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U.K. Announced Measures Against Russia Expels Diplomats; Russian Embassy: U.K.'s Measures Unacceptable, Unjustified; U.N. Security Council Holds Emergency Session On U.K. Spy Attack. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 14, 2018 - 16:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London. I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, in a defiant and angry speech, Theresa May says Britain will expel 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of an ex-spy on U.K. soil.

Also, ahead, as the world celebrates the life and legacy of Stephen Hawking, we'll speak to one of his colleagues about his unique zest for


From Beijing to Boston, Lagos to London, how students around the world are standing up against modern-day slavery.

Now we begin tonight with the diplomatic crisis, deepening, it seems, by the hour. Russia and the United Kingdom have been trading insults and

threats for days over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter. Theresa may has now laid down a raft of concrete measures.

Among them, expelling 23 Russian diplomats from the country, the largest such expulsion in 30 years. Also, suspending all planned high-level

bilateral contacts between the two countries.

A crackdown as well on, quote, "corrupt elites" as she had a pointed message for those seeking to do the U.K. harm. Listen to May.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, let me be clear, while our response must be robust, it must also remain true to our values as a

liberal democracy that believes in the rule of law. Many Russians have made this country their home, abide by our laws and make an important

contribution to our country, which we must continue to welcome, but to those who seek to us harm, my message is simple. You are not welcome here.


GORANI: Russia has reacted strongly once again and called the measures a "gross provocation," quote/unquote, and a hostile action. It's vowing to

retaliate, unclear how it will do that.

Let's get more on all of this. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is here with me in London. In Moscow, Fred Pleitgen. Nick, first of all, let's start with

these measures. So, really, we are not talking targeted financial sanctions or measures against specific individuals.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. There is a degree of predictability about this, to be honest. I mean, 23 diplomats

being given a week to leave, accused of being undeclared spies effectively. That's something that obviously Moscow will respond by expelling 23 British

diplomats probably in the same timeframe.

The interesting bit will be exactly how the detail of these legislative changes actually occur. The amendments to various legislations, targeting

sanctions and supposedly mimicking the Sergei Magnitzky Act targeting the United States, which targets those who violated human rights people in


How broad is that? How broad are the new powers against what they refer to as Russian-state assets in the U.K. which may seek to do U.K. citizens

harm, that was all left a little bit nebulous here.

Really what we got today was a long, substantial speech which was trying to say that the U.K. was going alone and inflicting harm on Moscow, but really

they just said we are not going to talk to you for a while and we're going to cut half your embassy.

GORANI: Right. We're talking here 23 out of about almost 60 diplomats in London. And Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, what might the Russian response be?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a very question. The Russians came out earlier today and said that if there

were expulsions by the Brits that there would be a tit for tat response and does that mean that the Russians are also going to expel 23 British


It really is unclear at this point. We got a statement a little earlier today a couple of hours ago from the Foreign Ministry, where they said our

response will be forthcoming and it won't take long.

However, as of right now, we have not seen any sort of response from the Russians yet. Again, they say they believe that all of this is not lawful.

They say it's unacceptable and they will react. They haven't said how they're going to do that.

And Hala, the main issue that the Russians say that they have is that they believe that under the Convention of the OPCW, the organization to prevent

chemical weapons, they want to be able to see the samples, that the Brits took at that place.

They say, as the party that's essentially being accused of using chemical weapons on British soil, they have the right to do that under the Treaty of

the OPCW. They say they've not been granted that and therefore, they're not even going to reply to the British ultimatum, which is out there.

They don't want to reply yet anyway now, but even after the Brits have announced these measures. But they say they have the right to do that and

they feel that if the British government is accusing them publicly and not backing that up with giving them samples, they think that that's something

that harms relations between the two countries -- Hala.

GORANI: Fred, stand by. Nic, we just heard from the deputy British ambassador to the U.N. just now who had some harsh words for Russia.

Listen to what he said.


JONATHAN ALLEN, U.K. DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO U.N.: Mr. President, on the 4th of March, a weapon so horrific that it is banned from

use in war was used in a peaceful city in my country. This was a reckless act carried out by people who disregard the sanctity of human life, who are

indifferent to where are innocents are caught up in their attacks. They either did not care that the weapon used would be traced back to them or

mistakenly believed that they could cover their traces.


[16:05:01] GORANI: That was Jonathan Allen, the U.K. representative, but Nick and Fred, stand by, we are now hearing from the Russian

representative, he is speaking live in New York.

VASILY NEBENZIA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS (through translator): -- to an open briefing. We did this not without thinking. It is because

we wanted to make sure that everyone should see what is happening here. Because the letter which contains completely irresponsible statements in

which it is even difficult for me to comment while using diplomatic vocabulary.

It contains threats to the sovereign state towards a permanent member of the Security Council, which it varies with international law and chapters

2.4 of the U.N. Charter. I would like to understand the following, we do hope our British colleagues understand this.

And the first question that we want to put to this, why is it that the representatives of the United Kingdom are dragging this issue into the

Security Council and at the same time, they ignore the procedures which London, in line with their own international commitments has to abide by,

namely involving the specialized organizations.

We are talking about the use of a toxic chemical on British soil. We see that the answer to this is obvious. The reason this has been dragged into

the Security Council because they do understand the real experts and the genuine experts on chemical weapons are in The Hague and those experts will

not be convinced by their arguments.

In other words, they are afraid of having a real, genuine professional discussion of this topic. This shows that the initiators of this meeting

are being guided by something completely different.

The Russian federation thinks that it's completely unacceptable to launch unjustified accusations as contained in the letter from Theresa May dated

13th of March to the secretary-general of the U.N.

It states that we had something to do with the use of toxic agents in Salisbury, and we were given an ultimatum and requested in 24 hours to

admit that we excited a crime. In other words, confess.

We do not speak the language of ultimatums. We do not use that language with anyone and we will not allow to be spoken to in that language either,

but we are polite. And on the 13th of March, we did descend a note to the foreign office where we re-affirmed that we had nothing to do with this

incident and asked for the samples of the substance being used and also asked for a joint investigation.

All the more so since one of the people impacted was a Russian national. This request was refused. In other words, hysterical atmosphere is being

created by London and also being completely nontransparent in this.

What we saw today the announcement that Russian diplomats are being expelled and bilateral relations are being frozen. I want to ask my U.K.

colleague whether this applies to the U.N. as well.

We also saw an announcement about a prepared cyber-attack against Russia. We would like to warn that this is not -- that this will not remain without

reaction on our part. We are compelled to make the following conclusion that the authorities of the U.K. are interested in finding the truth and

last, they are guided by something else.

They are using a propaganda war in ways of recent years and they are trying to thus influence the public which is very easy to influence and not felt

educated, but this does not have any facts without other than the unsubstantiated claim that there is a Russian trace in all of this.

This is not the first time when Russian nationals in the U.K. or people from Russia and the U.K. have had their life endangered where such

instances are not investigated, or we are not allowed to become acquainted with such investigations.

London should first try and determine what it is that's happening on their territory before going ahead and accusing others because that's what polite

people do.

[16:10:08] We would suggest to the British side to immediately involve the procedures

in Chapter 9.2 of the Convention of Chemical Weapons because it provides for a request for explanation and providing answers to the requesting state

as quickly as possible and in any event, no later than ten days after the request was receive.

The British colleagues do know about that, but they are in no hurry of invoking the convention which they're a party to. We demand that material

proof be provided of the alleged found Russian trace in this high resonance event without stating that there is incontrovertible truth is not something

that we can take into account.

Until now we have not seen anything besides stating that this is highly likely. In such a situation, it would be legitimate to approach the

technical secretariat of OPCW and asked them to carry out an independent laboratory analysis that the British authorities -- of the samples that

British authorities have.

Now, a few words about the chemical side of it, in the Russian Federation no scientific research or development were under the title (inaudible) were

carried out. Since the 1970s, a whole number of countries implemented programs on creating new types of chemical and paralytic agents in

particular in the United States and in the Soviet Union, and this was Called VX.

In line with the decree by the president of the Russian Federation in 1992, the Soviet developmental work in the era of chemical weapons in Russia were

stopped. In 2017, the Russian Federation completed the destruction of all existing stocks of chemical weapons and this has been verified by the

relevant international entity, namely the Organization in the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

By the way, the United States has not to date destroyed their chemical stockpile. In the middle of the 1990s, the western special services moved

to the west a number of our specialists and their names are well known and also some documentation was taken out of our country and continued their

work in this -- in this area, including in the U.S. and the U.K.

The positive results that they have obtained of creating new chemical agents which for some reason in the west are classified as Novichok has

been confirmed and reflected in more than 200 open sources of NATO countries and we do have the reference to that and we stand ready to

provide you with them.

The identification, per se, of the toxic substance used in the incident was carried out in Porch Down, which is the scientific center of the Ministry

of Defense. This is the place which was the basis for the development of the chemical weapons including the chemical weapons of this kind.

The most probable source origin for this chemical are countries which have since the end of the '90s been carrying -- carrying out intensive research

on these kinds of weapons including the U.K. We are not chemists here.

Let me just quote the opinion of a professional chemist. For the British specialist to be perfectly confident in stating that this gas is a Novichok

kind of gas and not any other kind, they need to have what we call control standard in order to prove that that is the exact compound.

It needs to be compared to a standard. If they state that this is a Novichok kind of gas, (inaudible) means that they have a (inaudible)

standard for this substance, in other words, they have a collection and they have the formula.

And this is the most important point in the whole story. In other words, if the U.K. is so firmly convinced this is a Novichok gas then that means

that they have the samples of this and they have the formula for this and they're capable of manufacturing that.

[16:15:03] Mr. President, we are living in very, very special times. In front of our eyes incredible things are happening. The process of

replacing the presumption of innocence with the presumption of guilt is taking place, and this criminal law principle is now being transferred into

international relations.

Today, Ambassador Haley is an experienced chemist and an expert in that area stated talked today about the crimes committed by Russia. We have

known for a very long that for you in order to determine who is a guilty party, no investigation is needed.

In the letter by the prime minister of the U.K., it is stated that this is highly likely, but even in this, you have exceeded your reliable ally. The

Soviet prosecutor thought the confession was the best kind of proof, well, now using the expression of Minister Lavrov, what is the best kind of

proof? It's suspicion.

It is no longer necessary to show to the council test tubes with unknown white substance in it. It is enough to send a letter which contains an

egregious attitude towards a sovereign state and we are witnessing the same when it comes to Syria and now Russia is being pushed toward the number of

those who are violating the convention.

Let me simply remind you, the U.K. involvement in illegal attacks on independent states including using unsubstantiated proof. Yugoslavia,

Iraq, Libya, this led to numerous suffering amongst civilians.

Don't forget the U.K. is well known as a state which uses targeted assassinations by drones and listening and hearing from your invectives

against us is something that is odd. When there is no proof behind them is all the more odd.

In jurisprudence and in life in general, there is a principle. The principle quid bono or quid protest in other words look for those whose

benefit this is being done. Well, what do you think? This incident is this something that benefits Russia on the eve of presidential elections

and the world football championship?

But I can name a number of countries who are but abiding by the principle of the presumption of innocence, I will not name them, but I can think of a

number of countries who would benefit a great deal from this incident and accusing Russia of it.

What do you think? What could be the motivation that the prime minister of U.K. is using that Russia could have for the attempt on Sergei Skripal?

Who, after the investigation, after he served his sentence and then pardoned and given over to the British was no longer of any kind of threat

to my country.

But he is a perfect victim which could justify any unthinkable lie, any kind of dirt or any kind of black PR tarnishing Russia. We have stated

many a times that anything along those lines, any kind of a provocation before certain events could happen.

And today, we are witnessing the fact that the authorities of the U.K. are consciously traying to tarnish Russia stooping to any low. (Inaudible),

the British classic, (inaudible) for his country and very popular in Russia has a series of stories about Sherlock Holmes and he has helpless character

in those stories.

Inspector (inaudible) from Scotland Yard, he doesn't have the method of deduction. He's not particularly smart. His role is to be the background

for the extraordinary detective powers of Sherlock Holmes.

The strived latches on something that is on the surface of a crime and he's in a hurry to provide conclusions only to be overturned by Sherlock Holmes

who always finds what is behind the crime and what is the motive for it.

[16:20:07] Of course, I am not trying to say that those who work in Scotland Yard today are not professional guard me from that, but I do think

that we could all stand to benefit from having a Sherlock Holmes with us today, but the collective inspector of Inspector Lastrade (ph) are the

high-level members of the U.K. government, who are coming up with egregious, superficial and unsupported accusations, which have far-reaching


Russia calls upon the officials of the U.K. to give up on the imperial practices which belong in the 19th Century, give up on ultimatums and

threats and unsupported accusations give up with their colonial habits and get back to the -- to the area which is governed by law.

In such situations, similar to what we have in the letter by Theresa May, normally what should be done is using instruments of legal assistance. Now

to sum up, we have to say once again, Russia had nothing to do with this incident.

The ultimatum from London is something that we consider to be something that we cannot pay attention to, and we expect -- we consider null and

void. We expect that the United Kingdom will act in strict adherence with the Convention of Chemical Weapons and other international instruments

including the European conventional legal assistance on criminal matters and will provide the samples of the substances that the U.K. investigation

is referring to for joint investigations since you are saying that they are Russian in origin.

And this is not an optional, this is a mandatory requirement under the convention. We stand ready for such an investigation. We have nothing to

fear. We have nothing to hide. The mechanism for the 9.2 on the convention of chemical weapons is something that we've already mentioned.

If the explanations provided are insufficient, well, then we can turn to the governing body of the OPCW. This is the only civilized way of settling

the issue. Since we are being accused of violating the convention without y justification, well, there is no other way out, and fruitless dialogue

with specialists from other -- from something that we cannot avoid.

We are ready for an open and constructive cooperation within the framework of the OPCW. In conclusion, Mr. President, we would like to disseminate a

draft statement for the press which sums up my statement and emphasizes the fact that the mechanisms in Chapter 9 of the chemical weapons conventions

are mentioned and we hope and expect that all members of the council will support this. Thank you.

GORANI: Vasily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations calling the British position completely irresponsible and also calling the

statements irresponsible and unjustifiable that these are threats that are directed against a sovereign state, Russia.

The U.K., the ambassador saying must abide by its obligations under international agreements and share its findings with Russian experts, share

a sample of the nerve agent they say was used to target Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.

One of the most interesting aspects of his address to the U.N. Security Council by the Russian ambassador, the most probable source of this nerve

agent, he said, are countries who have been conducting this type of research including the United Kingdom asking the question who would benefit

the most from targeting Sergei Skripal and blaming Russia for it?

We can get U.K. reaction now. I am joined by Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and he joins me here in the studio. Thanks

for being with us. You heard the Russian ambassador there, your reaction?

VINCE CABLE, BRITISH LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC LEADER: That is what the Americans call fake news. What was very striking about the debate in parliament

today is that although in many ways, British politics is very divisive. There are very strong divisions between my party and the government.

Most of the labor back benchers of the government and the nationalists from Scotland, we have all agreed that the government was taking the correct

action. Sherlock Holmes has been invoked and you have a weapon with overwhelmingly likely to have come from the Russian government.

You have a motive, this was a defector and we know from past experience that this is how the Russian government deals with defectors, and we have a

history. We have form. I mean, the British relations with Russia struggled because of the murder of Litvinenko some years ago, and there is

a strong parallel with this case.

GORANI: Do you think that the retaliation from the United Kingdom is enough though because we're talking about the expulsion of 23 out of 60

diplomats in London? No real financial repercussions and certainly no targeted sanctions against individuals.

CABLE: Well, I would toughen (inaudible) exactly those areas.

GORANI: They are not doing it.

CABLE: Well, I suspect this may well happen. One of the things I pointed out in parliament today is that the government does have powers,

unexplained wealth orders where, you know, Russians and others have large amounts of wealth in this country that they can't properly account for.

That they could be seized -- obviously according to legal processes and I was what I quoted in parliament was one of the leading opposition anti-

corruption campaign is in Russia (inaudible) is not allowed to stand in the presidential election.

GORANI: Alexei Navalny.

CABLE: Indeed, and he argued that this is exactly what the British government should be doing.

GORANI: There's been reluctance from European countries and the U.K. as well. There is a lot of Russian money here in the U.K. property market and

the U.K. economy. Countries like Germany (inaudible) up to 40 percent on Russian gas for their energy needs. There's a lot of -- it's difficult to

take a position that would essentially hurt the economy of the country imposing those.

CABLE: Well, I think they're different issues, and of course, this is a situation that's evolved. I mean, I was in the British government and I

was in the cabinet until two and a half years ago and one of my jobs was promoting and expanding trade with Russia. I was an enthusiastic

participant. I thought it was very important to have a good relation with Russia.

That stopped with the involvement in the Ukraine and Crimea, and then we involved ourselves in economic sanctions jointly with the rest of Europe.

So, there was already an acceptance that European economies would have to take a more distant relationship with Russia and accept some degree of


GORANI: I'm talking about less transparent money, obviously, and the unexplained wealth orders could be put to use, but they haven't been. I

mean, even though they've gone into effect only at the end of the month of January.

Well, I think my belief is that we have probably been a little bit naive in accepting too much money and not asking questions to British view as it was

being, if we could attract investments into the property market, that's fine and it's a sign of confidence, but actually, it probably isn't in the

British national interest to attract money which of questionable origin, and I believe the government should be a lot tougher than it has been.

GORANI: Will they be tougher, though?

CABLE: I think they will be and this point was being made by me and indeed by significant conservatives too urging the government to do more in this

front, and I think they will.

GORANI: This attack was different than the other attacks. How? Why was the reaction different this time where you had the largest expulsion of

diplomats in 30 years and really this is a story that for the last almost two weeks now has been headline news in this country? There's been a lot

of outrage.

CABLE: There has been lots of outrage. I think it's probably that when we had the previous episodes, the Litvinenko murder, the reaction was very

delayed and very slow and I think in retrospect feeling that the British government hasn't been tough enough at the time.


CABLE: And there's a very strong feeling this time that the government should be absolutely decisive and clear and it's not just the British

government acting in isolation. We've got very strong support from France, Germany and the United States.

GORANI: But in what way, actually that was -- going to be my next and final question. It seems like you have the standard format responses from

France and Germany, but they're reluctant to point fingers at Russia at this stage.

CABLE: Well, these --

GORANI: And the way Theresa May has --

CABLE: We have police with the support that we've garnered internationally and I think the key point I would come back to is one I started with.

There is a remarkable degree of cross-party support within the U.K. This is not a division between the government and the rest of us.

GORANI: We'll see how this develops and whether there are more measures taken against Russia. Vince Cable, thanks so much for joining us. We

really appreciate your time on CNN.

Still to come tonight, she is a socialite and former TV host and she wants to be Russia's next president. We'll talk to the woman who wants to unseat

Vladimir Putin. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Let's return to our top story. As the UK takes action against Russia, the British prime minister, Theresa May delivered a defiant speech

to parliament today. She announced a series of measures to punish Russia including expelling 23 diplomats from the country. This is of course, over

the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in the British city of Salisbury. Russia's United Nations ambassador at the U.N. Security

Council just minutes ago denounced the U.K. accusations. He said, quote, "We have nothing to fear. We have nothing to hide. He said that the U.K.

were essentially putting forward and putting forth completely irresponsible statements.

In Russia, voters go to the polls to elect their next president. Going up against Vladimir Putin is this woman on the billboard behind me, her name

is Ksenia Sobchak. You may not know her name. Let me fill you in. Ms. Sobchak has been dubbed Russia's Paris Hilton. She's also been a

television host. She is the daughter of Mr. Putin's political mentor and has been rumored to be the president's goddaughter. That is something she

denies, but something I'll ask per again. One major difference with the Kremlin right now, she calls the Russian annexation of Crimea illegal.

Let's speak to the candidate herself, Ksenia Sobchak joins me now live from Moscow. Thanks for being with us.

First, I want to get your thoughts on what the United Kingdom is doing here in response to what they say is a Russian attack with chemical weapons,

nerve agent on its soil against a former Russian spy. What do you make of what's going there?

KSENIA SOBCHAK, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will certainly answer your question, but first, let's want begin our CNN interview with a series

of lies. First of all, I'm not Russia's Paris Hilton. It's only, you know, some very bad quality magazines are doing this and don't broad. I am

a political journalist for more than six years. I have been working on the only independent Russian channel called, TV Rain and did a number of

exclusive reportages including some report of Alexei Navalny. So I'm a political journalist for many, many years and my career as an entertainment

staff finished more than 10 years ago.

Secondly, I'm not -- my godfather is not Putin. It's a lie and I've told number of times it's a lie which was specially made by journalists to

somehow connect me with Mr. Putin. Mr. Putin has nothing to do with me. I challenge him on those elections --

GORANI: That came -- But I was going to say Ksenia Sobchak -- that rumor, but if I can just tell you, that rumor came because your father, your late

father is reported as being the political mentor of the current president, Vladimir Putin. Is that factually correct or not?

[16:35:20] SOBCHAK: Yes, my father worked with Vladimir Putin when I was eight years old. I was a little girl then, but it has nothing to do with

Putin being my godfather or anyone to me.

GORANI: I get that, but I'm just telling you where that came from.

SOBCHAK: I do not have any connections with him.

GORANI: Got it. Well, I'm glad you cleared that up.

SOBCHAK: Exactly. So let us -- let us go on. Let us go.

GORANI: Let us go on. Precisely. Let's talk then politics and let's talk foreign policy and specifically what Theresa May announced in parliament

today and the expulsion.

SOBCHAK: What about London?

GORANI: Yes, that' what I'm asking.

SOBCHAK: I think that --

GORANI: What do you make of the UK response to this?

SOBCHAK: What Theresa May has announced --

GORANI: Yes, go ahead.

SOBCHAK: Yes, we have some kind of misconnection. What Theresa May has said and declared is of course, a very tough decision and as I've already

said before, I think that European Union, UK, USA should punish people who work in government and who are responsible for the wars that Russia holds

around the world. But people should not be punished. Why student want to go abroad and study in UK should be punished with their visas? They did

nothing bad to UK. They never worked in Putin's government, so I think this decision is quite tough. And also, I think it's a political decision,

first of all, because we all remember that a number of years the same kind of story happened with Litvinenko, another KGB person who was poisoned in

London, but then nothing happened.

So my question to Theresa May, why? Why it's kind of double standards? Why when Litvinenko was poisoned no ultimatum to Russia was done. But now

when the political situation has changed, now this case is, you know, is directed in a totally different manner, very tough manner for simple

Russian people who just want to travel

GORANI: I'm unclear how this is directed at students. She's throwing out diplomats, potentially down the line there could be targeted sanctions

against individuals. They're not sending royalty or government officials to the World Cup. How do you see that as directed at ordinary Russians in

this case?

SOBCHAK: But as you remember she also mentioned that this can apply to getting visas for Russians, all of the Russians, that the receivers of visa

will be more difficult now for Russian people in general, and I'm speaking about this, so I think this is not a very correct kind of thing because we

people have much things in common.

GORANI: But you agree if the UK believes this nerve agent originated from Russia, that they have a right to take measures such as the ones Theresa

May announced today in parliament?

SOBCHAK: Well, I can't take decisions for UK government or for Theresa May. I do not know. I know that unfortunately, we are now in a very

tough, a very critical situation, and I also know it's a fact that when the same situation happened to another KGB agent, Litvinenko who was poisoned

in London and this poisoning was also blamed on Russia but nothing happened. No one was sent out of the diplomats, no ultimatum was put on so

why double standards in Great Britain? So this is my only question for Theresa May.

GORANI: OK. Well, perhaps UK authorities felt that this was just in this particular instance unacceptable and also an act that could be harmful to

hundreds and hundreds of people around the person targeted.

But I want to move to the election itself. Alexei Navalny, probably the most prominent Kremlin critic was barred from running in the election, you

are running against Vladimir Putin in the presidential election this weekend.

Do you think it's a fully as free and fair an election as it can be in Russia?

[16:40:50] SOBCHAK: Well, of course, it's not a fair elections and they said it hundreds of times. And I understand that the barring of Alexei

Navalny from those elections is a very bad act, I'm against it, and I always was. But we still have to fight for democracy.

For me, taking part in those elections is a possibility to speak to people who have never heard the real truth from federal channels. By law, a

candidate has a special time when he can speak on federal channels so millions of people in Russia, first time in their life will hear real truth

about Putin, about Sechin, about his ministers, about corruption in Russia. This is what I'm telling every time when I have this opportunity and this

is very important because these truths can change their minds and this propaganda that they hear every day will not work any longer if they hear

what I'm saying.

GORANI: So when you say propaganda, what is your biggest criticism of Vladimir Putin?

SOBCHAK: My biggest criticism is that the system that he created in Russia is a system of corruption and nepotism where only people who are connected

with him have all the money, all the economical values in Russia and that creates a huge difference in life between very poor people and people who

have all the power. I'm against it, and I'm also against what's happening now in the media. We have no freedom of speech, we have no freedom of

saying what we really think of. Alexei Navalny has not to the elections. People who go for me and want to vote for me, they get arrested in

different cities of the country. It's unfair.

Eight people who were working with me were arrested yesterday because they don't want all of us to go for those elections and vote and say that we're

against the system, and this is what's happening every day in my country.

GORANI: Ksenia Sobchak, thank you so much for joining us live from Moscow. We appreciate your time on CNN this evening.

Let's move on to our next big story and that is, of course, the legendary physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. The professor was

known for making complex theories easier for the public to understand sometimes for bringing physics and philosophy together.


STEPHEN HAWKING, THEORETICAL PHYSICIST: I see a great day just for the human race. There have been a number of times in the past when a rival has

been a question of touch and go. The frequency of such occasion is likely to increase in the future. We shall need great care and judgment and

negotiate them all successfully, but I'm an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe as we

spread into space.


GORANI: Among his many accomplishments, Hawking worked for years with Sir Roger Penrose, merging Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum theory

that suggest that space in time would begin with the big bang and end in black holes. In 1988, they won the Wolf Prize for physics for their

contribution to our understanding of the universe and I'm pleased to say Sir Roger Penrose joins me now in the studio for much more on his colleague

and friend. Thank you, sir, for being with us.


GORANI: Your thoughts just on this day on the day that we learned of the passing of Stephen Hawking.

PENROSE: well, it's very sad, of course.


PENROSE: He had been ill for a while and so -- I mean, he was ill, of course, with this very awful condition which he's had. But I've known him

since 1965, and we collaborated at that time, things to do with the singularities that his -- this is where your equations go wild and things

become infinite, densities become infinite and the first situation was the black hole where you have matter, too much matter and it collapses in on

itself, and I was able to show that even if it was completely irregular, you would still get these infinite situations.

GORANI: So there was -- it wasn't fully black. There was some --

PENROSE: That's later.

GORANI: Right. That was later. But just on a human level, I wonder, what was he like because you wrote and I have here highlighted some parts of the

obituary that the "Guardian" newspaper published. He could be generous and was very often witty, we all knew that.


GORANI: On occasion, he could display something of the arrogance that is not uncommon among physicists working at the cutting edge and he had an

autocratic streak. He could also show a true humility that is the mark of greatness. To me, that sounds like a perfect individual, actually. You

can't be one or the other all of the time.

PENROSE: That's true. Well, sometimes people a little bit too much.

GORANI: Right. That is correct. What was he like?

[16:45:13] PENROSE: No. He was -- I found him very easy to work with. When I first met him, I didn't even notice anything wrong with him. He was

just like an ordinary person. Except --

GORANI: He was in mid-60s then. Yes.

PENROSE: A very bright one who understood things quickly. If you give a lecture, and he was in the audience, he would always ask very awkward

questions that would make you think of things you hadn't thought of. So it was -- it was very striking in that way. Maybe a sense of humor. When

things developed and so he couldn't talk very well. First of all, it was just with his own voice and it was hard to hear what he meant because it

was slurred in ways and people with him could understand what he said, but people from the outside often found it extremely difficult to know what he

was talking about.

It was quite strange because I remember having conversations with him, quite technical ones about mathematics and physics and we didn't have any

trouble and then when he said something that, what? I couldn't understand what it was. And it could be either a joke or an invitation to dinner. So

these things are ordinary things.

GORANI: But the complex, scientific conversations --

PENROSE: And the kinds of things people would say and communication was much easier, I found, when it was on technical matters.

GORANI: Why do you think he became so iconic? I mean, is part of it the fact that he is so -- he was so resilient when his body was really giving

up on him?

PENROSE: Oh, I think he was one of the -- I think perhaps the most determined person I ever met. I'm not sure. It was an occasion when they

lived in this little house in Cambridge and it was sort of straight-up done, and we were having dinner and I was staying the night there, but when

it became time for Stephen to go to bed, he would crawl up the stairs and it would take him about 15 minutes and he refused to have anybody assist

him in any way, and he just did everything himself and he put himself to bed. And I think that sort of quality of absolute determination and Jen

was very good in not interfering with him.

GORANI: His wife at the time.

PENROSE: And that was something which drove him and probably, I suspect, made that his muscles didn't atrophy at quite the way they otherwise would.

I don't know.

GORANI: But last thing, I want to ask you, when we write the history of this period in scientific research, how will Stephen Hawking be remembered?

And you participated so much in that fantastic research.

PENROSE: Well, I think he's mainly known for is this Hawking radiation, Hawking evaporation because previously it was black holes would suck

everything in and nothing would come out, but he looked at this from the framework of quantum mechanics, quantum field theory and he gave a talk and

we used to have these little informal seminars in Oxford and he gave a talk to us just before this when he was trying to show that if black holes and

rotation that that might decay away and he had these calculations to show that. That's what he is.

And then it was shortly afterwards he realized it didn't have to be a rotation. It was a takeaway anyway and this was the striking thing that

nobody was expecting.

GORANI: So his determination and of course, his scientific genius and we're so, so happy to have you with us this evening, Sir Roger Penrose.

You knew him well, you collaborated on such incredible scientific research, so it's an honor to have you. Thank you, sir, so much.

Still to come this evening.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is you're able to say whatever you want and do whatever you want without anyone telling you no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is to marry and love whoever you want no matter their gender, race, et cetera.


GORANI: Students are submitting messages to CNN for My Freedom Day. And see their extraordinary work. We'll be right back.


[16:50:49] GORANI: Today, students all over the world are partnering with CNN to mark My Freedom Day. It is a student-driven event to raise

awareness about to more than 40 million people living in slavery. It's a staggering figure. University students in Rome released thousands of

balloons with the My Freedom Day logo carrying he message across the eternal city. In Hong Kong, students wrote down what freedom means to them

on note cards in their classrooms and to bring back our girls campaign remains front and center in Nigeria as young people gathered near murals

created for the missing Chibok girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in 2014.

Our correspondents are at some of these events at schools across the globe. Isha Sesay at the Los Angeles high school where students are holding an

assembly. Rafael Romo is at a university in Mexico City where students are standing up against human trafficking.

Let's start with Isha, over to you.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hi there, Hala. Yes, we are at the special assembly at South Gate High School in South L.A. The assembly is

happening right now and they've got one of their guest speakers on stage and this has been a tremendous couple of hours, about 800 students have

been in this auditorium listening to guest speakers, testimonials, a special performance by the band, all to shine a light on modern-day

trafficking and human slavery.

I want to bring in one of the student here at the school. Her name is Nina Luna. She's a senior and she's a passionate voice in this fight against

modern-day trafficking. Nina, thank you for speaking to CNN.


SESAY: You are featured in the special assembly. Tell us how and why you became so engaged with this issue.

LUNA: Well, my teacher, Miss Shaw (ph), I feel that she was really passionate about human trafficking and I wasn't aware that it was happening

in our country and the U.S. I thought it was only a third-world country type of thing, and it made me want to get involved because it's happening

around us, and I think it's important that everyone gets involved.

SESAY: And tell me what days like this, my freedom day, and days where students get involved and getting involved in this fight. What do they

mean? Why is it important to have young people in this fight?

LUNA: Well, they're the future and it's important that we get involved and that they inspire others because they can have assemblies like these and

it's just going to build a better community and just to build freedom upon everyone because we all deserve it.

SESAY: What does freedom mean to you?

LUNA: Freedom is being able to pursue my desires and my life without anyone pushing or captivating me and just allowing me to do my own thing.

SESAY: Nina, thank you.

LUNA: Thank you.

SESAY: Thank you so much. So, Hala, this has been a very special day here. This assembly isn't just about the awareness, it's also about

empowering the young here to show that they themselves don't full the traffickers is out there. It's a really special day and this is amazing

school, full of young activists. The next generation. Hala.

GORANI: All right. Isha Sesay, thanks very much. Rafael Romo is in Mexico City. What's going on where you are, Rafael?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Hey, Hala. It's just amazing to see these students how creative and how committed they are.

Take a look at some of the signs that they've put together. It says end modern-day slavery and they've also come up with signs in three different

languages, not only in Spanish, but also in French and English and they showed up very early to be a part of this because they wanted to say no to

human trafficking today.

Now, this is something that they do on a constant basis, not only today and part of their activities is a very interesting one. They have collected

school supplies, and clothes and they're going to go to different places across Mexico City and they're going to donate these clothes. Now, what's

very interesting about them is that they came up with a tag that they're going to attach to the clothes so that people in these areas have an 800

number which is a helpline line so that they can call in case they identify or they spot a case, a potential case of human trafficking.

And with me is Fernanda Sanchez. She is part of this amazing group of young students here at the Ibero American University. Tell us about the

idea to do this for people donate the clothes but at the same time, give them the phone number to find help.

[16:55:07] FERNANDA SANCHEZ, ORGANIZER: Well, this idea started off because we know that there's a high demand of needing these clothes and

these school supplies so we decided that what better way to give them this amazing tool that is this help line than to put it on their clothes so they

have it with them at all times and these clothes are going to go, especially, to very vulnerable areas and this way the kids can just look at

the clothes if they need any help and they can report any situation that they might have.

ROMO: You were telling me that this is not the only thing you do. Around the year you go to schools and you talk to students and parents and

teachers. What's the message that you bring to those people when you go there?

SANCHEZ: The message that we bring would be what is human trafficking because I think that many people do not know what it is and it's very

important to define it, to understand it and that way we can give them tools to protect themselves against human trafficking.

ROMO: Thank you very much, Fernanda Sanchez. And Hala, just to give you an idea, these are some of the students that we've seen, but every hour

today, we've had a different group of students who are, like I said before, very committed, very creative, and also just trying to push this cause at

the same time. Hala, back to you.

GORANI: All right. Rafael Romo in Mexico City. And we had, of course, our Isha Sesay at a high school in Los Angeles and there are many other

events in other institutions around the world right here in London and parts of Asia, as well. So I hope you can catch that and also you can get

the latest on My Freedom Day online on And don't forget, you can also check out our top news story and that is the UK's retaliation against

Russia for what it says was a most likely a Russian attack using a nerve agent against an ex-Russian spy and his daughter. We will have all that

and more.

And after a quick, break it will be my colleague Richard Quest right here in London with "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS." Stay with us.