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Breakfast with Frost
Sir Roderic Lyne, British ambassador to Russia

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: More than 500 people are said to be still recovering in hospital from the effects of the gas used by Russian special forces when they broke the siege of the Moscow theatre. One piece of good news is that the three Britons who were held hostage by the Chechen rebels, two towards the end, survived the ordeal. Later in the programme I'll be talking to Russia's Ambassador to London, their man in London, but let's begin with our man in Moscow, who's been right there following this closely. Sir Roderic, good morning.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Good morning.

DAVID FROST: You said 24 hours ago that basically several hundred lives may have been saved by this action, and given that up to 700 hostages were being held and so on and so forth, that in the end you saw it as a successful operation. Do you still see it that way?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: It seems clear that several hundred deaths have been averted by this operation. There was a very dangerous situation building up inside that theatre. You had a large group of ruthless and carefully prepared terrorists who were holding hundreds of innocent people; they had started to kill them; and we have ended up with a situation in which, distressingly, a large number of lives have been lost, and that is of course very upsetting. But at the same time there are several hundred people who have come out of the theatre where there was a lot of explosives. And we're very grateful that the British family of three, who were in that theatre, are now safe and well.

DAVID FROST: And one of them is in hospital, right? Still - or at least was last night.


DAVID FROST: Is he out.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: No, no they're all reunited together. I went to the hospital last night -

DAVID FROST: And staying with you I think.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: They're staying with us in the embassy and they're all in very good condition. I went to the hospital where Richard Low was. The atmosphere there was completely calm, and they've been seen by our embassy doctor, they're not suffering any obvious physical ill-effects from this at all, and half an hour ago, when I spoke to Peter Low, his wife and son were sleeping.

DAVID FROST: And in fact did you discover, in visits to hospitals and talking to the Russians, anything more about this question, this horny question this morning of the gas, the effects of the gas on the hostages?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: No I don't know what was used. Mrs Low and Richard Low both passed out and so they remember very little from the time that they left the theatre to the time that they found themselves in hospital. But Mrs Low was back with us very quickly, Richard Low a few hours later, and as I say they're both in remarkably good physical condition and they, it's the only hard evidence I have, they are not suffering any obvious ill-effects.

DAVID FROST: And what did they tell you about the ordeal of those three days and what it was like to be in that theatre?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Well you can imagine this was a terrifying experience for them, we, our main concern was to get the family reunited and to check that they were well and I haven't tried at this stage to get them to talk in great detail about their experience. But they could see that the tension was building up inside the theatre, they heard one of the hostages being killed and clearly for all of the people in there it was very frightening.

DAVID FROST: And what instructions would the Foreign Office be giving today, to people planning to travel to Moscow? Travel as usual? Business as usual, or not?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: We're reviewing our travel advice. This was a very carefully planned attack on a Moscow theatre but I should point out that for the last three years, Moscow has not suffered any other similar episodes. In general it's been a safe place for people to live and I don't expect to see members of the large, international community living here leaving town as a result of this. I think the Russian authorities will want to review their security arrangements very carefully, we will review our travel advice to people and we do continue to advise people not to go anywhere near the area of Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much Sir Roderic, thank you for joining us this morning.


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