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President Putin Justifies Actions In Ukraine; Confusion Over Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria; South Korean Families Anxious As No New Survivors Found; Can Algeria Become Global Player In Natural Gas; Ukraine Crisis Talks; Ukraine Claims Russia Behind Eastern Protests; Parting Shots: Last-Minute Reprieve from Iranian Execution; Dubai Pushes Fashion Forward; Dressing the Stars; Fortnum & Mason in Dubai

Aired April 17, 2014 - 11:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: The fight for Ukraine's future while diplomats meet in Geneva. Pro-Russian militants attack the Ukrainian military base. We're going to take you to the heart of that conflict.

Unrest there could help Algeria emerge as a bigger player on the global energy market. We examine concerns that its economy may prove as frail as the leader likely to be voted back into power.

And this Iranian man was moments from execution. What the family of his victims did next will stun you. We'll hear exclusively from the photographer behind these astonishing pictures.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: A very good evening from here. It is just past 7:00 in the UAE. It is just past midnight in South Korea. Searchers working through the night, desperate to find more survivors of Wednesday's deadly ferry disaster. Hundreds of divers, boats and planes now out on the Yellow Sea looking for 287 missing passengers and crew.

Searchers are hoping some of them are still alive somewhere inside the mostly submerged ship, but the weather and the choppy seas are making the operation all the more difficult.

CNN's Mari Ramos has been analyzing a map spotted inside the government command center in South Korea. It appears, at least, to show the exact path of the Ferry up until its final moments.


MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: This line shows us the time that it took, the track that the ship was taking, move at about 34 kilometers per hour, about cruising speed as you can see.

Then something happened in this area right in here where you see a dramatic shift in the way the boat -- the ship was moving, only about 4 kilometers per hour. This happened right around 9:00 am around the time a distress call did come out. And we are deducing from this that this was drifting after the accident happened and then the final position where the ship actually came to rest in that area there just to the north.


ANDERSON: And a live report from South Korea on the search efforts coming up in just a few minutes here on CNN.

Also tonight, crisis in Ukraine as Kiev tries to take back control of the cities in the east from pro-Russian activists. The world's top diplomats are gathering in Geneva looking for a peaceful way out of this crisis. Here is what is happening at this hour.

As we await press conferences from Geneva, U.S., Russian, Ukrainian and EU officials meeting there, searching for common ground.

We're waiting, as we speak, for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to make statements. We'll bring you those live when they happen.

Back in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin called those talks important to find a way out of this situation, but continued to call Ukraine's government illegitimate.

Meanwhile, 300 militants attacked Ukrainian military base in the southeastern city of Mariupol. Soldiers opened fire and killed three pro- Russian attackers.

Well, let's get the very latest on the ground in eastern Ukraine. Phil Black joining us from (inaudible).

Phil, as we await news from Geneva, can you explain exactly where you are and what is going on on the ground?


We're some way north of the eastern -- southeastern city of Donetsk.

We've been driving from the northeast through to the southeast of this region today. And what we've seen, you mentioned that attack in Mariupol this morning. Obviously a very violent start to the day, but what it also shows was, I think, the confidence, the boldness of the militants and the pro-Russian groups in this region. And that's really what we're also seeing on the ground here today, especially that this is in the middle of what is an ongoing military operation by the Ukrainian (inaudible) back to stop these pro-Russian forces and get -- kick them out of these areas that they've been occupying for these last few weeks and days.

What we're seeing is that that military operation up until this point has been really absolutely ineffective. It has shown no sign whatsoever that it has been able to work. What we've seen in the last few days is that these -- these military forces have, in fact, been confronted by locals, not gunmen, not militants, but just villagers, convoys of Ukrainian military stopped, blocked, not allowed to advance any further then placed in the very humiliating circumstance where they are then forced to negotiate their own retreat, sometimes giving up their own weapons, sometimes giving up the armored vehicles that they are, in fact, driving.

What it shows, as I say, is that this is not working up until this point. The Ukrainian government is talking about disbanding military units that have shown cowardice in this way. But that doesn't change the fact on the ground that these pro-Russian groups are gaining in their authority and in their confidence and the authority of the Ukrainian government is continue to erode despite the use of the military to try and reverse that trend, Becky.

ANDERSON: Phil Black right on the story there for you in east Ukraine.

Later on Connect the World with me Becky Anderson, we'll continue our special coverage of this crisis in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin weighs in on the situation during what was a long question and answer session today on Russian TV. We'll get you that. We'll discuss the state of U.S.-Russia relations in the light of this crisis. And we'll go live to Geneva to see if there is any hope for a peaceful resolution in the short-term to this turmoil.

Well, moving on tonight. And three days after the mass kidnapping of more than 100 schoolgirls in Nigeria, there are conflicting reports about what has happened to them. The Nigerian military says most of the girls have been freed, but now the school's principal and some parents say that is not true.

Let's find out what's going on. Vladimir Putin -- Vladimir Putin -- Vladimir Duthiers live from Nigeria's capital Abuja. What do we know at this point?


As you said, conflicting reports. Military last night just a couple of days after these girls were abducted in the middle of the night from their dormitory in Borno State in Northeastern Nigeria. The military coming out and saying that they've been conducting search and rescue operations not only with the joint task force but with the civilian joint task force and that the majority of the girls had been freed with the exception of eight.

Now, this morning, parents, the school principal, even the governor of Borno State saying that that is simply not true.

And I just want to read for you the comments that one of the parents, a father of one of the missing girls, said to us. He said "we have been in grief for the past four days over the kidnapping of our daughter and hoping the military would rescue them. But to our greatest shock and disbelief, the same military has resorted to blatant propaganda claiming all but eight of our girls have been freed. This is a blatant lie."

Becky, that's from a father of one of the missing girls.

We've reached out to the Nigerian military for them to comment on this. We've reached out to them by phone, by email. We have not heard yet. We're going to keep digging on the story and bring it to you on CNN. But that is the latest from here in Nigeria, Becky.

ANDERSON: Do we as of yet know exactly what happened on -- what was it -- on Tuesday night now?

DUTHIERS: We -- you know, this took place in a very remote area of the country. In fact, after the abductors got away with the young ladies they took them, according to military and to sources on the ground, into a heavily forested area that borders Cameroon.

And so the -- even we originally had heard from a fellow student that up to 200 girls had been taken, then the number was walked back a bit to about 100, then the school principal saying 129. We never had a definitive number of exactly how many girls were taken.

And once the military came out with their statement that only eight girls remained in captivity, we still didn't know exactly how many girls had been freed. So a lot of questions about what's going on up there. We're still digging and we're still trying to find out, especially from the military because if there's perhaps a discrepancy, as I said the military because that Borno state is under a state of emergency as are two other states in the northeastern part of the country, and Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria has directed to the military and his national security agencies to find these girls, perhaps there's a delay in getting the information. We really don't know, but we're still digging on it, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. OK, stay on the story. Vladimir Duthiers there for you in Nigeria.

Let's get you a live update on our top story, the ferry disaster in South Korea. Paula Hancocks is in Jindo with the very latest on what is still, Paula, I believe thankfully a search for survivors despite the fact now we are hours into this disaster.

HANCOCKS: That's right, Becky, yes, it's still very much a search and rescue operation.

We're hearing from the maritime police that they're working under the assumption that there are still survivors. Unfortunately, though, just in the last half hour we've got updated figures from the South Korean government, the ministry of security, public administration saying that now 18 have been confirmed to have been killed in this accident, 278 are still missing. So they are finding people. Unfortunately at this point, they are not finding anybody alive, but there are dozens of relatives sitting on the harbor behind me that are desperately hoping that that changes. They are hoping that there are still survivors on that ship.

Now we know that today, this Thursday, the adverse weather has really been affecting the search and rescue operation. We know that divers had been trying to get into some of the cabins that have been submerged to see if they can find survivors or if they can find bodies. But at this point, they have failed to even get inside because of those bad weather conditions -- low visibility, strong currents. And this is really hindering the issue at the moment.

So of course for many people here, parents wanting to know if their child is still alive. They are just sitting and waiting. We spoke to one woman who said that she also felt guilty because she had encouraged her daughter to go on this school fieldtrip.


CHRISTINE KIM, MOTHER OF MISSING STUDENT: My daughter said to me, mom, I don't want to go there, because I went there again, this time again. So I tell her, I think this trip will be very great experience for you, for your school days. So I'm very regretting. I'm very regretting this -- that I did that.


HANCOCKS: It's all the relatives can do at this point, Becky is literally just sit and wait for any news on their loved ones.

ANDERSON: Paula Hancocks there at what is past midnight in South Korea. 10 minutes past 7:00 here in Abu Dhabi. Paula, thank you.

Still to come, more on our top stories. And Algerians go to the polls, but the outcome of that election is viewed by many as a foregone conclusion. We're going to take a look at the economic legacy of President Bouteflika as the ailing incumbent eyes a fourth term.

And we bring you remarkable images from Iran. Hear the whole story from the photographer behind these pictures.

You're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson. It is 14 minutes past 7:00 in the UAE. Welcome back.

Let's recap one of our top stories for you, three pro-Russian militants were killed when hundreds attacked a Ukrainian military base in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, top diplomats meeting in Geneva as we speak to find a resolution to the crisis. As we -- as they begin to speak, we will of course get you to their press conferences. We are expecting them any time soon.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin blames Kiev for the unrest and says next month's planned presidential elections in Ukraine would be illegitimate.

Well, so many angles and possible outcomes to this story. Let's get some analysis from Robin Niblett who is director of Chatham House joining me from London this evening.

And Robin, let's start at the beginning of the day, because it's been a long one. We heard from President Putin what was a very long Q&A session. They normally are on Russian TV, but this one being watched by the eyes of the world.

Let's roll in it and get your reaction. Have a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): I can remind you that Russia's Federation Council granted the president the right to use armed forces in Ukraine. I very much hope that I will not have to use that right and that we will be able to solve all current burning issues in Ukraine by political and diplomatic means.


ANDERSON: Robin, this is a man Angela Merkel says represents a 19th Century law of the jungle mentality. Your assessment of what we heard from the Russian president today.

ROBIN NIBLETT, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, I think he's looking to confirm his viewpoint that what is happening in Ukraine, the possibility as you heard the story there of an election, May 25, would be an election that would empower an illegitimate government. Until you have, from his perspective, a Ukraine that has no possibility of tilting in its entirety to the west, to the European Union, he's not going to be happy. So he has to lay out, I think, as legalistic a case as he can to his own population for why he's doing the right thing, upholding protesters in the east, Russian-speakers who are worried about the new government, given the kind of violent way in which it ended up taking power.

So I think all he's doing is confirming -- remember, he's 80 percent popularity right now in Russia. This is a chance for him to consolidate public support behind whatever he wants to do on his foreign policy.

ANDERSON: All right.

In a opinion piece this week, you wrote, and I quote, "Russia will not reform under Putin's watch as some in the west once hoped. He blames the west for Russia's ills and wallows and victimhood. if the choice is now between trying to bring President Putin gradually in from the cold or containing his worst instincts towards Russia's European neighbors the latter is the only reasonable or rational answer."

As it seems to present a strong and united response, the west, you said can ill afford to blame itself.

This very much runs counter to what a lot of people are saying, is an overreach by Washington and the EU. You don't buy that. Why not?

NIBLETT: I don't buy it because you simply look at the kind of neighborhood that President Putin has been creating. I don't think it's been driven by the west. We have a system inside Russia that is increasingly autocratic, authoritarian, where the media has been closed down, the key parts of business are controlled by friends, some might say key supporters, let's say, of President Putin. And it's a system of government that I think he wants to see entrenched in his immediate neighborhood, whether it be to the west in Ukraine, Belarus, and even to the south and it's already covered to his east.

He's looking for his neighbors as a protective cordon sanitarium, you might say, to be able to ensure that he can maintain his leadership position within Russia.

So, ultimately we think we're pushing him in this position. I think President Putin has a very clear idea of the kind of Russia he wants to run. It's one where there is central control, where there is not opposition. And ultimately that was always the plan.

ANDERSON: We have some of the world's top diplomats in Geneva today. We're awaiting on press conferences from Secretary of State John Kerry from the U.S. and the EU representative there as well and indeed a separate press conference, I believe, by Sergey Lavrov. And our viewers will get those as and when they happen.

Talk to me about what happens next. What's the strategy going forward.

U.S. Congressman -- and he's a hawk -- John McCain has been withering in his contempt for Russia. He calls it a gas station masquerading as a country.

I don't think that helps, particularly, you probably don't either. But listen, you know, at this point, let's talk about U.S. options, perhaps U.S.-EU options so far as the Kremlin is concerned. Is there either a pushback strategy here on Moscow isn't there, or a negotiation stance at this point? Which way do you believe the west will go?

NIBLETT: Well, the west has to negotiate to a certain extent. We cannot simply sit back and leave a weaker government in Kiev to try to negotiate with a very determined and very clearly led Russia. So ultimately Kiev needs western support and it wants to balance its situation with Moscow.

However, the idea that we can actually control the outcome of what's happening in east Ukraine from the west, whether it be from Washington or from Brussels or Berlin is not going to happen. Ultimately we need to point to the long-term consequences of President Putin of taking this quite aggressive stance in Eastern Ukraine. So this is entirely in the economic space.

I think actually the steps so far have been proportionate. The west has to keep in reserve more serious economic immediate sanctions in case something more serious is undertaken. But what it can do in the meantime is improve the trade options for Ukraine looking west into Europe, into the United States, provide financial aid, open up the prospects of an association agreement and point out to President Putin that the ability for the Russian economy and the kind of Russian oligarchy to start to penetrate and become rich out of Western Europe, whether it be through energy investments, telecom investments, aerospace investments, is not a viable way of the future. You cannot have an economic relationship of the sort that I think he is looking for with the west with the kind of approach he's taken to Ukraine.

ANDERSON: Yeah, fascinating. All right, well we await to see what comes out of these press conferences. As I say, they are scheduled pretty much now. We'll get them to our viewers as soon as we can.

Robin Niblett for you.

And you can read his opinion piece -- and it's a very good one -- on the role of the west in the crisis and thoughts on what needs to be done all at That's more on the ongoing crisis on a special section, which is Crisis in Ukraine.

Well, as Algerians vote in an election many are calling unfair and protesters hit the streets, we'll analyze the economic potential of a country seen as one of the region's most stable.


ANDERSON: Right, you're at the Global Exchange on Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson. Live from Abu Dhabi. Welcome back.

Now, April 20 -- no, let me start that again, April 2014 has the distinction of being the most democratic month ever. More people are going to the polls around the world than we've ever seen.

Thursday is the busiest day, for example, in India's ongoing election process. And the ballot boxes are also filling up in Algeria where voters are choosing a new president.

Now in Algeria, democracy is a relative term. Opposition parties have joined forces to call for a boycott of this election, which they say is unfairly weighted in favor of the ruling FLN party as protests have been stifled in the capital Algiers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We organized this action to say that we denounce and reject this electoral farce and these people who do not allow us to express ourselves in our own country.

Although you can see we are people demonstrating peacefully and we are not calling for a revolution. We are not calling to provoke problems that would be harmful to our country, we are peaceful. We are calling for a change and for the freedom of the country.


ANDERSON: Well, Algeria's economy has enjoyed steady growth over the past few years, however it is heavily dependent on one industry and that is hydrocarbons. Our emerging markets editor in the Global Exchange with me John Defterios joining me.

And this would be a fourth term for the incumbent, who it's got to be saying is struggling with his health on what some see as an aging government, a sclerotic Algerian politics.

(inaudible) it's the same people running the political sort of franchise than were way back when in 1962 in independence.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. In fact, most people don't know that fact. This is the same generation that fought for independence in the 1960s and the same generation, of course, that fought against the Islamists in the 1990s when there was 200,000 deaths. As a result, Mr. Bouteflika, the president, became an ally to the United States and Europe for holding up that front in North Africa. He did not suffer from the Arab Spring like the neighbors in Libya and Tunisia. But he's aging, 77, he had a stroke last year.

You will recall, Becky, in January of 2013 we also had that In Amenas attack on the gas facility on the border with Libya when we had 40 works for Stade Oil and BP killed in that attack. And it raises questions about how much control does he have over the country. He served three months in France, because of the stroke. The pictures say it all, he was voting from a wheelchair today, only got on his feet to meet with John Kerry who visited at the beginning of this month to lend his sort of support.

But the economy has slowed down dramatically. This is an economy that was growing at better than 4 percent, peaked out at 6 percent, but the last few years 2, 2.5 percent because of that over dependency on natural gas and secondarily a very young population frustrated to see them protesting is unusual in Algeria. But the youth unemployment rate of 25 percent has people going to the streets.

ANDERSON: Algeria not by any stretch a small player when it comes to energy. And it's sort of growing importance, correct?

DEFTERIOS: Strategically and geographically extremely important. It has pipelines going into Spain, two of them, one going into Italy, about 60 percent of its production exits into Europe.

But here's a few interesting facts. Number one, natural gas producer in Africa, number three when it comes to oil behind Nigeria and Angola. How about that fact? It was the first LNG producer in the world going back to 1964. Qatar has made its name doing the same.

It only has about 2.5 percent of global reserves. But the plane is, Becky, they've got very large shale gas deposits. I recently spoke to the minister of energy and mining and suggested how much do you really have under the ground, this is what he had to say.


YOUCEF YOUSFI, ALGERIAN ENERGY MINISTER: We know that we had a huge potential, but we wanted to check it through different studies. And the conclusion is that the present level of our potential of -- and conversional between tight and shale is more than six times our present level of reserves.


DEFTERIOS: So that's quite a bold statement, isn't it? Six times the reserves that they have now. They're the number one gas producer.

Can they deliver? There has been some frustration when you come to the Middle East which sits on two-thirds of the global reserves, for example, here in the UAE, that their hydrocarbon laws not very favorable to the producers. They are trying to rework this law, make it more favorable to FDI.

But it raises the question here, you have an aging solid ally in North Africa, did not have the Arab Spring, but who is going to lead in the future? Does he hand over power after this election or not? And who can pass those laws to welcome the FDI in the future to become a natural gas producer, perhaps a counter to Russia. But that takes 10, 15 years and it's not there yet.

ANDERSON: Watch this space, because as John rightly points out it's sort of a foregone conclusion as to who will win this election. It's what happens next going forward and the sort of handover to the next generation which will be really interesting to watch.

John, as ever, thank you.

End of the week. Have a good weekend. End of the week here, at least.

DEFTERIOS: Our Thursday weekends.

ANDERSON: That's right. The latest world news headlines are just ahead.

Plus, the search for a diplomatic way to solve the crisis in Ukraine. A live report from Geneva coming up next.

And a man facing a death sentence receives a very unlikely reprieve. We're going to hear exclusively from the photographer who captured these astonishing images.


ANDERSON: At just after 7:30 in the evening in the UAE, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. The top stories this hour.

The world's top diplomats meeting in Geneva to find a diplomatic way to ease the crisis in Ukraine. France says EU sanctions against Russia could be strengthened if there's no progress in Geneva.

Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists attacked the Ukrainian National Guard base in the east of the country overnight. Ukrainian forces returned fire, killing three of the separatists.

In the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, officials are still analyzing data from the Blue Fin 21 submersible. It scanned the ocean floor Thursday in its first full mission. Australian officials now say early tests show an oil slick found in the search area was not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fluid.

Rescuers in South Korea are holding out hope of finding survivors still onboard this sunken ferry. Crews have been trying to get inside the ship, but they've been hampered by terrible weather conditions. According to South Korea's government, 18 people are now confirmed dead, 278 are still missing. At least 179 people have been rescued.

Returning to our top story, and we are still waiting on a news conference from Geneva on any diplomatic progress in resolving the crisis in Ukraine. Reza Sayah joining us live now with the very latest. And as we await details, what are you hearing?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we can tell you over the past couple of hours, the intrigue and the suspense surrounding these talks has increased significantly, and that's happened without us knowing what's going on inside the meeting because it's still continuing.

We can tell you that this meeting is lasting much longer than we expected, rough six hours, now, that these four sides have been talking to one another. We were told that the meeting, this mini-summit, would end at about 1:45 PM local time. It's about 5:30 PM local time, and they are still in there, and it's not clear why.

Have they reached some sort of breakthrough? If so, what does the breakthrough look like? Have they agreed to something less than a breakthrough? A senior EU official telling CNN that the four sides are working on drafting some sort of joint statement.

Is that joint statement going to succeed in perhaps toning down some of the rhetoric, softening some of the accusations and the finger-pointings that have been flying around for the past several days and several weeks.

We can tell you that earlier, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine, they had bilateral meetings, then they went into a session where they all sat down trying to has things together, and that's what we're waiting on, for that summit to conclude.

We were told that there's going to be a news conference by Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, after the meeting. That would be followed by a joint news conference by US secretary of state John Kerry and Catherine Ashton, but things are changing, so we're not sure what the next hour or so is going to bring, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right, stay with CNN, because whatever happens, it will happen, and it will happen here on this network. Thank you, Reza.

Russia may insist it's just an observer in what's happening in Ukraine, but Ukrainian authorities beg to differ. They say they have evidence that Russian provocateurs have been sent to the country to stir up trouble. Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon got an exclusive look.


VITALIY NAIDA, SENIOR COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE OFFICER, SBU: You can see the video of Negrianko (ph) being arrested by alpha team right now. He was in this motel in the room.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vitaliy Naida, a senior officer with Ukraine's counter-intelligence services says Vyacheslav Negrianko (ph) was arrested in eastern Ukraine in March. And according to his ID, is a Russian military officer. In his possession, Naida says, all the components of a homemade bomb.

NAIDA: This the wrapped explosive.

DAMON: Plus detonators, bolts, and screws, and a map marking the locations of military and administrative installations in the Ukraine.

NAIDA: The exact places where riots were, where peaceful -- let's say, so-called peaceful demonstrators went to protest. So, the intention was not to organize peaceful protests, but to organize chaos and -- let's say to have blood in the streets.

DAMON: CNN was given exclusive access to some of the evidence that Ukrainian officials say they are using to build their case in Geneva about direct Russian involvement in the unrest in the east.

NAIDA: But we were speaking about dozens of Russian special forces, Russian military, and their recruited agents.

DAMON: Among them, Naida says, is Russian Maria Koleda, 22 years old. These are photographs posted to social media. In one, she carries a rocket-propelled grenade. Koleda was dispatched, Naida tells us, by Russian intelligence services to instigate violence.

NAIDA: Here you see the gun that was taken from Maria Koleda when she was arrested. This gun normally is used for shooting plastic bullets. The lady modified the gun to shoot the metal bullets.


DAMON: She was arrested for alleged involvement in riots, including this one in southern Ukraine. In a secretly recorded telephone conversation that we did not have access to, Naida says Koleda reports back to her superiors in Russia, that she shot and wounded three people. Koleda, in custody, agreed to speak to us. Her clothing and demeanor starkly different to her online persona.

She denies the allegations against here and claims she is a journalist. But when CNN searched for the outlet she said she worked for, it was last published in the 1920s. She admits she was carrying the pistol to protect herself, but that she did not know the weapon had been modified.

"I know big guns, machine guns, RPGs," she tells us. "But not pistols." She says she'd been talking to friends on the phone and that her comment about shooting people was because she was worked up after seeing so much violence.

"I said by phone that I basically want to shoot all of them. Naturally, I said a lot of things at the time." Now she says she never fired the weapon. But Naida says Koleda is part of a complex Russian network to turn Ukraine into a battlefield, something Russia continues to deny doing.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Kiev.


ANDERSON: And we, of course, are still waiting on word from Geneva from both the US, from Washington, and, indeed, from Russia. Top world diplomats meeting there to try and sort this crisis out.

Well, our Parting Shots tonight, this: the moment an Iranian mother comes face-to-face with the man who killed her teenage son as the convicted killer was about to be executed. But the story isn't what it seems. Here's the backstory from Arash Khamooshi, the photographer who documented it.


ARASH KHAMOOSHI, PHOTOGRAPHER (through translator): The first picture I took was the night before the execution. It was just moments after Balal's mother had received a phone call from the court telling her the execution will go ahead the very next day. She was distraught, crying and covering her face.

The next morning at 5:00 AM, people had gathered, mostly just praying and waiting. It was still dark, and we saw the authorities getting ready. It was a very surreal scene for me.

As we were waiting for them to bring out Balal, I saw his mother sitting down behind the barriers on the ground. She had no energy left in her, resigned to the fact that she was going to lose her son. It was very moving.

Then they brought Balal out from the prison. He was breathing very heavily and was trying very hard to figure out what was going on around him. They took him to the chair and put the noose around his neck. He was screaming and praying loudly before he suddenly went silent.

The victim's family came out, and his mother addressed the crowd. She told them she'd been living in a nightmare since she lost her son, and even though in Islamic law it's recommended for the family to forgive, she couldn't bring herself to forgive Balal.

She walked close to the chair with her husband, and at that point, there was no indication she was ready to forgive. But then, she asked for them to bring a chair so she could stand on it. And that's when she slapped Balal, and she said, "Forgive him."

The parents of the boy he had killed took the noose off Balal's neck, forgiving him. Balal's family rushed over and hugged and thanked the mother and father. They were praising them for what they did.

Looking back, I don't know how I took these pictures. I guess it's the power of the camera that allows you to focus, and that's the only reason I didn't break down and cry.


ANDERSON: The film will be online very shortly. You can always get in touch with us at CONNECT THE WORLD. We're fascinated to hear what you think about the top stories, about a story like that,, have your say. It's a global conversation, the show is yours. You can tweet me @BeckyCNN, we're on Instagram, just search for Becky CNN.

And as I say, that you piece you've just seen will be online shortly at and at

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. It is just before quarter to 8:00 here in the UAE. MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST is next.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, HOST: This week on MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, we're in Dubai, already a shopper's paradise. We'll take a look at the plans to place the city among the fashion capitals of the world.

And we look at why a 300-year-old British luxury retailer chose Dubai as the place to open its first-ever shop abroad.

Welcome to MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST, this week from Dubai. The emirate is home to some of the busiest shopping malls in the world, including this one here, the Mall of the Emirates. Little wonder, then, that it's the second-most popular destination for retailers on the planet.

Now, Dubai wants to go a step further by building an industry around its local talents. Leone Lakhani has the story.


LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Fashion Forward, a semi-annual event to promote the Middle East's emerging fashion industry. For the past year, design brands like Amato are drawing crowds.

Aside from shows, pop-up shops tout the region's accessory makers, and fashion leaders hold discussion forums. The event, launched just last April, but its founder has grand ambitions.

BONG GUERRERO, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, FASHION FORWARD: I would like to truly have our own fashion heroes. I think every market deserves to have their own point of differentiation. With a global immersion of power brands, where every mall almost looks the same, you really need to have your own homegrown brand.

LAKHANI (on camera): Homegrown brands, like Dubai's very own Zareena line. The real test is whether these creations will make it off the runways here and into stores around the world.

LAKHANI (voice-over): It's a lucrative market. The luxury fashion and design sectors are worth more than $14 billion across the Gulf region, according to the consultants Bain and Company. Big business and still just a portion of the global markets.

To tap into that, industry experts like Fern Mallis, the creator of New York Fashion Week, say the region has to set itself apart.

FERN MALLIS, CREATOR, NEW YORK FASHION WEEK: There's a lot of talent around the world. But everybody's looking for something new. Even buyers in New York and in Paris, they're all looking for something new that nobody else has.

LAKHANI: But emerging talents, like Arwa Alammari from Saudi Arabia, who's just completed her second Fashion Forward collection, say designers like her need guidance to succeed.

ARWA ALAMMARI, FASHION DESIGNER, ARAM: For a new designer, they need appropriate education so they'll be able to understand the concept behind fashion. Because fashion cannot be taken as a hobby. It has to be taken seriously.

LAKHANI: Fostering a creative outlet is part of a longterm strategy that aims to turn Dubai into a global fashion capital by 2020. To support it, the government's creating an entire zone dedicated to design. It's called D3, or Dubai Design District. It'll include commercial areas, manufacturing facilities, and work spaces for artists and designers.

The woman at the helm of the project says it'll be an ecosystem to create jobs and nurture the region's talents.

AMINA ALRUSTAMANI, GROUP CEO, TECOM INVESTMENTS: Education is important. It's -- whatever we do is not only to attract talent form the region, which -- and I believe the region is very really rich with talent in the design and creative sector, but also to have the right base and infrastructure to also develop talent.

LAKHANI: Building upon the city's successful retail sector, where sales are expected to reach $41 billion in 2015. D3 is just minutes from the city's tourist mecca, the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which towers over one of the world's largest shopping malls and its 75 million visitors each year.

ALRUSTAMANI: We are very strong in attracting brands here, but I believe also we are also ready and have the right opportunity to also develop global brands from Dubai.

LAKHANI: And take designs from these catwalks worldwide.


DEFTERIOS: With the UAE fashion and luxury market valued at over $6 billion, it's no surprise to see that the global designers have a presence within the country. But there's a Dubai-based designer who has his own following amongst the global celebrity elite. Here's a special look inside his studio.


FURNE ONE, DISIGNER AND OWNER, AMATO: My name is Funre One. I'm from Cebu, Philippines. I started designing when I was, like, around 15 years old. And then I joined this competition. I won the competition, the Mega Young Designer of the Philippines Award, and then my prize was to go to Paris and to go to New York to apprentice with Josie Natori.

We started the label Amato 2002. Amato means beloved, because we started for bridal. And then we ended up, like bridal, doing also party dresses. This collection is the Circus of Good and Evil collection. It's all threading -- thread work with acrylic and all laser-cutting organza.

For a simple party dress, we start $5,000 US to $10,000. We started Amato with a very small group, less than 10, and now we're 90 to 100. This one is like the big work department. This one, they're making all the bead works. And this one is doing all the machines, like this is the machine embroiderers, and we have here the tailors.

We're catering mostly with local ladies here, actually in this region, the Middle East and the Gulf. And we have lots of clients, also, from Russia and the US and also Europe.

This one, Katy Perry wore this one in the MTV Music Awards. Dressing of celebrities is a dream. It all started with Katy Perry. The management told us that they wanted us to do the tour. So, we did the tour, the California Dream tour, we did the outfits. So, it's opened doors.

Shakira wore this one in the Grammys. And then I started designing Nicki Minaj video, Beyonce's tour. But now, what's the plan is to bring Amato to another level. To bring Amato to be more international, like a brand, not just a tailoring shop.


DEFTERIOS: The life and times of the Dubai-based designer Amato. Well, from a homegrown brand to one of the most prestigious in London making its Dubai debut. When we come back, we visit the new Fortnum & Mason shop in Dubai, selling its famous English teatime treats for the first time in a shop outside of the UK.


DEFTERIOS: It's a luxury brand known for its hampers and specialty tea. Fortnum & Mason was established in the early 1700s, but it's never had a store outside the UK until now. I caught up with its chief executive, Ewan Venters, at their new operation right next to the Dubai Mall.


EWAN VENTERS, CEO, FORTNUM & MASON: Welcome to Fortnum's Dubai.

DEFTERIOS: Yes, appreciate it.

VENTERS: Good to see you.

Fortnum & Mason is 300 years old. So, over the decades, the business had to change and evolve all the time. And here we are in downtown Dubai, with lots of the traditional aspects of the Fortnum's business, but in a more contemporized way of presentation.

DEFTERIOS: Would you say it's a risk in a way that you're taking a traditional brand and bringing it into a very modern setting, so you don't undermine the brand at the same time, maintain that cache?

VENTERS: Well, one of the key requisites of the strategy is that we said that we must have a standalone site. Dubai's an extremely important commercial center for luxury retailing, but we were never taking Fortnum & Mason into a shopping mall. So, we're only here because this site came available, and I think it's possibly the finest retail site in Dubai.

DEFTERIOS: This is, in a sense, an island or an oasis in a region that's very turbulent. Do you want to go into other markets of the Middle East? Do you see safe harbors with the chaos in the broader region?

VENTERS: I think we'll keep everything under watch and review. But our first priority is establishing ourselves in Dubai through this 9,500 square foot store. But beyond the opening of the store later in the year, we'll launch our website. So, we'll actively develop our online strategy throughout the whole region.

So, I don't suppose we'll be ever in multiple sites across the region. Maybe one or two additional sites.

DEFTERIOS: You have a Gulf base, a Middle East base of customers. Take me through, in a sense, what you're putting on offer, and can you tap easily to expand that Gulf base that you had into Piccadilly?

VENTERS: One of the original attractions of coming to the Middle East, the region, is that after Water, the second-most popular drink is tea. And we've been tea merchants for nearly 300 years. So, it's kind of an exciting opportunity just from a tea point of view. So, tea will be at the cornerstone of the product offer and also in the restaurant.

But beyond that, the hamper business, the wicker business that Fortnum & Mason is most famous for, perhaps, across the globe, the UAE, Dubai in particular, very gifting culture, very oriented towards gifting. And of course, the wicker baskets and hamper, the perfect gifting solution.


DEFTERIOS: Ewan Venters, the CEO of the legendary retailer on the decision to move outside of Piccadilly for the first time.

And that's all for this edition of CNN MARKETPLACE MIDDLE EAST. I'm John Defterios in Dubai, thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.