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Breakfast with Frost
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His Excellency Grigory Karasin, Russian ambassador
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: HIS EXCELLENCY GRIGORY KARASIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR OCTOBER 27TH, 2002

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

DAVID FROST: Well let's go back to the story that was dominating those front pages, the ending of the siege of the Moscow theatre. With me now is the Russian Ambassador to London, His Excellency Grigory Karasin. Your excellency, good morning.

GRIGORY KARASIN: Good morning David.

DAVID FROST: First of all, our condolences to all the Russians who lost their lives in this tragedy.

GRIGORY KARASIN: Thank you. Could I also take this opportunity to pass our warm words of gratitude to all those Britons who gave a sign of solidarity and a feeling of warmth towards us during those three traumatic days. And of course to our colleagues in the Foreign Office and special services who assisted in many ways.

DAVID FROST: In one paper it says that we sent some people out there to see if they could help. Did we?

GRIGORY KARASIN: Indeed. Indeed. There was a group of people who went there, five experts in anti-terrorist activities, and I think they were very helpful both to British hostages and to our people who were dealing with that terrorist attack on Moscow.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of the gas, which obviously seemed like a masterstroke in terms of knocking out the people who might blow up the theatre, what's the truth in these stories - because you know - the truth that these stories that the gas caused some of the injuries and so on to the hostages and so on?

GRIGORY KARASIN: Well, you see, our special forces were dealing with a pre-planned, carefully co-ordinated terrorist attack on Moscow. Our joint war against terrorism is not yet over so I would understand people in our special services who wouldn't like to open all the details of our operation, including gas. But I do sincerely hope that all the hostages will fully recover from the aftermath of the shock and the siege and others and will again be with us.

DAVID FROST: And obviously this must be a new weapon, because of the secrecy and so on, but I think they ought to tell the doctors because the doctors are complaining that they don't know what to treat.

GRIGORY KARASIN: Well I'm quite sure, I'm quite sure that that work is being done. I'm not a professional specialist in that but my assumption would be that that is being done.

DAVID FROST: What is the effect of this going to be? I mean will there be renewed hostilities in Chechnya? Obviously President Putin is not going to give up on dealing with Chechnya, will there be revenge attacks and things like that?

GRIGORY KARASIN: Well I am quite sure that the terrorists, when they planned the attack, they thought of some dangerous things but they achieved the results which are absolutely contrary to the aims they put in front of them. What we need now - we have to choose - we have to be very precise and constructive when we speak about Chechnya. We have to assist the administration, which is there, headed by Mr Kadyrov we should assist in trying to prepare the referendum and the constitution. In other words all the international community has to be united, and not playing games around it. It's not, no chance for words but it should be some practical deeds.

DAVID FROST: President Putin was quoted somewhere as talking about the fact that there were foreign elements involved in this and the Telegraph has said that possibly al-Qaeda may have been involved in some way. Is that possibly true or just too easy to say?

GRIGORY KARASIN: Well I think investigation is there, and here we need international co-operation, I think, and exchange of information with certain services in Britain, Europe, United States, because we are dealing with international terrorism. Well it was, last year it was New York, this year it's Moscow, nobody knows where it will come next. So we have to understand the roots of the terrorism, we have to understand the co-ordinators and be really precise and very tough.

DAVID FROST: So really this is part of the world-wide war on terror, you think?

GRIGORY KARASIN: Yes.

DAVID FROST: And probably with an al-Qaeda involvement?

GRIGORY KARASIN: I, I am totally sure that it's not only a group of those people who attacked Moscow during those three tragic days but there was a wider scheme.

DAVID FROST: And in fact there must be closer and closer co-ordination between your secret services and our secret services and America's ...

GRIGORY KARASIN: No, no we - I think that, that work is being done - and I think we have to widen our co-operation. People understand that, here in London and there in Moscow.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much Ambassador. We appreciate it. Thank you.

INTERVIEW ENDS

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