CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

PRIME MINISTER – USE OF GAS IN MOSCOW – 28 October 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: As the Prime Minister raised the question of hostage taking in Moscow, will he tell us whether he can think of one good reason why President Putin is refusing to divulge to his own doctors the nature of the poisonous gas that has made so many of the hostages so ill? Will he use his good offices to make representations to President Putin to enable his own doctors to know what antidotes they need to apply? Otherwise, much of the sympathy which President Putin deservedly had for his dilemma will promptly evaporate.

[The Prime Minister: I understand the concern behind the hon. Gentleman's question. I am sure that, consistent with Russian security, further answers will be given to such questions. I hope that people understand that the Russian President, as I could tell when I spoke to him on Friday, was faced with an agonising and painful decision. These people will stop at absolutely nothing and have no hesitation in killing large numbers of innocent people. We know that those taking hostages had explosives strapped to their bodies and were willing to give their lives in a massive terrorist attempt to destroy as many lives as possible. These are difficult decisions, but I am sure that, in due course, we will get some answers on those points and others.]