Diplomatic Disbelief

Even though the economy is about to take a weird leap, which will be discussed in the next blog, the events as they unfolded on last night’s news by the NOS is taking a weird step to say the least.

So, on Tuesday evening, the NOS decided to release information on events that happened last Saturday. Now, these things happen. Whether it is just average news, or embargoed news, the fact that diplomatic grounds were transgressed upon, whilst as far as it seems with an utter lack of viable reasons is something that seldom happens. It might actually be a Dutch first, but there it is, the Dutch police thought it was to some level a good idea to enter the premises of a member of the Russian Diplomatic Corps.

Since when is that not major news?

So let us go over the facts for as much as we can.

As the NOS reported, on Saturday the Russian diplomat Dmitry Borodin was arrested in his apartment. This was due to neighbour complaints about the safety and danger to his children.

So, here

  • First, diplomatic grounds were violated.
  • Second, the diplomat was taken away, even though, according to his statement, he pointed out his diplomatic immunity.

Subtotal: this fiasco at this point involved the Dutch home office and the Dutch foreign office.

There are additional issues with the Vienna Convention on Relations and Optional Protocol on Disputes, but about that part later.

So let’s look at the time line.

This happened on Saturday evening, which means that the police commissioner should have received a phone call that scared him to death before midnight. He then wakes up the Dutch ministers Ronald Plasterk (Home office), Frans Timmermans (Foreign Office) and Ivo Opstelten (Justice). The simple reason is that when you miscommunicate from the top, you want that list to remain as short as possible. At that point, the arresting officers will get the picture that it will be a long weekend for them, as they get grilled and checked on every piece of paper they create.

The Russian side was simple; the man was released after three hours.

So at this point, it is Sunday, it is way too soon for lunch. Those four individuals are (or should be) earning their pay. However, did this happen? It seems not, as Kysia Hekster, NOS reporter investigates her story, I see none of these matters. The fact, that after the trivial matters that the NOS reported on Sunday and Monday and, this Tuesday story smells like Hamlet, (a foul stench that is coming from the news).

Important to realise that in the first, we do not know whether the policemen were morally wrong, they were definitely legally wrong to enter diplomatic premises. I wonder what their side is on all this, as I would want to hear this. The fact that Sky News did not seem to have picked this up and the Guardian picked it up only after the Netherlands did seems to indicate that several levels of embargo in place.

I have to admit that several facts do not add up. For one that only after arrival at the police station people learned that this was a diplomat. The fact that the address did not raise flags is an issue on several levels. You see, partially I am all for a new cold war. However, it would be nice if we start being clever about it on how we start this and not give away the cheese on these levels of ‘silliness’. The statement by Annemieke Vermeer-Kunzki is acceptable. She stated that ‘the Dutch are likely wrong’. She is holding out for space as she might not have all the facts. There are of course issues if the children were clearly in danger. I am not claiming that fact to be true or false, I just do not have viable data on that claim.

What is, however really clear, is that this circus, which started on Saturday, is only now getting into the visible light of newscasting. So interesting to see how this evolves, especially as news agencies, who are always claiming ‘the people have a right to know‘ seem to remain to be in the dark on these events? I reckon that at present it sucks to be a minister (one of the three mentioned that is).

There are more considerations. No matter how right or how wrong, President Putin will not take kindly to this. The Russian Diplomatic Corps is his shiny horse and officials messing with this will get the wrong side of the lime light. It will be interesting to see what Director Bartholee of the AIVD (Dutch version of MI-5) will do. No matter how morally right the policemen might have been, they might be in hot waters in more than one way. The response on NOS news by Foreign office minister Timmermans is also out of bounds (to some extent). It is nice to ‘await the report‘, however when this information is released three days after the event, then it is time to ask questions in these matters, especially with such an international event. In addition, the NOS was really not that active in asking the ministers involved the questions that needed to be asked, especially when most of the ‘news’ is about budget meetings that are not moving forward (about that part more in my next blog).

We will see this unfold, yet the lack of visibility whilst CNN reports on a couple who survives a near-fatal hike, how BBC world release information on 4 Spanish members released in Mexico. It seems to me that there was nothing on this event on any of those stations. Even Sky News seemed to have nothing, just that a ‘New Dreamliner is on its way‘. In a time when our privacies seem to be blowing in the wind, as we see a headline like ‘Regulation will be imposed on press as politicians reject self-regulation’, where the quote “Tom Harris, a former minister, warns on Wednesday that his party is undermining freedom.” and at the same time, those Journalists do not act on a story of diplomatic trespass gives more than one indication that the PRESS seems to have lost view on the things that should matter.

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