A Norwegian diplomat, angry that someone had tampered with her things in a Murmansk hotel room earlier this summer, unleashed a torrent of abuse against hotel staff that was captured on surveillance video. Portions of the video have since been released to media in both Russia and abroad, embarrassing both the diplomat and the Norwegian government, while some think Russian intelligence is behind the highly undiplomatic incident.
“I hate the Russians,” fumed the diplomat while accusing the hotel of also violating the accommodation of a colleague at the hotel as they were in the process of closing Norway’s consulate in Murmansk. She also complained that the cleanliness of her room was not up to her standards from Scandinavia, calling the hotel staff “a disgrace” and swearing at them repeatedly.
Norway’s foreign ministry has apologized for the incident and claimed it in no way illustrated Norwegian policy or Norwegian attitudes towards Russians. The ministry wouldn’t directly comment on whether the diplomat faces punitive action, saying only that the case “would now be handled internally.”
The Kirkenes-based Barents Observer, which specializes in coverage of Arctic and Russian issues, told state broadcaster NRK that it had declined to publish the video, suspecting it was intentionally released by Russian intelligence to embarrass Norway. Editor Thomas Nilsen likened release of the hotel’s surveillance video as a ‘good riddance’ message from Russian officials when Norwegian diplomats pulled out of Murmansk in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Others tend to agree, with a former ambassador and a professor questioning why the video was released. The diplomat’s temper tantrum “was unfortunate and doesn’t represent Norwegian diplomats views on Russians or Russia as I see it, but at the same time I wonder why the Russians found it opportune to make this episode public,” Leir Arne Ulland told state broadcaster NRK. Iver B Neumann, director of the Frithjof Nansen Institute, was also skeptical.
“One thing is that a Norwegian diplomat would say such things, but it’s also strange that the Russians are making a big deal out of this at the national level,” Neumann told NRK. He thinks the episode will be used within Russia to build up a views that the whole world hates Russia, to further fuel Russian nationalism.