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India-U.S. Relationship Tested Over Diplomat Flap; Security Questions About Russia Ahead of Sochi Winter Olympics; Chinese Filmmaker Fined; Killing Elephants

Aired January 10, 2014 - 12:30   ET


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As we saw soon after that diplomat in the U.S., India ordered a lot of the barricades around the U.S. embassy here in Delphi to be removed.

Then they asked U.S. embassy officials to declare how much they were own nannies, their own housekeepers, here in India. And then, just yesterday, India asked the U.S. embassy here to shut down a very popular American club, which is inside the U.S. embassy.

It was really a haven for a lot of the expatriates here, a very popular restaurant, bar, swimming pool, even a bowling alley. And they said that a lot of non-diplomats were also using this, and this was illegal.

So India really signaling to the U.S. that, if the U.S. is going to be so strict about following their own rulebook as far as this Indian diplomat is concerned, then India too is going to be strict about following its own rulebook.

And that's, of course, as Devyani Khobragade has just arrived. She -- her airplane landed 13 minutes ago in India.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: It seems -- I guess it's a way of, you know, annoying people, you know, close the club and the bowling alley, but it seems rather petty on both sides here.

Is there a moment where you get over this stuff, you move on and you say, you know, we're going to cut out the tit-for-tat here on the ground and work on the real deal of relationships?

UDAS: Well, that is certainly the hope, and the Indian government has continued to say that this is not really a tit-for-tat, that when it comes to relationships between two countries, a diplomatic relationship between any two countries, then it really comes down to reciprocity.

So, an Indian diplomat living in the U.S. should be treated the same way a U.S. diplomat would be expected to be treated in India. It really just comes down to reciprocity. So that's why the Indian government has been cracking down, really, here, Suzanne. MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Less than a month until the Winter Olympic games opening in Sochi, Russia, and the man with a lot riding on Olympic success, of course, President Vladimir Putin.

He says that Russia is ready. Not everybody's so confident. We're live, next, from Moscow.


MALVEAUX: Russia, preparing to host the world for the Olympics, of course, the Black Sea resort town of Sochi on super-high alert in light of the terror threat to the games, even as our FBI sends agents to help keep people safe.

Since October, there have been three suicide bombings just 100 miles away in Volgograd.

Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, he's reporting on the new security measures that are being put into place all around the region.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the wake of twin terror bombings in Sochi's nearest major transport hub, Volgograd, where 34 people died, Russia's top Olympic official tells CNN he is convinced they've got their Olympic security formula right.

DIMITRY CHERNYSHENKO, PRESIDENT, OLYMPIC ORGANIZING COMMITTEE: It didn't change at all, our initial Olympic mode in terms of screening, and in terms of the security.

ROBERTSON: The Sochi security systems got a test from the top-down a year ago, he insists. President Putin oversaw rehearsals.

CHERNYSHENKO: It's project number one in our country and it's under the permanent control of President Putin himself.

ROBERTSON: But on Wednesday and Thursday this week, barely 170 miles, 240 kilometers, away from the newly constructed Olympic village, six bodies were found in four vehicles, some rigged to explosives, one detonating as police approached.

New vehicle security checks just enforced in an exclusion zone around Sochi are designed to keep just such threats at bay. Officials here are holding their nerve.

CHERNYSHENKO: We hosted an incredible amount of international (inaudible) World Cup world championship was a great test for security.

ROBERTSON: But it's not enough for everyone.

FBI Director James Comey says U.S. law enforcement and federal officials are already here in Russia, ready to assist American athletes in what he describes as a particularly challenging safety environment in Sochi.

U.S. athletes can also count on security help from Global Rescue, a medical and security contractor that's no stranger to danger, airlifting Americans from Egypt during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Russian officials remain convinced they are ready, even though the latest shootings leave many more questions than answers.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.


MALVEAUX: And, of course, when people wonder if Sochi is ready for the games, they're also talking about the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

He upset a lot of folks when he put the hammer down on political protests in Sochi and over his official position on gay rights and gay athletes who will compete in Sochi.

But Vladimir Putin has declared that the city is ready for the games.

No better person to talk about all of this and his leadership than our own Jill Dougherty, former Moscow bureau chief and one of the network's most experienced people when it comes to all things Putin, all things Russia, as well.

And Jill, it's really fascinating. We get a chance to talk to you about this. I know you're doing a doc on Putin himself before the Olympic Games.

There's a lot to learn, and there's a lot to glean from this man, many different characteristics -- had a chance when I was in Moscow to actually see him and Obama, face-to-face. This is a guy who hunts on his property. He loves to be bare-chested. There's a lot of machismo behind him.

Give us a sense of what you have learned in the years and years that you have covered him that perhaps we don't know or don't even understand. What is behind this?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, what we try to do in this documentary, and it's still being edited right now, but we went to Russia. We went to -- back to where he came from, when he was a little kid.

So we went to the home that he grew up in, which is a communal. I was really pretty shocked, graffiti all over the place. You're in St. Petersburg, at that point, Leningrad. The street where he lives is very modest.

The area down below where he used to play had cats, and at that point, he said, rats. He used to literally beat them off with a stick. Very limited circumstances, you know, and the other thing about him was he was kind of a tough guy as a little kid. He was always getting into fights.

He was always late for school. And the thing that saved him was judo. And I think when you look at those pictures --


DOUGHERTY: -- and you see him as a sports person, that is really a very important part of his life, because if he hadn't gotten into the discipline of judo, he might never have become the person that he is.

MALVEAUX: And what do you make -- you were in the press conference just three weeks ago, that four-hour extravaganza there.

And what do you think of what he's doing now, preparing for the Olympics? Because you see he released -- in one instance, he says, OK, I'm not for gay rights, but then he seems to back off that a little bit.

DOUGHERTY: Everyone's welcome.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Right.

And then Pussy Riot, he releases -- he arrests them and then he has them released.

What do you make of his behavior now?

DOUGHERTY: I think what he's doing, you have to kind of stand back and say, what are these Olympics about?

And these Olympics are a symbol of Russia. Russia, Putin would say, is back on the stage. Forget the weak days after the end of the Soviet Union, we're back, we're, you know, kicking and we want to show we're one of the important countries of the world.

So the Olympics to him are not just the Olympic Games. It's a symbol of Russia as a big nation. Can he pull this off?

It's an interesting place to do it, because this used to be the old -- I guess you would call it kind of Miami Beach of the Soviet Union. It's closer to the Middle East than it is to Moscow.


DOUGHERTY: So the symbolism, multiethnic, multi-religion, et cetera, is all meant as a symbol of Russia.

MALVEAUX: Do you think that he believes that he still has some influence and some power? Do you think what he's doing is because he doesn't believe it?

DOUGHERTY: I think he feels that, in his own country, he's basically written off the big cities. St. Petersburg, Moscow, they're liberal. They're Western-oriented.

Yeah, forget it. He's not going to convince them to like him.

But out in the hinterland, he still does have some support. And I think he's playing on that, but he also feels that he has gotten the act together, Russia's act together. He feels that they're influential. Remember the proposal on Syrian chemical weapons. That was the first instance.

And I think you're going to see more and more of Putin really showing that he can be a leader on the par of other world leaders.

MALVEAUX: And, Jill, before you go, I have to congratulate you, because I know you're moving on after the documentary to bigger and better things and think tanks and Russia, the whole bit.

But you and I met in 1997 -

DOUGHERTY: Oh, yeah.

MALVEAUX: And this was former Hillary Clinton's -- the former first lady Hillary Clinton's trip, and it was such a small group of us. I think there were 10 of us that were on that plane.

And I think we have some pictures, as well. There you are! That was 17 years ago. There you are, right there, on the right there.

And it was an extraordinary trip, but we went all over the place, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, you name it, and you were just amazing.

You took me under my wing and I really appreciate everything you did. I believe we were doing coverage, it was 30 degrees below zero when we were out there doing live shots.

DOUGHERTY: Yes. And it still is.

MALVEAUX: I wish you the very best, Jill.

DOUGHERTY: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks again. We'll have you on, as always, as the Russian expert.

DOUGHERTY: Perfect. Love to.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks.

And an Oscar-nominated filmmaker fined for more than $1 million, this for having too many children.

We're going to take a look at why, up next.


MALVEAUX: This is an incredible story. A high-profile film director in China now slapped with a huge fine for violating the country's one child policy. Zhang Yimou was recognized around the world. You might know him for his film, "Raise the Red Lantern." Well, what's really surprising about all this is that China recently relaxed their one child law. Our Anna Coren is in Beijing with the details.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Despite the softening of China's one child policy, the government here has decided to make an example of one of the country's most acclaimed film directors, fining him $1.2 million for violating the law. Zhang Yimou and his wife have admitted to having three children and have since apologized saying they are sorry for having, quote, excessive children, and accept their punishment.

Well, the one child policy was introduced here back in the late 1970s to help curb the surging population. China is, of course, the most populist nation in the world with 1.3 billion people. But late last year, the family planning law was eased, where couples are now allowed to have two children if one of the parents is an only child.

But this new law is not going to help Zhang. The Oscar nominee and director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics has until the end of the month to pay the hefty fine.

Anna Coren, CNN, Beijing.


MALVEAUX: Afghanistan about to release now a lot of people from prison. U.S. officials, they have a big problem with that. They say some of these men have links to terrorists and have American blood on their hands. Details up next.


MALVEAUX: The State Department says that dangerous criminals involved in killing dozens of U.S. and Afghan troops are about to be released from an Afghan prison. That's right. Afghan President Hamid Karzai authorized the release of the 72 inmates after an Afghan spy agency said there was no evidence against them. Well, the State Department says there is strong evidence linking the prisoners to terror-related crimes, and they're a security threat to the United States.

A warning today from U.S. intelligence officials over a new terror threat. "The New York Times" says there are growing fears that Islamic extremists in Syria are trying to recruit Americans who have traveled to Syria to carry out terror attacks here at home. The recruitment efforts are said to be in the early stages. FBI Director James Comey says that tracking Americans who have returned from Syria have become a top priority.

And a Minnesota man who spent nine months in an Abu Dhabi prison, well, he's now back home, but still angry at the United Arab Emirates. Authorities claim that Shezanne Cassim broke cyber-crime laws with his parody video that he made while he was living in Dubai. Well, you had a lot of outrage.

People, celebrity comedians, Will Ferrell, Pat (INAUDIBLE) rallied behind him, calling for his release. Cassim, he was sentenced to a year in prison, got out early for serving good time, good behavior, and he says for months he wasn't told why he was locked up and the judge hadn't even watched the video.


SHEZANNE CASSIM, RELEASED FROM ABU DHABI PRISON: I think there's a -- there's a misconception that I broke a law. But I want to say that I did nothing wrong. There was nothing illegal about the video, even under UAE law. I was tried in a textbook kangaroo court and I was convicted without any evidence.


MALVEAUX: Cassim still fighting that one. He says that the facility, it was bare bones where he stayed. He didn't have a TV or access to really any information. But he says that the guards did treat him well.

A new memorial in Tel Aviv. It's the first of its kind in Israel. It honors gay and lesbian victims of a Holocaust. The monument shows a pink triangle, which was the symbol that Nazis forced them to wear in concentration camps. It is believed up to 15,000 people were killed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the first holocaust memorial in Israel dedicated to both Jewish and non- Jewish victims.

And the fight against elephant poachers in Africa leads our Arwa Damon into the forest. Hear why she says many are forced to kill elephants in the form of a modern-day slavery, up next.


MALVEAUX: It's hard to believe that more than 10,000 people in Colombia have been killed or injured by land mines since 1990. That is more than any other country, except Afghanistan. Well now there's a design firm that has come up with an electronic device that fits inside a shoe to detect mines. So if an explosive device is within a few feet, sends a warning signal to a wristband telling the person to change direction. The firm is now looking for funding to get this device on the market.

All this week CNN has been reporting -- this is a horrible situation. This is the killing of thousands of elephants every year. Problem is so bad, Central Africa has now lost almost two-thirds of its elephants. Arwa Damon, she has been going along in the hunt for poachers in the Congo and she found a group of people, known as pygmies, who are often bullied into killing the elephants just to survive.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gunfire rings out. We try to keep up at the eco-guard unit charges after elephant poachers. Brice Moupele returns and describes how he wrestled a gun away from the suspected poacher. Today, he's a hero. Growing up, he was anything but.

Moupele was a poacher. He used his knowledge of the forest to kill elephants for their tusks. As a pygmy, he had grown up in the forest and knew its ways. But he also knew that he was born into a long- suffering minority, smaller in stature because of centuries of adaptation to life in the forests.

When they were forced to emerge, pygmies found themselves routinely abused by the Bontu (ph) majority.

"Yes, they used to hit me a lot. The Bontu's even kicked people violently," Moupele tells us.

He learned to hunt with his father, who was dispatched into the forest by his Bontu masters.

"He was never paid. He wasn't even able to show anything for his job. My father died not even leaving us with anything."

Moupele says he had no choice but to follow his father's footsteps.

"I had to go to the forest and kill the elephants. There was no work," he explains.

He began exploiting the very forest that gave birth to the pygmy culture of harmonious existence with nature. He isn't alone.

PAUL TELFER, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY: They're being abused. They're the only one that really know the forest well enough to go into these remote areas and stand up to an elephant and pull the trigger. And they're, you know, they come out with the ivory and they give the ivory to somebody else and they're either not compensated, so they just got a little bit of meat, or maybe they're just given $100 at the most and that's it.

DAMON: The majority of indigenous people here still don't have access to education, medical care, or even proper birth certificates.

DAMON (on camera): Would you call it a form of modern-day slavery?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. Definitely.

DAMON (voice-over): UNICEF says, while the governor has taken notice, the initiatives in the capital have been slow to reach the remote forests that still cover most of this country. At stake, a culture that is fast disappearing and along with it the elephants and an unrivaled knowledge of the forest that both poachers and protectors want to exploit.

TELFER: They need education. They have the right to education. They have the right to everything that everyone does. But they learn that PhD in forestology from the age that they're starting to crawl and they're in the forest every day, and that's how they learn it. And when you take these kids out of the forest and put them in school, they lose their culture. They lose their capacity to live in the forest. They lose their cultural identity.

DAMON: Moupele is still using the skills learned as a young boy, but his choice now is to protect the forest as an eco-guard. Moupele takes us to meet his mother.

"I am proud. My son stopped poaching," she tells us. "I am now proud of him."

In a community pushed to the edge, his is a story of redemption.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Odzala National Park, Republic of Congo.


MALVEAUX: Excellent reporting.

Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now. Have a great weekend.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we are waiting for a big document drop in New Jersey.