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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
U.S., Iraq Investigate Reports Of Civilian Deaths; U.K. Government: Police On Masood: "Clearly An Interest In Jihad"; White House Resets Priorities After Health Care Defeat; Senate Panel To Question Kushner On Russia Contacts; Anti-Corruption Protests Sunday Swept Across Russia; Theresa May to Trigger Article 50 This Wednesday; Teen Girls Wearing Leggings Turned Away from Flight. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired March 27, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We are live from CNN London. Thanks for being with us this Monday. This is THE WORLD
Mounting questions mixed with grief in Western Mosul where an Iraqi official now says at least 112 bodies have been pulled from the rubble of
an airstrike. Concerns over civilian casualties are also increasing after an American-led coalition airstrike in the area sparked an investigation by
both the U.S. and Iraq.
An Iraqi military officer says a coalition airstrike on an explosive-laden ISIS truck caused some of the deaths, but American officials have not
confirmed that account.
This comes as the U.S. military is ramping up its operations near Mosul in the fight against ISIS. Our correspondents are covering this story from
Washington to Iraq. Our Barbara Starr is standing by at the Pentagon.
Arwa Damon is live from the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. She was close to the frontline in Mosul. Arwa, I want to start with you and we've heard a
lot about these civilian casualties reported in a series of coalition airstrikes that happened somewhere around March 17th in Mosul. What are
eyewitnesses telling you happened there that caused such a high -- potentially high civilian toll?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to one of the Iraqi counterterrorism commanders who was on the ground, he said
that in one of the airstrikes that was called in, the target was an ISIS suicide truck bomb, and it appears that the force of the explosion that was
then generated may have been one of the factors that contributed to at least in this one particular instance these various different houses to
And the eyewitnesses CNN spoke to who lived a few homes down of it is he and his family were fleeing the chaos, they could hear people underneath
the rubble screaming out, "please save us we're still alive."
And it did take rescue workers, Hala, a few days to actually get to the site. The head of the Civil Defense teams that are there was saying that
it is actually has been quite tough to try to get bodies out from underneath the rubble at this stage.
Their work has significantly slowed down to say they were only able to pull out six bodies in total, although as you were saying there, a health
ministry official has said that over the last few days in this one particular site they pulled out around 112.
I mean, look, the toll that this is having on the civilian population is absolutely devastating and these are just the instances that we are hearing
about. There is so much violence happening and almost every single house does have a family and this is a population that was unable to escape --
GORANI: Yes, and Barbara at the Pentagon, obviously calling airstrikes as something the Iraqi military is doing. It's calling on the coalition
saying here's the target. Here's what we believed to be an ISIS target and how does the coalition then, the U.S.-led coalition decide whether or not
it's a risk work taking in terms of potentially targeting, unwittingly, but targeting civilians.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You know, in West Mosul issue, and Arwa know, this is very tough business because this is a very densely
populated area, very narrow, crowded streets and neighborhoods, can't even get a vehicle down some of these streets. So if there is a threat, if
there is an imminent danger to Iraqi troops, it can become very difficult to call in an airstrike.
Now the U.S. has precision weapons. We have seen time and again over the years they can in fact target one building and leave the next building next
door untouched. But in this area, we just simply don't know. Did that truck bomb explode and possibly caused secondary explosions bringing houses
Did the bomb missed its target perhaps by just by a few feet and hit one of these buildings. This is one of the reasons for the investigation and
perhaps just an indicator of how complex this is. The military told us a short ago, they are looking at 700 videos from overhead surveillance, from
aircraft and drones to see what they can figure out -- Hala.
[15:05:06]GORANI: And Arwa, in Erbil, a "New York Times" article quotes an Iraqi counterterrorism source, not named, but quotes the source as saying,
it's become easier under Trump to call in airstrikes, but under Obama, it was a little bit harder. It would take a little bit longer. There might
even have been some frustration on that front. They are saying now it's a lot quicker. Is that what your sources on the ground within the Iraqi
military are telling you?
DAMON: Well, at this stage, everyone is remaining fairly tight-lipped and those statements are saying that various Pentagon spokespeople as well as
coalition spokespeople have been denying at this stage saying that the process for it all, the chain of command remains the same. It's basically
requested by Iraqis on the ground, moves up the chain of command and then is finally approved.
The U.S. at this stage is very much issuing those fairly typical cookie cutters statements where they talk about how important the preservation of
civilian lives. It's how they do try to avoid battlefield casualties. The bottom line reality of it is that you have hundreds of thousands of people
that are still trapped inside this very small area in Western Mosul.
You have ISIS that is holding them hostage. You have Iraqis that are trying to move forward and what we're hearing now from the Iraqi Security
Forces that they are going to be trying to change tactics to a certain degree using less airstrikes that at this stage trying to push forward,
drones, sniper teams, more ground movements to try to avoid these civilian casualties.
Because not only, of course, they are the humanitarian aspect of this, the sorrow and the tragedy that it generates, there is also the reality that
they have to still convince the population of Mosul that they, the Iraqi Security Forces, the Iraqi government is not against the population itself.
GORANI: All right, Arwa Damon, thanks very much in Erbil, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon with the very latest there on these reports of civilians
paying a very high price in this battle against ISIS.
By the way, a little bit later in the program, I'll speak directly to an official based in Mosul to find out exactly what they say happen in those
airstrikes that may have hit civilians and also progress in the battle to take Western Mosul and how they can avoid issues in the future in about 20
minutes, the spokesperson for the counterterror forces in Iraq.
Let's turn our attention back to London here. It's been five days since a man named Khalid Masood (ph) created carnage with the murderous rampage
across Westminster Bridge. Now his mother today, we are hearing from her. She is speaking out calling it a horrendous incident.
Janet Adjao (ph) said she was shocked, saddened and numb by her son's actions and that she does not support his beliefs. Those that led to the
murderous actions. We are learning more about Masood's motivations. Police say there is no evidence of an association with ISIS or al Qaeda,
but, quote, "There is clearly an interest in Jihad," unquote.
Meanwhile, the messaging service, WhatsApp, is facing the ire of the British government. It's emerged Masood used the service in the minutes
before the attack. Here is what U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER RUDD, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: That is my view. It is completely unacceptable. There should be no place for terrorist to hide. We need to
make sure that organizations like WhatsApp and there are plenty of others like that don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's bring in Brian Paddick. He is a former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and a member of the House of Lords.
Thank you, Sir, for joining us. First, I want to ask you, do you think the government should have access to encrypted platforms, communication
platforms like WhatsApp in order to track potential terrorist activity?
BRIAN PADDICK, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, METROPOLITAN POLICE: Well, I don't know whether you know how WhatsApp works, but basically when
you press send, when you send a WhatsApp message, the message is scrambled. Only the recipient has the key to decipher that message and the WhatsApp
don't keep messages on their servers once they've been delivered, they are not there anymore.
PADDICK: So in terms of getting access, if there is a back key, backdoor, that is developed to enable security services to access those messages,
that backdoor will also be available to criminals and hostile foreign governments. It's like leaving your key under your doormat. It may be OK
for the kids when they come home, but it could be a burglar who takes the key.
GORANI: Yes. Journalists know full well how those encrypted platforms work. We use them to communicate with sources. Sometimes sources who are
not necessarily in good standing with their government in parts of the world where it wouldn't be very smart to talk critically about your
government. But the question is how then do you track terrorist chatter? I mean, they use the encrypted platforms. So how do you do it?
PADDICK: Well, the first thing to say is whether end to an encryption was banned in the U.K. or not, which of course, would be impossible to do
because these are global apps not U.K. apps.
[15:10:05]It would not have made any difference to -- it wouldn't have saved any lives last Wednesday so as far as the incident last week was
concerned. It's a red herring, but in that case, they found the guy, they killed the guy. They have his phone. Once you have the phone, you can see
what the messages were. Whether they are encrypted or not, the messages that were sent and the messages that were received.
If you're actually keeping an active eye on a particular suspect that you suspect of serious crime or of terrorism then there are ways to bug the
phone, bug the computer. So that whatever is on the screen of that telephone, that mobile phone, that the security services can see that as
well. So there are ways around this through what we call equipment interference --
GORANI: But you'd need to get a hold of the phone. You need to get a hold of the device.
PADDICK: Not necessarily.
GORANI: OK, I guess that -- when you -- I guess that's the bit that's perhaps more technically advanced than what I'm aware of, but there are
ways you're saying of monitoring the conversation of potential suspects in terrorism cases that doesn't involve creating a backdoor to encrypted
PADDICK: Sure. We had to pass legislation last year, the Investigatory Powers Act, which gave the security services and the police service in the
U.K. very wide powers to be able to do this sort of thing. Part of that was equipment interference to enable them to bug people's phones.
The security services have other ways of dealing with this issue other than the impossible task of telling WhatsApp that they can't operate in the U.K.
But the only way you can do that is build a firewall around the U.K. to cut it off from the rest of the internet. What the home secretary in the U.K.
is saying, I'm afraid, is not practical.
GORANI: And there is a meeting lastly between the government and tech giants on Thursday. What is this meeting about? Why bring it up if it's
not feasible do you think? Why would the government even bring up the idea of sort of monitoring WhatsApp and other -- and WhatsApp is, by the way,
owned by Facebook. So this isn't a small startup either. Why bring it up?
PADDICK: Well, whenever you have an incident like this, government feels compelled to tell the public that they are doing something. They are doing
something practical. They are doing something to try and make everybody safer. This is the option that the home secretary has chosen.
Now there are things that can be done to encourage other tech companies to take down ISIS propaganda, to take down a website that was found by one of
the Sunday newspapers in the U.K. where there are instructions about how to kill somebody even if they are wearing a stab-proof vest.
So those sorts of things tech companies can cooperate with the government with to make sure that those details aren't available online. But as far
as end to an encryption is concerned, we are all in danger if we do away with end to end encryption.
GORANI: Lord Brian Paddick, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate your time this evening.
One of the victims of last week's attack was an American tourist, Kurt Cochran was on a holiday with his wife, Melissa. They were celebrating
their 25th wedding anniversary. Now both were knocked over by Khalid Masood's car in Westminster Bridge. Melissa survived. She is in the
hospital recovering from a broken leg and rib.
Speaking in London today, her family said they've been humbled by the love they'd received the past few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINT PAYNE, BROTHER OF WESTMINSTER ATTACK VICTIM: The most difficult part of all of this is that Kurt is no longer with us, and we missed him
terribly. He was an amazing individual who loved everyone and tried to make the world a better place. He left a legacy of generosity and service
that continues to inspire us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Meanwhile, dozens of women have formed a human chain alongside Westminster Bridge to condemn last week's attack. Many wore blue to
symbolize peace and were joined by supporters who stood in silence for 5 minutes. You see a lot of Muslim women there as well wearing head scarves
forming that human chain. The vigil was organized by the Women's March on London today.
A lot more to come this evening. A new week brings new priorities for the White House. We'll see what's next for President Trump after his own party
failed to pass one of his top legislative priorities.
And a top Russian dissident is in jail today after surprisingly large protests in cities across Russia. We'll have a live report from Moscow on
the Kremlin's reaction. We'll be right back.
GORANI: The White House is trying to shift focus after a stinging defeat. President Donald Trump is moving on to tax reform and other matters after
his own party failed to pass health care legislation. He has several public appearances today including bill signing this hour in the oval
office. This was from earlier today.
Mr. Trump pitched himself as the ultimate deal man, the ultimate negotiator during his campaign. But despite Republican control of both Houses of
Congress, he could seal the deal to replace Obamacare.
Another irritation for the president, questions about his campaign ties to Russia that just will not go away, quite the opposite. We are now learning
that a Senate committee investigating those ties wants to speak with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law and one of his closest advisers.
Let's bring in Sean Sullivan, a political reporter for the "Washington Post." Thanks for being with us. First, let's talk about this big fail on
health care reform. They tried it. They weren't -- they did not succeed in passing that bill. And now they've quickly moved on to tax reform,
that's not easy either.
SEAN SULLIVAN, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That could even harder than tackling health care reform. It really was a pretty stunning
failure of the White House and of the Republican Congress. As you mentioned, they control all aspects of government, but what happened with
this bill is that you had conservatives opposing it from the right saying this doesn't go far enough to undo Obamacare.
And then you have moderates opposing it from the left saying it goes too far. It kind of put Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan in an impossible position
and they had to yank the bill on Friday, and they are still dealing with the repercussions today.
GORANI: And Donald Trump is deflecting. He's deflecting the failure. He's accusing everyone else. He's accusing his own party. He even tweeted
to his millions of followers to watch a Fox News show called "The Judge Jeanine," in which he just unloaded against Paul Ryan, the speaker. What -
- I mean, what did Washington veterans make of how Trump has reacted so far to this defeat?
SULLIVAN: Well, I think they are still trying to make sense of it because initially he blamed Democrats and said, look, if we had more Democrats who
are willing to cross over and vote with this, this could have turned out differently. He pivoted a couple of days later and he blamed the
conservatives. He blamed the House Freedom Caucus. He blamed groups like the Club for Growth that came out hard against this bill. So he is sort of
directing blame in different directions.
Now seems to be signaling that we wants to work with moderate Democrats, not necessarily conservatives anymore. So there's a lot of confusion and
I'm not sure that the White House still understands what its governing coalition is and what its best chance is of passing big things like tax
GORANI: But in the meantime with ordinary Americans, this is not playing out well because the latest Gallup poll on the president's popularity
rating, this is a new low for him. He's at 36 percent approval rating, 57 percent of Americans polled disapprove of the way Trump is -- of his
presidency so far. That snapshot in time. I mean, this has got to be worrying for the White House, right?
[15:20:08]SULLIVAN: Absolutely. I mean, when you have a popular president, one of the things you can do is you can lean on members who
might be on the fence about uncertain things and you can pressure them if you're popular, you know, why wouldn't these lawmakers want to work with
you. It would be politically beneficial for them.
But when you're as unpopular as Trump is right now, not only does it make it hard to win any Democrats, it's also makes it hard to win a lot of
Republicans. There is not a lot of incentive for Republicans in swing districts right now to work with this president because of how unpopular he
is as you just mentioned and the Gallup poll really, really bad numbers for him right now.
GORANI: And meanwhile, this Russia cloud is still hanging over the White House and the Trump administration, and we are hearing that the son-in-law
of President Trump, Jared Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump, has volunteered to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Sean Spicer, the press secretary was asked about this a little bit earlier. Here's what he had to day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Based on the questions around this, he volunteered to go and sit down to them and say, I'm glad you
talked about the role that I played and the individuals I met with. But again, remember, given the role that he played both during the campaign and
during the transition, he met with countless individuals that was part of his job.
That was part of his role and he executed it completely as he was supposed to. You're acting as though there is something nefarious about doing what
he was actually tasked to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) someone is in position like Jared's and volunteers to go talk to these senators --
SPICER: No, no --
SPICER: And I think based on the media frenzy around this, he wants -- and I'm answering it. And I'm just saying to you that based on the media
frenzy that exists around this, he volunteered to make sure that he said we've made some contacts, I'd be glad to explain them. Let me know if
you'd like to talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And that was Sean Spicer, and Sean, what do we expect then going forward in terms of all these individuals who volunteered to speak, Jared
Kushner, Paul Manafort as well, the ex-campaign manager, Carter Page, Roger Stone, the adviser. What is going to happen then in the coming months?
SULLIVAN: Well, I think the one thing we can say for certain is it's not going away anytime soon the question of Russian meddling in the election.
The question of potential ties between Trump associates and Russia, you know, the list of individuals who were involved in the campaign or who were
now involved in the administration, who have come under scrutiny is growing really, really big. You have two different Senate investigations right
now. It seems like they are trying to piece together everything. It kind of make sense of the whole of this.
But again, you look at Trump, he's trying to do tax reform right now. He's trying to do other things. This is not what he wants to be dealing with
right now. This is another distraction that threatens to derail his agenda as he starts out his presidency right now.
GORANI: Sean, one last question, Mike Flynn, the ex-national security adviser, not one of the people volunteering to testify anywhere. Do we
SULLIVAN: No. No, we really don't, and I think there's a lot of Democrats who want to hear from him even though he is not a part of this
administration anymore. They do feel that he could shed light on a lot of questions that they think are still unanswered. So (inaudible) to see some
Democrats continue to call for, you know, him to appear or for him to say what more he knows or you know, may not have disclosed this one in time.
GORANI: Sean Sullivan, thanks very much, of "The Washington Post." Thanks for being with us.
A day after a wave of street protests swept across Russia. The prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is behind bars. A Moscow court
sentenced him to 15 days in jail, fined him about $350 for organizing the march in Moscow disturbing the peace and disobeying a police officer.
Navalny responded with a tweet, quote, "The time will come when we will judge them." The surprisingly large and widespread protest Sunday
denounced government corruption. Hundreds of protesters were arrested and the kremlin says this was all illegal.
Navalny has openly accused top Russian officials of corruption most prominently the prime minister and this weekend's process may have made him
much more of an irritant to the kremlin.
Senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, joins us now from Moscow with more. Tell us more about Navalny and you know, sort of the
current, very tense environment -- the sometimes dangerous aspect of being an opponent to the kremlin.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It is very dangerous to be a critic of the powerful in Russia. Whether it's the
kremlin or other power centers. And of course, it's very difficult for somebody, an individual like Navalny to break through the kremlin's iron
grip on the media to build a populous support base amongst ordinary Russians that's outside the normal sort of political process, which again
is very much controlled through the media and through the kremlin by the established kremlin kind of figures.
[15:25:04]But Alexie Navalny appears to be an exception. These mass protests across the country in which thousands of people took part over the
weekend or on Sunday are evidence of that. And even though the kremlin says that the opposition under Navalny that is provoking law breaking and
provoking violence, it's going to find it very hard to ignore this very strong opposition anti-kremlin message that's been delivered.
CHANCE (voice-over): The mass protests across Russia underlined the growing threat posed by Alexie Navalny to the kremlin's grip on power.
Within minutes riot police in Moscow dragged him off the street and into detention.
At a brief court appearance on Monday, Navalny was fined and jailed for 15 days. But his proven ability to assemble mass protests across Russia has
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's his crusade against official corruption that's fueling support for Navalny among ordinary Russians.
CHANCE: Recent documentary alleging the Russian prime minister has a vast property portfolio including mansions, yachts, and vineyards. It's been
watched by millions online.
Dmitri Medvedev (ph), prime minister and former president of Russia is crazing about money and elite real estate, Navalny says. The prime
minister's office calls the allegations propaganda, but the issue has touched a nerve undermining support for an already unpopular (inaudible)
But opposing the powerful in Russia carries risks, earlier this month, Navalny was campaigning in Siberia, but he was douched with a suspicious
green liquid. It turns out to have been a harmless antiseptic stain, but it didn't stop Navalny calling on Russians to protest.
If the kremlin really thinks I won't record new videos with a green face, he said, they are wrong. But with Navalny's office now being raided and
the man himself locked behind bars, used of organizing illegal protests, efforts to silence Russia's most dangerous opposition figure, may have
reached a more determined phase.
CHANCE: It's not clear at this stage what the authorities planned to do next. As we say, he's in jail. He's behind bars for the next 15 days.
Alexei Navalny, though, says that he's not deterred and that he wants to contest the presidential elections when they take place in 2018.
GORANI: All right, Matthew Chance, our senior international correspondent in Moscow. Coming up, another prominent dissident, Vladimir Karamurza
(ph), says the kremlin has tried to poison him twice. I'll speak to him live coming up.
And only two days before she makes history by triggering Article 50, the British prime minister is in Scotland. She is calling for unity. Theresa
May's hectic week next.
[15:30:54] GORANI: The U.S. and Iraq are now investigating reports of many civilian deaths in western Mosul after a U.S.-led coalition airstrike
struck in the same area amid the ongoing fight against ISIS and caused, according to eyewitnesses, up to 200 killed. What we do know is that an
Iraqi official says at least 112 bodies have been pulled from the rubble.
Let's get straight to Mosul. Joining me now from the line is Sabah Al Noman. He's the spokesperson for the Iraqi Counterterrorism Unit.
Thanks for being with us. We're talking about an airstrike or airstrikes around March 17th that may have killed up to 200 civilians. What is the
latest casualty number that you can share with us?
SABAH AL NOMAN, SPOKESPERSON, IRAQI COUNTERTERRORISM SERVICE (via phone): OK. Thank you very much. The investigations about this accident is still
going on. A higher command (inaudible) are visiting the place which they destroyed. Until now, it's not clear that it's because of the airstrikes,
and there's no any hole because of the airstrike.
When we are -- investigate and checking the house, it was fully exploded by the ISIS. And the people, they are arrested and taken hostage inside this
building, on this house. And also, in front of the house, there, the enemy parking a very long oil tank, which exploded and causing this large number
AL NOMAN (via phone): Until now, the bodies, about 61 bodies, and we hope there's no more inside the house. And we're still finding if there's more
bodies in the end of the house.
GORANI: How many are civilians? You're saying 61 bodies. It's different from the number that we've been given from an Iraqi official. Of the 61
bodies, how many were civilians?
AL NOMAN (via phone): Well, we had a survey earlier to count the whole number, but we success to evacuate about 61 bodies. And the civilian,
still finding if there is more bodies inside the destroyed house. We hope there is no more bodies inside that, but we are still checking if there is
more bodies inside this.
GORANI: But how many of them were civilians, children, women?
AL NOMAN (via phone): There is no accurate number about how many civilians were inside this house before it's destroyed by an exploded oil truck.
There is no accurate number about how many civilians inside this building.
GORANI: Yes. But you're saying it's not even a certainty, according to you, that it was a coalition airstrike. Then what else would have caused
so much damage? The whole building was destroyed and a tanker blew up.
AL NOMAN (via phone): Well, according to the used damage that we found, it's not caused by airstrike. Even the investigations still going on,
there is no any announcement until now because we are waiting for the end of this investigation. But according to the area and according to the
situation that we found, the explosion is not by airstrike. Still, there is no hole because of the airstrike. The used damage is because of an
And also in front of these houses, there was a long oil truck. It's exploded by ISIS. And also, the airstrike, they did some airstrike
according to information from the Iraqi intelligence but not in this area, in another area.
[15:35:12] GORANI: OK. So you're saying, in this particular case, it may not have been an airstrike. But there had been some reports that
potentially it was, but we'll wait for the result of the investigation.
Meantime, Sabah Al Noman, the Iraqi Counterterror Unit spokesperson joining us from near Mosul. Thank you very much for being on CNN.
Now, back to our story about Russia, the government called Sunday's protest illegal then jailed the opposition activist, Alexei Navalny. But Navalny
is not the only Russian opposition figure who says he's been targeted by the Kremlin.
This video shows Putin critic, Vladimir Kara-Murza on the right, through the crosshairs of a gun. It appeared on the Instagram page of one of
Putin's allies a year ago. Fast forward to last month and Kara-Murza is taken suddenly and critically in Moscow, complete organ failure. His wife
said he had a 5 percent chance of survival. Vladimir Kara-Murza is now recovering but says he believes he was poisoned, not once but twice,
pointing the finger firmly at the Kremlin.
A spokesperson for Putin rejected the claim, telling the CNN, quote, "It's pure nonsense to make any connection of this unfortunate case with
President Putin," unquote.
Let's get more from the man himself, Vladimir Kara-Murza. He's in Washington where he's getting medical treatment and joins me now live.
Thank you for being with us. First, I'd like to ask you how you are doing. You say you've been poisoned twice; you were near death twice. Your wife,
herself, said you had 5 percent chance of survival just a few weeks ago, and here you are. How are you feeling?
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, RUSSIAN ACTIVIST: Hello, Hala. And it's good to be with you, and I really mean this in more ways than one. And I'm
It's going to take a while until full recovery. Last time, it took me more than year. This time, I'm expecting probably something similar, but I'm
trying to resume some of my work. I'm trying to be active as I can.
And, of course, I'm very, very grateful and very fortunate to be here. As you mentioned, doctors did say that it was about a 5 percent chance that I
will make it, both times, in 2015 after the first poisoning and last month, so it's certainly very good to be here.
And as soon as I'm feeling able to, I'm going to return to my work and resume my work and my activities in the Russian opposition, of course.
GORANI: So you're going back to Moscow, that's your plan, even though, you say, you were the target of an assassination attempt twice?
KARA-MURZA: Well, Russia's my home. Russia's my country. I feel that the work that we do is important. You've seen -- you've just covered them on
your show a few minutes ago -- those mass protests that we had across our country just yesterday -- 82 cities, tens and thousands of people, mostly
This is very important, by the way. Mr. Putin has been in power for 17 years, almost a generation. And these people, these college students,
these high school kids in many cases, that went out to the streets of Russia yesterday to protest against this regime, against its corruption,
against the impunity for such behavior under the current government, this is the Putin generation.
These are the people that are being born and raised under Vladimir Putin, and he is losing them because they're fed up with the voicelessness.
They're fed up with corruption. They're fed with authoritarianism and the lack of free and fair elections. They're fed up with the lack of future
and lack of prospects.
And frankly, I think it is our responsibility before those people to continue the work we're doing. And, of course, I have no intention of
giving up or running away. I will return to Russia when I'm physically able to, once I fully recover because doctors are strongly advising that I
need to get fully recovered after the second poisoning in two years before I can get back to work. So I'm probably going to listen to them this time.
GORANI: Right. But what do you --
KARA-MURZA: Last time, I returned just a few months after --
GORANI: Can I ask you, I mean, tangibly, on the ground, what is it that you want to try to achieve in Russia? I mean, at this stage, we've seen
instances, for instance, Denis Voronenko, a former Russian lawmaker murdered in broad daylight in Ukraine. What is worth taking such a risk
for, in your opinion, and how do you plan on achieving it?
KARA-MURZA: Well, this, this travesty of a crackdowns and repressions and threats, this is what Mr. Putin and his regime would like the world and
everyone to see. And, in fact, as you know, Mr. Putin and his regime have long enjoined to equate themselves with Russia.
And one of his top aides, Vyacheslav Volodin, who is the current Speaker of the Parliament, was recently on record saying there is no Russia without
Putin, something, which is, in my view, insulting towards our country. But, unfortunately, too many people in the West, including political
leaders in the West, have been falling into this trap, if I may so, and have been equating Putin and Russia when, in fact, Russia's very different.
Russia's very diverse.
And these young people, this young generation, that came out to the streets yesterday and that continues to become more and more actively involved in
political and civic life, this is also Russia. In fact, this is the Russia of tomorrow. And I think our main work should be and, in fact, is focused
on this new generation.
[15:40:10] The movement that I have the honor of representing, Open Russia, which is a pro-democracy movement founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the main
focus of our work certainly is the young generation. It is the young people across the country. And all our projects are directed to this young
All the events we hold across Russia, the public debates, the discussions, the film screenings, the lectures, you know, everything we can do to try to
maintain and expand that space for public discussion that is being increasingly repressed and shrink under this regime, several human rights
and legal support projects that we engage in, the media project that we try to support despite the official propaganda and the official censorship that
is being placed in Russia in the mainstream media, in the largest reach media under Mr. Putin for many, many years.
All of these projects and all these initiatives are directed at umpiring and consolidating the young generation of democratic activists in Russia.
GORANI: So can I ask you about the young generation --
KARA-MURZA: The people who take this responsibility --
GORANI: So I just wanted to jump in because you mentioned these protests. They were bigger than, I think, many people expected, when they drew big
crowds. There were hundreds of arrests, et cetera. Were you surprised at the size of them?
KARA-MURZA: Well, not really because I travel widely around Russia, outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, in many, many regions. And
everywhere I go and everywhere we hold events, there are people who are rejecting this regime, who reject everything it stands for, you know, its
autocracy, its corruption, its isolation and aggression with regards to the outside world, and who wants to see Russia become a normal, modern,
democratic European country. This is the new generation of Russia.
GORANI: But yet Vladimir Putin, he's rather popular if you look at his actual popularity rating inside of Russia.
KARA-MURZA: Well, you know, frankly, there's nothing but smile that can be a reaction to these things. Of course, these are the Kremlin claims,
And when you've been in power for 17 years, when you have shut down and silenced every single large, independent media outlet, when you have
removed your opponents from the ballot -- in many cases, put your opponents in prison, and in other cases, unfortunately, deprived your opponents of
life as happened with Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who was killed two years ago just in front of the Kremlin -- when you've done all
that and you maintain a relentless propaganda in the media, and when you try to scare people by keeping them in prison or exile, I don't think it's
really meaningful to talk about any kind of popularity or any kind of opinion polls.
I think the real worth of all of these was actually shown yesterday. When you see those tens and thousands of people across Russia protesting against
the Putin regime, and nobody came out in support of the Putin regime. The only institution he has in his defense are the riot police and the National
And if you really were that popular, let me ask you, why would he need to rig elections one after another? Why would he need to silence independent
media? And why would he need to jail or exile or kill his opponents, if he really were as popular as he claims to be?
GORANI: I just want to ask you a last question on a personal note. Obviously, you have kids, you're married. First of all, have you figured
it out what poison was used to try to kill you? And secondly, what do you tell your family before heading back to Moscow when it's clearly risky for
you to do so and it almost cost you your life twice?
KARA-MURZA: Well, as far as the poison, the doctors have stated in the official diagnosis that it was an undefined toxin. They haven't determined
what it is. They did say it was some kind of a toxin, but we don't know exactly what. And, of course, you know, Russian domestic security services
have had this laboratory for poisons and toxins for many, many years -- I should say, many decades -- and they've really been sophisticated with
There are some toxicologists who are working on my blood samples to try to see if they can find out. And, of course, if they do find something out,
we'll definitely let people know. But for know, we know it was an undefined toxin to led to a multiple organ failure and left me in a coma
within hours. And I'm very grateful to the doctors who saved my life twice in Moscow in the last two years.
In terms of the personal cost, I mean, of course, we have known for a long time that it is a dangerous vocation to be in opposition to Mr. Putin's
regime, and so many people have paid, you know, for it with their freedom or with having to leave the country or with their lives, as Boris Nemtsov
and so many others.
But I think what we're doing is right. I think what we're doing is important because Russia is our country. And I think this regime, the
regime of Vladimir Putin, is robbing our country and our young generation of future and of prospects.
And if we're serious about this, we have to continue our work, yes, at great personal risk. And, of course, my family is worried and my wife is
worried. But, you know, I'm very fortunate to have this woman in my life. She understands, she knows who she married.
And I think -- not "I think," I know that I will resume my work. I will go back and I will continue then what we're doing. And I know that one day,
Russia will be free because the Russian people, just as any other people, is deserving to live under rule of law, under a democratic system of
government where human rights are respected. And I have absolutely no doubt that this is the future that awaits our country.
[15:45:06] GORANI: Vladimir Kara-Murza, thank you very much for joining us in Washington. And we're glad that you're getting healthier.
KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much. It's good to be with you.
GORANI: So thank you so much also for making time for us. Thank you.
And don't forget, you could check out our Facebook page. We'll post some of our interview with Vladimir Kara-Murza. You will find it at
facebook.com/halagoranicnn. We'll be right back.
GORANI: British Prime Minister Theresa May has started a very bust week in Scotland where she met with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The theme for
May was British unity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: This united kingdom and the values at its heart is one of the greatest forces for good in the world
today. And when we work together and set our sights on the task, we really are an unstoppable force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, when Theresa May triggers Article 50 later this week, it will mark a leap into the unknown for both the U.K. and the E.U. Well, I
spoke to Pierre Moscovici, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs. I began by asking him if he was confident that a deal
can be struck within two years.
PIERRE MOSCOVICI, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS, TAXATION, AND CUSTOMS: What I know is that, as well, the U.K. and the E.U.
have common interests, shared values, and must stay very close partners, as well, in defense, research, innovation, and that we need absolutely to get
to important deals such as the free trade deals. But this can only be discussed after we find a good strong basis of agreement on the Brexit.
And so I think it's necessary to get there, but the negotiations will start. And we must absolutely try to find a good deal with some basic
principles. We have ours. I imagine that Madam May has hers.
GORANI: Yes. I mean, one of the things you said in January in Davos is Brexit is not positive, neither for us nor for the United Kingdom. In
other words, it sounded back in January like you didn't think it was possible to get a positive deal for everybody. Are you still of that mind
MOSCOVICI: No, that's not what I meant. What I meant is that, of course, I respect the vote of the British people, but I regret it because it's
complicated for both of us. It's not a win-win situation, but we must avoid that it is a lose-lose situation. We must do our best.
And what are doing with Europeans? We will negotiate for our own interest as the U.K. will negotiate for its interest. We are going to negotiate
citizens first. For us, the main concern is that European citizens from the 27 member states have their interest defended.
[15:50:04] We need to have financial agreements which are very clear and that means that everybody has to fulfill his duty. We are going also to
say that there is pick and choose as far as the internal market is concerned. And finally, we want to build a common future with the U.K.
The U.K. won't be a member of the E.U., but it will always be a European country.
GORANI: Do you think these can all be done in two years' time, all these very complex set of negotiations? Is that realistic?
MOSCOVICI: It has to be done. You know, the treaties are quite clear. And as Michel Barnier said, on the 29th of March, 2019, we must be there.
We must have concluded this negotiation.
Yes, it's absolutely doable. For that, we need to have a common spirit, the spirit of friendship, a spirit of pragmatism. We need to defend our
own interest but also with the view to get to a common agreement, as well, for the present and for the future. Yes, it's doable and it must be done.
GORANI: Well, I mean, it's doable. You know, when Greenland exited the European market, it took them three years just to negotiate their fisheries
industry. I mean, we're talking about a much more complex set of negotiations. Is it not possible, in your opinion, that after two years,
Brexit happens without a deal on every sector, on every aspect of the economy or the common market or the customs union?
MOSCOVICI: I'm not going to jump to conclusions on a negotiation which has not even started, but I know what the rules are. We are talking about
Brexit. We are talking about Article 50.
And the timetable is very clear. It has to be done. It has to be solved in two years. And so, we are going to mobilize, I imagine, both sides'
huge resources. We are ready. Our team is ready. Our negotiator is ready. The whole Commission is ready.
GORANI: And Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is in Scotland today. She's saying to the Scots, you know, we're better together. Don't hold another
referendum. Don't think of breaking away from the U.K. again. Do you think it should be the right of Scottish citizens to hold a second
referendum on independence after Brexit?
MOSCOVICI: We are not discussing about that. We always discuss with unified states. And for us, the interlocutor obviously is in London. It
is the British government.
But what that proves is that leaving the E.U. is also a divisive question inside the U.K. But, again, interlocutors, our legislative interlocutors,
our own interlocutors, are in London. We don't have to interfere into the British political life.
GORANI: And there is some debate inside your country as well, France, and there's a very important presidential election on April 23rd. And the
frontrunner, according to many polls, Marine Le Pen, believes that there should be a Frexit, that France shouldn't be, even though it's a founding,
crucial member, a member of the European Union. I mean, how much of a possibility, how much of an eventuality, do you think it is that someone
like Marine Le Pen could actually win the election?
MOSCOVICI: For me, she cannot win the elections. She won't win the election. And I don't see any poll which shows that she could. At the
better or the worst case -- the worst for France, the better for her -- she's somewhere around 40 percent. And to stick around, you need to have
No, she won't be our president but 40 percent is much too much. Twenty- five percent in the first round is much too much. And that's why I hope the campaign, in the last days, will be really decisive campaign, showing
that Frexit is the end of the E.U., but it's also a weakening for France.
GORANI: All right. There he is, Pierre Moscovici. He doesn't think Marine Le Pen will get elected. We'll know soon enough.
Coming up, they are wardrobe staples for some women and girls, but wearing leggings was enough to keep two teenagers from boarding a flight,
triggering an uproar on social media.
[15:55:21] GORANI: United Airlines is at the center of a social media storm after two girls were banned from a flight because they were wearing
leggings, but the airline was quick to point out, they were not holding ordinary tickets. Let's bring in Samuel Burke, CNN's business and --
Money's -- OK, I've got it all mixed up.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNNMONEY BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: It's all there, don't worry.
GORANI: Anyway, Samuel Burke needs no introduction. What happened here?
BURKE: Long story short, United Airlines set itself up for a disaster with this unknown, obscure policy. There was a woman live tweeting, watching
what was happening right in front of her, when she saw two teenage -- we don't know exactly how old -- be told that they couldn't wear leggings --
yoga pants, in case you're having to google that -- because it didn't fit the attire that they were supposed to be adhering to.
Another little girl behind them, 10 years old, heard all of that. She switched out of her outfit, I guess, in fear. It turns out, if you're
using the buddy pass system, you have a friend or a family member who works for United, you have to adhere to business attire, and that leggings don't
cut it. That's not --
GORANI: But what's business attire for a teen though? Like, what should they have been wearing?
BURKE: Not leggings.
GORANI: OK. Apparently.
BURKE: That's really the definitive answer here.
GORANI: I'm wearing leggings under the desk.
BURKE: Well, don't tell the network that.
GORANI: No, I'm not. No, I'm not.
BURKE: But take a look at some of these tweets, and it really had people quite upset. I think a lot of people felt that it was sexist, that a woman
wasn't allowed to wear tight pants.
And take a look at what Sarah Silverman said. She got in the action, actually tweeting United. She said, "Alright. I understand but I suggest
you consider updating your rules for friends and family as they seem to apply mostly to females and are outdated."
GORANI: Well, what if a boy wears meggings? Then what?
BURKE: Yes, I've worn them from time to time. You know the guys in the NFL wear them.
BURKE: I look more or less like them in this case.
GORANI: But this is a buddy thing, right? The buddy pass is different.
BURKE: Yes. So it's not for the average passenger like you and like me. But if you're flying with a friend or family, you kind of have to step it
up. You don't get that free ticket for nothing.
Take a look at what I found, though. An old tweet from United Airlines, check this out. We did some deep investigation here. "If your yoga
routine feels routine, find new places to say Ommm." And look what she's wearing! And this is from the United account.
And lastly, and I think the best tweet that I've seen all day, Aimela5 says, "thank you for bringing back old fashion value! What about leg room
and real food and drinks?"
BURKE: And that says it all.
GORANI: There you have it. All right, well, this teaches us a lesson or two also about social media. A random mill, everyday event blows up
GORANI: It could get international.
BURKE: They should have just stepped, United.
GORANI: I don't know. We'll see.
BURKE: Give it up.
GORANI: Tell us what you think. Thanks very much, Samuel.
This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. I'll see you same time, same place tomorrow. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.