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Olympics and Terrorism; Storm Moving Out; CNN Crew Roughed Up; CNN Reporter Roughed Up by Chinese Officials; War of Words at Syrian Peace Conference

Aired January 22, 2014 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And a war of words at a conference seeking peace in Syria. Syria's foreign oh minister spars with the head of the U.N.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You spoke 25 minutes. I am - I came here -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I know you have (INAUDIBLE) to speak.



MALVEAUX: And the bitter cold and snow closing roads and schools throughout the northeast.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

Well, the Olympics get nearer and the world getting more worried even whether or not the winter games are going to be safe. It happened again. Somebody sent a warning, this time by e-mail, saying visitors and athletes will be in danger from terrorists when they're in Sochi, Russia.

That's right, the e-mail went to Olympic officials in several countries. Now, the IOC is taking the warning seriously, but doesn't believe that it is necessarily a credible threat. A former mayor, who knows what it is like to be the target of terrorists, was on CNN earlier today.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: The minute you told the Olympics in a place, whether it's Salt Lake City or it's Rio de Janeiro or it's London, you have actually brought all the world problems to you. So, yes, Sochi is dangerous because it's close to the Caucasus. However, the minute you have an Olympics, every one of these causes gets attracted to you and you've got to have enormous security. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Russian forces, they are hunting down, burning out, in some cases killing terror suspects with the start of the games now just two weeks away. Our Phil Black is in southern Russia with more.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An intensifying security crackdown, as the threat of terrorism grows in the lead up to the Sochi Olympic games. Explosive new images amid Russian state news reports that police killed a suspected militant leader, Eldar Magatov, in this shoot-out in Dagestan Tuesday. In addition, reports that the leaders of the Caucasus Emirate terrorist cell has been killed in Dagestan. This region, east of Sochi, has become a hot bed for Islamic insurgents after years of unrest.

CHRISTOPHER SWIFT, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: From their point of view, they don't have to succeed with an operation, it's just enough to try. Whereas the Russian security services, they have to have a zero percent failure rate in order to have a successful outcome here.

BLACK: President Obama offered full U.S. assistance during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday. A U.S. official says the Joint Chiefs have discussed the idea of providing Russia with high-tech aid to help with IED detection and jamming equipment. Still, there is concern.

SWIFT: The ring of steel doesn't help you deal with a single individual or small teams of individuals who are already in place and already ready to move.

BLACK: Possibly already on the move, three suspected women terrorists known as black widows. Hotels in the area distributing flyers, warning people to be on the lookout for these female suicide bombers. Police believe one of the women may have been killed in a gun battle over the weekend, while another, 22-year-old Ruzanna Ibragimova, is believed to be already in Sochi.

SWIFT: They tend to be more ruthless. They tend to be more focused. And they also tend to hit civilian targets rather than the security services. And that's a big change and poses a substantial risk for people at the Olympics.

BLACK: A challenge being met with growing force.


MALVEAUX: And Phil Black is joining us from Volgograd.

Phil, I understand we talked a couple days ago, that is where the Olympic torch was passed, and the security along that relay route very, very much intense there. What are we learning new about specifically where you are and how they're handling the potential threats? BLACK: Well, the potential threat regarding the torch relay is considered to be quite high at the moment, Suzanne, because one of the threats that Russian authorities have uncovered, or believe they have uncovered, involves black widows targeting the torch relay in the city of Rostov-on-Don. That it where it has traveled to from Volgograd. It's where the torch has been yesterday and today. And the threat that they believe they have uncovered involves a number of black widows planning suicide attacks against that torch relay, as it now gets closer to Sochi itself.

And the reason we know this is because once again, as we've discussed with other black widow threats in Sochi itself, the authorities have not discussed this publicly, but they have gone to certain members of the public, in particular hotel workers, to try and ask them to keep an eye out for these women, to identify the threat before it could potentially be carried out, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Phil, that - I mean that's an extraordinary development here, if they're actually going to target the torch relay here. Is there more security regarding the torch relay or do authorities feel that they're confident in protecting Sochi? I mean it's a whole different matter when you've got a moving target, literally a torch that's being passed from person to person, city to city.

BLACK: Yes, indeed, but the -- it was really the attacks here in Volgograd, just at the end of last year, that changed the perspective, I think, to some degree on the security operation. Russian authorities always said that Sochi itself is secure. That has been the focus. That has been locked down.

But the attacks in Volgograd have kind of proved the point that terrorists don't need to hit Sochi itself to make a point. And certainly, with the torch relay, it is a symbol of the Olympics. It has been attracting great crowds as it has been traveling across this vast country for some months now. It is certainly a potential target. And from the security that we saw here in Volgograd, well, it was really very, very significant.


BLACK: Quite small crowds of onlookers, big crowds of security. So it clearly reflects a concern among the authorities.

MALVEAUX: All right, Phil Black, thank you very much. We appreciate that.

The thousand-mile winter storm -- we're talking about a thousand-mile, actually hit from Kentucky to New England. It is now heading out to the Atlantic Ocean. But this bitter cold, it's not going anywhere. I want you to check out the storm that has left behind the heaviest snowfall of the winter. More than a foot in some places.

You've got roads closed, snowplows out in Washington, New York, Boston and most points in between. A lot of kids, they got the day off from school, but federal employees also working a short day. Thousands of travelers getting really familiar with the airport. You can imagine them stuck there. Four thousand flights have been canceled since just yesterday.

Our Rene Marsh is at Reagan National Airport in Washington with the latest on that. Want to go to Alison Kosik in Long Island. Chad Myers in Plymouth, Massachusetts, below Boston, just there.

Chad, want to start off with you. Did a lot of snow coverage in Boston. Boy, I tell you, it is rough, but they know how to handle it.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Certainly is. And it is still snowing here. I talked to a couple people this morning that said they tried to get from Boston to here last night. They were doing five miles per hour. It took six hours to do this.

This is the snow we're in, and I'm not even getting to the bottom. I'm just packing this down. This is a four-wheel drive vehicle that just tried to get into the parking lot. There was no chance that this car was going any farther than this as the ruts are all the way down to here.

This snow is drifting shut again. Every road that is plowed gets drifted shut. But the people here, you know, in Atlanta, Suzanne, this would shut down the city for two weeks. I just saw a Mason office supply delivery truck making a delivery to one of the office buildings here. There's just no chance that it would ever happen south of the Mason Dixon line. I mean (INAUDIBLE) the snow still comes down --

MALVEAUX: Chad, Chad, you're absolutely right - you're absolutely right about that. I mean New Englanders, man, they just get through that stuff. They plow through it. They keep on going.

MYERS: I just looked at him and I said, you're making a delivery? He said, yes, they need paper. It's like, to do what exactly? There's just nothing to do here. But the people are out and about.

I asked a restaurant - I went to go get some coffee a little bit ago and I said, did you ever consider not opening today? He goes, well, you know, this isn't too bad. He lifted it up, he goes, that's only about 16 inches around my building. He goes, we're only really going to shut down if there's no power. It's like, OK. Good luck. At least I got hot coffee, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Yes, hardy folks there. All right, try to stay warm there and learn from them in Boston and New England, man, they know how - they know what they're doing.


MALVEAUX: You've got a couple - a move now, a couple hundred miles north to Long Island with Alison Kosik there. She's joining us.

Alison, you know, the snow looks like it piled there really pretty fast. I mean it didn't take any time before people got hit.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes. And you know what, and the good news is that this storm has moved out. What's left behind practically clear skies, beautiful sun. But don't be fooled, it is bitterly cold out here, 10 degrees. The real feel, 9 degrees below zero.

Here's the thing. The snow looks really pretty, right? This is the kind of snow that you like to go sledding in. Well, guess what, underneath it is a nice thick sheet of ice that's very, very slippery. Not just to walk, but also on the roadways. Behind me here, this is one of the main highways that goes through Long Island. It's moving pretty well along there, but, you know, once again, don't be fooled because when the sun goes down, that road is going to turn to ice.

And one more thing. I think we're stuck in the deep freeze here for a while. So, Suzanne, I don't think this snow is going to be melting any time soon. Good day for kids, though. Most of the kids here on Long Island, they get a snow day.


MALVEAUX: It's always nice to have a snow day. Well, thanks. We appreciate it, Alison. Try to stay warm. I know it is very, very cold where you are now.

Want to go to Rene Marsh, Reagan National Airport in Washington.

I know that airport very well. People coming and going. Very, very busy. Has it stopped? Has it basically put things at a standstill?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, they were in bad shape yesterday, but we can tell you that we're seeing a difference this morning, Suzanne. I'm seeing planes take off through the window here at Reagan.

But here's the big picture here. We will continue to see cancellations. We're still going to see delays here today. But -- and this is a good but now -- the airlines are starting to make a turn for the better. We have an airline update for you today. So we're looking at specific airlines like Delta. They are resuming flights at JFK, as well as LaGuardia. JetBlue resuming flights in New York and Boston, so that's good news. And United tells us today that they expect to be at full schedule in Newark, New Jersey.

Suzanne, you remember the polar vortex earlier this month.


MARSH: On day two, we didn't see things turning for the better, not during day two. But this storm was different in that, you know, you didn't have that holiday travel. And that meant a world of difference. More options, more seats available to rebook these stranded passengers. So they are getting to their destinations a lot faster, even though we did see some people sleeping in the airport this morning.


MALVEAUX: Yes, don't mention polar vortex. We know -- those are some bad words for all of us here. All right.

MARSH: (INAUDIBLE) think about that.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Rene. Appreciate it. Rene, Alison, Chad, try to stay warm. Appreciate it.

Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is not illegal what we are doing. We are reporters. We are reporting in a public space.


MALVEAUX: That is our David McKenzie getting roughed up by Chinese authorities while just simply trying to cover a trial. This is out of Beijing. We're going to talk to him live about what happened, next.

And a Japanese village slaughters dolphins every year in an annual hunt. But this time, it is drawing even more outrage.

And later, Toronto's mayor promised to stop drinking, but the latest video of Rob Ford apparently telling a different story.


MALVEAUX: China tries to silence a CNN crew. I want you to take a look at this.


MCKENZIE: Physically man-handling me. This is a public space. I'm allowed to report. This is not illegal what we are doing.


MALVEAUX: This is our own David McKenzie and his team roughed up by police in Beijing. They were trying to prevent the CNN crew from reporting on the trial of a human rights attorney, accused of organizing protests against official corruption. Here's his report.


MCKENZIE: So we're heading towards a court in Beijing where a prominent activist goes on trial today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave (ph)! Leave (ph)!

MCKENZIE: Why? This is a public space. There's no need to shout at me.

So, the court is just behind us. The name of the activist is Xu Zhiyong, and the reason he's on trial is because he had a gathering of people several times and was one of the founders of the New Citizens' Movement. That is why there are all these police surround me here.

We're going to go try and look at the entrance of the court, which is just here. Sorry, you can't stop me.

Soon, the situation violently escalated. Police in plainclothes, men targeting us, taking away our phones and I.D., and breaking the camera.

You can't physically -- they're physically manhandling us. They're physically manhandling me.

This is a public space. I'm allowed to report. I'm allowed to report. We are reporters. We're reporting in a public space.

Ouch! Hey, hey, hey, hey! Do not -- do not -- do not physically manhandle us like this.

Other international journalists were roughed up during the trial. One policeman told me they were following orders.

They have moved us from the van into a police car.

A government spokesman said they will investigate the incident, but that without law and order, there will be, quote, "chaos" in China.

The police and the plainclothes guys drove us several blocks away from the court and then just dumped us on the side of the street.

We would be shooting this with our camera, but they entirely tore off the front section of the view finder so Charlie can't use it at all.

This really shows how much China wants to manage the message, but in doing so, the irony is they betray some of the strong-arm tactics they use against journalists, including us, and obviously, it's often far worse for Chinese nationals.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: David McKenzie is joining us live from Beijing.

And, David, first of all, we're glad that you're OK. You handled that very well, very calm during the whole altercation there.

What's amazing is that you still have the tape, that we are able actually to see this unfold.

Do they even realize that they hadn't taken the tape, that this is something that they would be exposed for?

MCKENZIE: Well, it's a very good question. In fact, we were asking ourselves that same question, Suzanne, out in the field.

And, generally, in these instances, if Chinese authorities stopped filming in this country -- though on paper we're allowed to film whatever we want, wherever we want, in practice, there are several instances in the last year, Suzanne, we have been stopped. And often they want to see the footage. They just moved us out of the area and dumped us on the side of the street.

MALVEAUX: Do you have any idea, and I know it's very different in Beijing, whether or not there would be any kind of fallout from this? Clearly they have been exposed. But this is what officials essentially are trying to prevent you from doing, which is covering this trial, based on someone who is involved in human rights.

MCKENZIE: Well, this is a legal rights, human rights activist, as you say, and the irony here, Suzanne, is that, he is held up by a hero by authorities some years ago in his mild pressure on the government to change laws so that they are part of -- within China's own constitution, is the way they put it.

But now there has been this clamp-down on him and several other activists. It's not just us. Several other reporters were pushed out of the scene today, and certainly with the government controlling the courts, the police, the media here in China, they can effectively do what they want.

But, certainly, there is that blowback when they are shown to treat foreign reporters in this way, and as I said, often much worse for Chinese dissidents or reporters of Chinese nationality trying to get the word out online or amongst each other.

MALVEAUX: Well, David, you bring up a very good point, and that is the fact it brings even more attention to the human rights abuses, particularly of that individual who you were calling attention to.

Is there any concern now when you go out on the street, when you do your follow-up stories, that perhaps it will be more action that's taken against you now that they are on your radar and this is out there?

MCKENZIE: Well, it has to be on your radar, no matter where you're reporting around the world.

I don't want to overplay this incident, but certainly there are certain things that one has to be careful of in China in terms of dealing with authorities.

This is one party controls the media entirely on the local level. There is no such thing as a really independent Chinese media within the country, so foreign reporters play this role, that is, trying to get the word out when, say, others cannot.

One interesting point, Suzanne, is throughout the day today, when we have been reporting, CNN's own signal has been blocked within China by authorities.

So often it's not so much us reporting to the rest of the world that it's an issue. It's they don't want us reporting to China and to Chinese nationals and what they may believe from our reporting.

But we certainly will do our best to get the stories out, no matter what the pressure.

MALVEAUX: All right. David, thank you. Appreciate it, as always. Very well-handled.

Riot police responding full-force to protesters who are furious with their government, well, this is Ukraine, where at least four people have died in several days of increasing tension and street fighting. Police were told yesterday they could use firearms, and two of the protesters killed today were shot.

Public anger started boiling weeks ago. This is after Ukraine made a trade deal with Russia instead of the European Union. This week, the government passed a law, limiting people's right to protest.

And Edward Snowden says, yes, he is a whistle-blower, but, no, he is not a Russian spy. Snowden is reacting to suggestions now from some leaders in Congress that he was working for Russian intelligence when he leaked those classified NSA documents to the media.

Snowden spoke to "New Yorker" magazine calling those allegations absurd and saying that Russian treats its spies better than he has been treated. The FBI and NSA both said they believe Snowden acted alone.

In Bangkok, Thailand, anti-government demonstrators say a state of emergency will not stop their popular uprising. Large demonstrations have tied up parts of the capital now for weeks. Their goal is to disrupt next month's elections and force the prime minister from power.

Protest leaders are accusing the prime minister and her government of corruption. Yesterday, the embattled prime minister invoked emergency powers to impose curfews, muzzle the press and use the military to, quote, secure order.

And a meeting aimed at ending Syria's civil war kicks off today, with fighting words. That's right. Can the enemies at the table actually reach an agreement? We've got a live report from Switzerland, straight ahead.


MALVEAUX: It's a war of words at a conference that is seeking peace in Syria, enemies meeting face-to-face at a diplomatic round table in Switzerland, representatives of Syria's government meeting for the first time with leaders of the rebel opposition.

But right from the start, these two sides traded bitter accusations. At one point, the Syrian foreign minister even sparred with the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.


WALID AL-MOALLEM, SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: You live in New York. I live in Syria. I have the right to give the Syrian version here in this forum. BAN KI-MOON, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: Yes, of course. You know, I --

AL-MOALLEM: Three years of suffering, this isn't right.

BAN: We have to have some constructive and harmonious --

AL-MOALLEM: I have -- you spoke 25 minutes. Please, I need to speak.

BAN: There are many participating here. So we shall not be constructive at this time.

AL-MOALLEM: It is constructive. I promise you, to be constructive.



All right, Elise Labott, she's at the peace conference, joins us live from Montreux, Switzerland.

And, Elise, first of all, explain to us how that happened? Because most of the time, it's very ceremonial. You've got one speech after the other, very diplomatic. That was not. How did that happen?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, I've been to countless of these types of conferences and never seen anything like it.

And, you know, the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, is usually really mild mannered, but the Syrian foreign minister went on for a half hour, provocative language against the United States, Syrian opposition, against every -- basically every member at the table.

And he said, listen, you're not being constructive, you've really got to stop. And he tried repeatedly to get the Syrian foreign minister to back down.

The reason this all happened was because Secretary of State John Kerry really started this war of words, and the fireworks when he laid down a marker about the future of President Bashar al-Assad in a post -- in a transitional government.

Let's take a listen to the secretary.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: For a transition government means that that government cannot be formed with someone that is objected to by one side or the other.

That means that Bashar Assad will not be part of that transition government. There is no way, no way possible, in the imagination that the man who has led the brutal response to his own people could regain the legitimacy to govern.


LABOTT: And, Suzanne, that's what really started the foreign minister off. He directed comments directly to Secretary Kerry, saying, Mr. Kerry, you have absolutely no right to determine the future for the Syrian people. That's up to Syrians.

And it really doesn't bode well for the direct talks that the Syrian opposition and the regime are supposed to have on Friday --


LABOTT: -- members of the opposition telling me that if the Syrian government can't even agree to talk about a post-Assad government, there may not be any reason to talk at all.

MALVEAUX: Elise, in your analysis, does that seem like that is the bright red line that Assad has to go?

LABOTT: Well, it's the red line for the international community and the opposition.

And if you remember, this whole idea of this conference was the principles, as they say, of the Geneva II process, if you will, is to talk about a post-Assad government, to talk about a transitional government that both sides can agree it to, that wouldn't have Assad in it.

So what the opposition is saying is, listen, if they can't even sign up to the fundamental basis of which this conference was established, then we're kind of talking at what they call in the Middle East "dialogue of the deaf." Neither side is really hearing one another.

And will future talks be productive? The one silver lining that the international community and the U.N. and the U.S. think that if you could get those sides in the room, if you could talk about little confidence-building measures, like maybe a local cease-fire or delivery of humanitarian aid, you know, you have a horrible, humanitarian crisis.


LABOTT: If they could talk about exchanging prisoners, that might be the seeds of something that they could then build upon.

But it's really, if you see what happened today, it's all uphill from here, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Oh, yeah.

Elise, thank you very much, and as you have mentioned before, numerous times, a lot is on the line here.

We're talking about a hundred-thousand people who have died, millions who have been displaced in this civil war that has become really a regional conflict.

The rich and powerful, well, they're at the Annual World Economic forum in Switzerland now.