of Dutch cameraman Stan Storimans, who died in 2008 during fighting between Russia and Georgia. Dutch researchers believe he died in a Russian bombardment and are taking the issue to the European Court of Human Rights.

August 26: Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan calls on the government to make a formal complaint against Russia for human rights abuses. Van der Laan made the call during a rally and concert entitled ‘To Russia with Love’ ahead of a gala concert on the Museumplein organised by Russia as part of the Netherlands-Russia year. Van der Laan attended both events.

September 19: Russia arrests the 30-strong crew of Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise who were protesting at Gasprom drilling in Russia’s Arctic waters. The crew, including two Dutch nationals, face piracy charges. The ship, flying under the Dutch flag, has been seized. The Netherlands is taking the issue to an international tribunal.

September 30: Two journalists responsible for a documentary project about the Sochi Olympics project, including claims of corruption and human rights abuses, are refused a visa for Russia.

October 6: Police in The Hague arrest Russian diplomat Dmitri Borodin after neighbours complain he is drunk and abusing his children. The Netherlands made a formal apology but foreign minister Frans Timmermans went on to say he understood the police action.

October 9: Russian food safety authorities say the Netherlands is not strict enough on its supervision of the dairy industry and Russian inspectors have to start tougher inspections of imports.

October 15: The number two at the Dutch embassy in Moscow is beaten up by two men at his home. Russia condemns the attack and promises a full investigation.

October 17: A building owned by the Russian embassy in The Hague is broke into overnight.

Compiled from archives, RTL news and the Volkskrant.

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