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Putin Seeks Re-Election After 18 Years At The Helm; UK PM: Britain Considering Next Moves Toward Moscow; Turkey Says It Has Captured Town In Northern Syria; Abu Dhabi To Host Special Olympics World Games In 2019; Campaign To Create World's Largest Ocean Sanctuary. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired March 18, 2018 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A host of candidate, 100 million voter countless campaign stops, it looks like any election

should. But there's a difference. Who will win Russia's vote seems to be pretty much set before it even began. So we take you inside of voting

station in Moscow, next. Plus, a flag and a chant of victory in Turkish all happening inside Syria. We explore that game changer. Then --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you look over there, there trying to jump on the ice, it's hilarious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they're really cute. That's true.

ANDERSON: Cute and vital, this place as important to planet as it is beautiful, CNN takes you to the Antarctic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Hello and welcome. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you in Abu Dhabi. It's just past 7:00 p.m. in the

evening here, a jammed packed hour ahead starting up with a monster of an election. More than 100 million voters casting ballots across 11 time

zones in by sheer size, the largest country in t world, one where democracy is very new import, just 25 years old and one yet to take route according

to critics. I'm talking Russia of coursed, rarely far from the headlines these days. There are eight candidates buying for the top spot, but

President Vladimir Putin is in the leading contender. He's expected to easily win re-election after 18 years in power in various guises but will

face new challenges as economic sanctions bite and relations with the west get to new all-time low. I want to get you the latest on all of this.

CNN's Matthew Chance is watching the votes flood in out of busy polling station in the capital of Moscow. Melissa Bell is in London for you with a

reminder that this vote is not happening in a vacuum. More on that Melissa in a moment. First, to you Matthew, what is the story where you are?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've been at this voting station, Becky in central Moscow throughout the curse of the day

this election day here in Russia and I have to say the crowd have been that a little bit now but it's been very, very brisk throughout the whole day.

There have been at some point, you know, the whole room is full of people waiting out to cast their ballots in this presidential election as you

mention where there are eight candidates standing for the position but only one really, you can see the board over here, only one who's a real

contender and he's right there. They've arranged them in alphabetical order but Vladimir Putin is right there in the middle. There's some

interesting information on this by the way. It says it got 13 bank accounts with $240,000, three Russian cars and an apartment in Saint

Petersburg with a garage.

Now, I mention the turnout because it's really crucial. Because there's no real Democratic challenger that's been allowed to stand in this election,

Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin is looking very hard at the turnout. They've been encouraging Russians to come out. The President came out

himself a couple of days ago appealing to Russians to go to the ballots and to make their voices heard. And we're going to be looking at the final

turnout figures when this election is over, and voting stops in Russia in about three hours from now, but the sense we're getting here that you know,

the turnout has been quite significant. So it seems the Kremlin has overcome this idea of apathy in the country. That's important because it

wanted a sense of legitimacy.

ANDERSON: If we wanted a sort of baseline turnout, I know in the last presidential election was just over 65 percent so we'll wait, Matthew, to

see what turnout is as you rightly suggest in about three hours' time when voting closes. Mr. Putin's career reaches right back into the dark days of

the cold war of course when he work for the KGB now as our viewers can see, has rocketed from lowly agent to the very top of his county's politics that

now as either president or prime minister for almost 20 years. If wins this, will he essentially be Putin the czar, Matthew?

CHANCE: I think he will. I mean, and I think he's certainly going to win this. I mean, you're right, Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia as either

president or prime minister for the last 18 years and he is poised to start yet another six-year term which means it's a whole generation first of all

of people that have been born in Russia who have known nothing but his rule. And you know, it's not clear at this point what Vladimir Putin is

going to try to do with this next six year term once it has been confirmed.

Certainly, he has brought the country over recent years into a very deep confrontation with the west, over most recently the alleged nerve agent

poisoning, or the nerve agent poisoning allegedly by Russia in Salisbury in England, but also of a countless other issues like the conflict in Syria,

the conflict in Ukraine, the downing of MH-17, etcetera, etcetera, U.S. election meddling. That does not seem to have dented his immense

popularity. In fact, you get the sense speaking through Russians, they like the idea that he is seen or shows himself to be a strong leader. You

can -- in their mind, a supposed stand up to the west. And Putin self- revels in that image. And I think that's at the root of its genuine popularity in this country.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance at a polling station in Moscow, Matthew, I appreciate it. More at the bottom of the hour from Moscow for you. I want

to bring in Melissa Bell in London right now. At the heart of what is, Melissa, a stunning diplomatic round that has echoes of the chilliest days

of the cold war. What is the latest where you are?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest, Becky, is that really this is something that you're going to expect to rumble on over the

course of the next few days. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister has made it clear that she intends to retaliate to those retaliatory diplomatic

measures from Moscow. So this is in a sense the very beginning of a much broader cold war, and one that Theresa May wild be joined by her allies

much more openly in a much more forthright way that has been the case so far. Boris Johnson is due in Brussels tomorrow where he'll be trying to

rally support not just for an E.U. block wide condemnation of Russia, the first in two weeks by the way, but also perhaps more of boycott of the

football world cup in Russia might be considered as well. The truth is thought, there is very less little appetite Europe wide for any more

sanctions against Russia.

And Britain has really exposed more than anything else its isolation over the course of the last couple of weeks. Boris Johnson however once again

this morning on British television, repeated what has been the British claim over the course of the last couple of weeks that Russia is to blame

for this and that Vladimir Putin himself can see the blame for this laid squarely at his feet. The other thing that the British are going to be

doing, of course trying to prove their case their allies and the rest of the world as they seek backing for their position on this. And so, the

representative, the investigators from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons will be arriving in the United Kingdom tomorrow to

examine those samples that have been collected by British authorities. Here's what the British Foreign Secretary had to say this morning, Becky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We actually have evidence within the last ten years that Russia has not only been investigating in the

delivery of nerve agents for the purposes of assassination but also been creating and stock piling Novichok.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: That is the thesis that will be -- the British will be seeking to prove over the coming days and it seeks to rally more open outright

forthright international support for its position. Becky?

ANDERSON: Very briefly, is that isolation that Britain is feeling from the E.U. amplified by Brexit negotiations and just how much worst might

relations get and who stands to suffer?

BELL: I think a great deals. The truth is that's taken two weeks to -- for eve the British to hope to get even a common declaration. I mean, in a

sense that is the best that Boris Johnson can hope to receive tomorrow when he attends that meeting of foreign ministers chaired about Federica

Mogherini, a common E.U.-wide declaration of condemnation of Russia in support of the British position. And it will Becky, even if he gets that,

have taken two weeks to get it. So of course, this has exposed Britain's isolation in terms of Brexit. Of course, it's exposed its isolation on the

world stage. Theresa May has made it clear over the course of the weekend that she intends to shore up support for her position and indeed Boris

Johnson was writing the British press this morning saying look, perhaps the most fundamental difference between Russia's position and our own is that

we have friends and we have allies and that wild tested tomorrow in Brussels, Becky.

ANDERON: Melissa Bell is in London, Matthew in Moscow for you. Russia, as we know, has emerged --thank you, Melissa -- as a key player in Syrian

war. Now Turkey coming into play claiming a big win in Syria. This is by no means Turkey's involvement but this is the Turkish flag raised in the

center of Afrin. Turkey says its forces along with Syrian rebel allies capture the town two days after a nearly two month's offensive. Now, Afrin

is close to the Turkish-Syrian border, and Ankara has been worried about the presence of the Turkish group, the YPG which Turkey considers

terrorists. CNN's Ben Wedeman is watching this unfold from Lebanon, spent many day, week, month in Syria over the years. He joins us now live. Just

how significant -- well, explain to us what is going on in Afrin and just explain its significance if you will?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is -- it's been two months now since the Turkish army with its Syrian Arab allies have

been engaged in this offensive. Ironically called Operation Olive Branch to gain control of the area of Afrin, which is along the border with

Turkey. It'seen under the control of the YPG, the Kurdish people's defense unit which Turkey says is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, the

PKK which has been fighting a separatist war against the Turkish state since 1984.

Now, the Turks have been increasingly concerned about the growing power of the Kurds along its 500-mile border with Syria. The YPG, of course, is an

ally of the United States and the west in its war against ISIS. But we've seen over the last two months is this offensive by the Turks trying to

crush the power of the YPG in the Afrin area. But what has happened is yes, as you said, it's a big win for Turkey, but it's come at a very high

price for the Kurds of Afrin as you will see in this report that we've done but we need to warn you that some of the images for viewers may be

disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: Afrin's main hospital was a busy place until, that is, doctor, say Turkish jets struck it Friday, killing nine. Turkish officials deny

the hospital was hit. CNN has obtained exclusive footage shot last week in the Kurdish-Syrian town of Afrin. Early Sunday, Turkish forces and their

rebel allies took control of most of the town. Relatives try to comfort (INAUDIBLE), her three-month-old son (INAUDIBLE) was killed in an air

strike.

I lost my little child, she cried. Where are you, my son? The death of (INAUDIBLE) may be just another statistic in the slaughterhouse that is

Syria, not to his mother.

(INAUDIBLE) can't take the jets and bombs anymore. (INAUDIBLE) wounds are inside her head. Doctor Muhammad (INAUDIBLE) is Afrin's last psychiatrist.

He says the rest fled. He can only give his patients half doses supplies of medicines are getting low.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is psychotic episodes and depression and anxiety and something suicidal to get rid of this war. Some people tried to

suicide to injure themselves and kill themselves --

WEDEMAN: Further to the east the Kurds were key American and western allies in the fight against ISIS in Syria, but here alone their hour of

need, they are at the mercy of the Turks and their Syrian rebel fighters.

Trump, Macron, you're vampires who incited Erdogan to attack us, this man says.

Bombs and rockets don't discriminate between soldier and civilian. Everyone is in the line of fire. Enduring the pain of war, tormented by the agony

of those they love.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: It appears that the YPG fighters have withdrawn from most of Afrin, although there is still some fighting going on in the city. Kurdish

officials are saying, however, that the war is not over, that they're going to now launch a Guerrilla war against what they say is the Turkish

occupation if Afrin. Others Kurdish official is saying that the war against ISIS is on the back burners they focus on the Turks.

ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman reporting out of Beirut in Lebanon for you today. Ben, thanks. To another region of Syria that has been the heart of

fighting recently, the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has just tweeted out these pictures. He is visiting Syrian forces in the Eastern Ghouta

section which is just outside Damascus. The Syrian army has been on an offensive to recapture the area from the rebels. It's surrounded

(INAUDIBLE) but causing shortages of food and other supplies. Still, to come tonight, you know those personality quizzes that pop up on Facebook,

well they are kind of silly perhaps but it turns out, one firm might have used them to help sway who is in the White House right now. The full story

just ahead, plus we are going to talk with the head of the Special Olympics which are underway now in the region, a very special interview for you

later this hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: All right, you're back with us. It's nearly 20 past the 7:00 in the UAE, this is where we broadcast from, our Middle Eastern hub in Abu

Dhabi. It is late Sunday morning in Washington where headlines are flying and U.S. President Donald Trump, well, he is in spotlight once again.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has interviewed the fired FBI director or Deputy Director -- sorry -- Andrew McCabe. The Probe

investigating Russian interference for the 2016 election also has memos written by McCabe documenting his conversations with President Trump.

Plus, Facebook says is suspending a data firm with ties to the Trump Campaign for allegedly using personal information without user's permission

in order to target voters. And on the offensive, attorneys for Mr. Trump have filed a move to move a lawsuit against porn star Stormy Daniels to

federal court. They claim she could owe $20 million for violating a nondisclosure agreement. We have all of this covered for you.

The U.S. President once again claiming the Russia investigation then which has already resulted in guilty pleas, indictments, and new sanctions is a

witch hunt, tweeting this morning "Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big crooked Hillary supporters and zero

Republicans? Does anyone think this is fair? And yet there is no collusion!" With exclamation mark, the U.S. President likes in his tweets.

As for fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Mr. Trump says, he spent very little time with him and he never took notes in his presence.

Well, the sharp attacks have many asking is Mueller next to get axe. That's something my colleague Jake Tapper asked the Republican Senator and

Trump Administration critic Senator Jeff Flake. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you think that the President is laying the groundwork to fire Mueller?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, the President said there was a great day for democracy yesterday. I think it was a horrible day for democracy.

To have firings like this happening at the top from the President and the Attorney General, does not speak well for what's going on. so I don't know

what designs are on Mueller but it seems to be building toward that and I just hope it doesn't go there because it can't. We can't in Congress

accept that. And so, I would expect to see considerable pushback in the next couple of days and urging the President not to go there. He can't go

there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That's Jake Tapper speaking to Jeff Flake, story one. Now to the next big story involving the Trump campaign and this time social media

as well. It concerns some Facebook personality quizzes as they're known. But it looks like results don't just disappear when he test is over.

Facebook says it is suspending a data firm with ties to the Trump campaign for allegedly using information from the quizzes without the user's

permission in order to target voters. That firm Cambridge Analytica denies violating Facebook terms. Carole Cadwalladr has been investigating

Cambridge Analytica and its link to the Trump team in the U.S. Presidential Election, plus its ties to the Brexit leave campaign and she has spoken

directly to a whistleblower and the man who made the Facebook data mining tool. She is the Lead Reporter for the Guardian on this story and she

joins me now from London. Carole, thanks for being with us. You've been working on this story for more than a year. Help us break this down for our

viewers? What are you reporting on him? What actually happened so far as you are concerned?

CAROLE CADWALLADR, JOURNALIST, THE GUARDIAN: What happened is that Cambridge Analytica, this data analytics firm which worked on Trump's

campaign and is also being investigated for its role in the British European Union referendum. And it was with a psychologist at Cambridge

University who is commissioned to collect people's Facebook data. And what this Christopher Wylie who's come forward, this whistleblower, he has told

us and he also has the receipts and invoices, the contract that they actually collected more than 50 million U.S. voters Facebook profiles.

That's everything. All person mentioned and this was then used to profile people and then to target them.

ANDERSON: So the heart of this story concerns data specifically data of millions of Facebook users. Now, Facebook says there was not a data

breach. It's people either gave consent by using the initial app or had set their security preferences in such a way where the information was

obtained legally. Why do you then insist labeling this a data breach? Let's just clear this one out.

CADWALLADR: So Facebook absolutely knew that this has happened in December of 2015 when the Guardian first reported it and they wrote a letter eight

months later to this guy Chris Wylie and they said we know this is unauthorized and we know this data has been taken. If you still have it,

please delete it. And that's literally all they did. They asked him to tick a box and that was it. So they knew the data had been taken, they

knew that millions of people's security and privacy have been compromised and they did absolutely nothing about it and they refused to acknowledge

this, to journalist and to investigators and to MPs and to congressional investigators and for another two years from then. So the thing which is

just I find so hypocritical and I find such a failing in Facebook is how it has just tried to avoid this issue. It hasn't acknowledged it.

It's avoided these questions from journalist and it's only that it was put on the spot this week when we went to ask questions on Monday and we put

them to these questions and we said we had evidence, and then instead then of coming out and making these statement, what they did is they threatened

on Friday to take legal action against the Guardian if we went ahead and published and when we -- you know, we decided absolutely we were going to

publish and we had a long meeting and absolutely the definition of what is a data breach, which is data being taken without user's consent, this is

it. And they just -- they sort of struggled with semantics at the moment when they should be standing up and taking responsibility and owning up to

this.

ANDERSON: Sure. And there is one M.P. as part of the investigation in the Commons who is saying that Mark Zuckerberg himself should now appear in

front of this investigating body. Let's leave Facebook aside for one moment because we're working on two sort of issues here. There's Facebook

and there's Cambridge Analytica. Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower, he used to work at Cambridge Analytica says that the firm was able to and I

quote, manipulate voters. Is there any proof, Carole, that manipulation took place or was this simply a political persuasion operation 2018 style?

CADWALLADR: Well, the difference here is that the firm Cambridge Analytica, it has a military background. So this is not persuasion as we

think of it as in, oh, this is a nice kind of shampoo, maybe you'd like it. It makes your hair very glossy. This was strategy and tools which had been

developed in the military in theaters of conflict. And this was now -- this isn't about persuading you with facts and with open information, it's

about gaining a population's compliance by denying them the full picture, by denying them information. And that's a very, very different idea. And

the idea that this is being played out in the world's biggest democracy, where voters are being denied sources of information, denied free debate, I

do find that incredibly worrying. And that's why I do think it' so amazing that he's come forward and go on the record.

ANDERSON: I mean, that was going to leave it. Carole Cadwalladr has been on this for more than a year I know, the lead reporter for the Guardian on

this story. I appreciate you spending some time on this and breaking it down for us, Carole, today. Now, let's get you to our third big story

related to the U.S. President Donald Trump his hour. His lawyers have gone on the offensive against Stormy Daniels, the porn star who signed a none

disclosure agreement after allegedly having an affair with Mr. Trump in 2006. Daniels filed suit to invalidate that agreement in a California

state court. But now Mr. Trump's lawyers are trying to move it up to federal court with a claim Daniels could owe up to $20 million for

violating the agreement. Keeping up, well, speaking to CNN's Ana Cabrera, Daniels lawyer said he will not be intimidated. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER OF STORMY DANIELS: We're not surprised at the effort to move it to Federal Court. Regarding whether it's in the State

Court or Federal Court, we're prepared to fully litigate it. I have the good fortune just April of last year of securing a $454 million jury

verdict in that federal courthouse, that very courthouse that they moved the case to. So we're very familiar with judges there, we're very familiar

with how smart they are and how deep the bench is if you will and we're prepared to litigate it whether it be in State Court or Federal Court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That's the story. Before we move on, we started this segment of the show with the Deputy FBI Director fired. Let's circle back to that.

Here's a bit from the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. A cast member portraying U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions trying to explain the

decision to fire that Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. I still got a job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, can you give us the exact reason McCabe is fired?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, yes all cause. Mr. McCabe was in clear violation because of his lack of candor. Well, I don't know, I can't even

dance around. Trump made me do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Saturday Night Live for you. Just ahead as regional Special Olympics kick off in Abu Dhabi, we may take a look at how they are raising

awareness a special need though the joy of sport. That is coming up after this. Do stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:33:52] ANDERSON: Check this out, this was the scene just yesterday. Huge celebrations in my own backyard as the UAE kicked off the Special

Olympics MENA Games right here in Abu Dhabi.

Incredible energy last night. Let's break down exactly what these Special Olympics are. Do not be confused of the Para-Olympics. This is the

world's largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities and has close to five million athletes represented in 172

countries. The men edition currently underway happening a year ahead of Abu Dhabi hosting the big 2019 World Summer Games next year. All of this,

of course, happening in a part of the world where awareness of disabilities can be quite low.

Well, for more on all of this, let's bring in, Timothy Shriver, who is chairman of the Special Olympics who joins me on set here in Abu Dhabi. He

is the son of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and the nephew of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Welcome to the UAE. Spectacular show you

putting off. This all leading up, of course, to the Special World Games here, next year. For those of our viewers, do unto where? Or the perhaps,

this is the first time they're hearing about the Special World Games. Just tell us all about it.

[11:35:13] TIMOTHY SHRIVER, CHAIRMAN, SPECIAL OLYMPICS: 172 countries will come here to Abu Dhabi. We'll have 7,000 athletes, that would be the

largest, and I think most inspiring event in the world in 2019. This is the front games. Our movement is -- as you pointed out earlier often

confuse with the Paralympic movement. We focused on sport for all of the - - any levels for people with intellectual development of this bodies, things like Down syndrome and autism. Paralympics sport highlights the

greatest athletes in the world, the elite athletes, most of with a physical disabilities.

So, while they celebrate the greatest achievements of many people like war veterans and so on. We complement and supplement their message with this

community-based movement. So, trying to use the power of sport in your hometown, in your village, in your school to end the stigma of it. So,

frequently, dominates the lives of people within election.

ANDERSON: And this is a region, let's be quite frank were special needs are not often discussed sometimes, not even disclose. So, how important is

it that the UAE would be hosting the games next year?

SHRIVER: I mean, I think, in a fundamental level, this is a human rights movement, not in an adversarial way. Sometimes rights are all about the

law. We are much more about the human side. And so, we're trying to bring the power of sport, the joy of sport. Who would want to play football, who

would want to try a game of basketball, who would want to run in a triathlon with a peer, with a friend, with a neighbor? So, we want to

introduce people to the joy and the giftedness of people with disabilities, to end with this, and promote as the UAE is now saying, people of

determination. This is the new language here, this is the new official language. People of determination, what an extraordinary turn around.

ANDERSON: This was a project that your mother, your mom has started up back in the day. And I want to play of you is some footage of your mother

speaking at the very first Special Olympics back in 1968, have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, MOTHER OF TIMOTHY SHRIVER: In ancient Rome, the gladiators went into the arena with these words on their lips, "Let me win,

but if I cannot win, let me be brave the attempt." Today, all of you young athletes are in the arena. Many of you will win, but even more important,

I know that you would be brave and bring credit to your parents and to your country. Let us begin the Olympic, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Amazing, and a great message from your mother there taking part as much as winning is what is all about being brave. How do you think she

would feel about where the competition is today?

T. SHRIVER: Well, I think, she'd be so grateful with the volunteers. She'd be so admiring of the mothers mostly, who are fighting so hard for

their children. You know, sometimes against the terribly painful odds. Mostly the odds of the stares, and the smears, and the ridicule of others.

She'd be so grateful to the governments that have responded by beginning to promote inclusive sport in schools, and inclusive play in early childhood

centers, and the like. That she would be tough on us, as she was in life, she would be now challenging as you have to do faster, you have to do

better, you have to do more. The injustice cannot continue.

ANDERSON: As tough on you, she would be on everybody else. So I think she's --

T. SHRIVER: Tougher.

ANDERSON: Tougher on you. Tim, your uncle, the late John F. Kennedy, was a political pioneer into helping people with disabilities. And his '60s

saying, and I quote, "We must promote to the best of our ability and by all possible and appropriate means, the mental and physical health of all of

our citizens." This ingressiveness is the key part, of course, of the Special Olympics. Why is it so important particularly now? And this is

something that you have grown up with, by the way, isn't it?

T. SHRIVER: It is.

ANDERSON: I mean, you've been part of this since you were a kid.

T. SHRIVER: Since in early age, but I think today, more important than ever. What's the biggest problem in the world today? Division, tension,

fear of difference. If you look around world, who are the leaders are healing that fear? Who are the people overcoming the intolerance? It's

actually, people with intellectual disabilities, it's in those villages, its 100,000 games a year. Run by special of this volunteers and family

members and coaches in their communities.

What are they doing there? Taking people out of institutions, out of the closets, out of the back rooms, out of the special schools into the public

eye. Showing us that we don't have to be afraid. Teaching us that we can be tolerant and accepting. Showing us the way to an inclusive worldview.

I mean, if you ask me, the world needs this role modeling more than any other. And I'm sorry to say, I don't see it coming from politicians today

but I do see it coming from the athletes of Special Olympics.

[11:40:14] ANDERSON: In it to win it, right?

T. SHRIVER: That's it, all the way.

ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.

T. SHRIVER: Thank you.

ANDERSON: This is something that we will be keeping up with throughout this year. As we say, the MENA Games said, really South Africa came here

now in the run-up to the Special World Games, this time, next year. And believe me, we will be covering those and we will get involved. Thank you.

Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, our top story this hour. Vladimir Putin is poised to keep his grip on power in

Russia for another six years. We will get you a live report from Moscow on that up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, let's circle back to what is our top story this hour. Right now, there are just over two hours to go in Russia's presidential

election where we want to remind you, more than 100 million people are expected to vote throughout the world's largest country, spread across 11

time zones.

But how much choice do all of these people really have? Well, take a look at the people going up against the man hoping to keep his job, Vladimir

Putin, there. Other seven candidates, sure, but there's no meaning for opposition. Mr. Putin's fiercest critic, Alex -- Alexei Navalny, isn't

allowed in the running. Well, for more, let's bring in CNN's Contributor Jill Dougherty.

And let's just talk about who is running, Jill. There are a number of people running in this election. This man, and that we are showing on our

screen now, though, is not. This is Alexei Navalny, an opposition activist. He's not allowed to be off to being banned, calling on people to

boycott voting.

They somewhat Matthew told us at the top of the hour that doesn't seem to be what's happening here, he blows out voting. Is Putin, just really,

really popular in a way that difficult for people outside of Russia to get their heads around, or not?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think Becky, part of it is that he genuinely is popular among many Russian people. And he is popular

for a number of reasons, I mean, there is as you pointed out, no viable alternative. Those other candidates, really, for the most part, were never

expected to do very well. So, President Putin, there is no question really realistically, that he would be re-elected.

But, then you get down to the nitty-gritty. I mean, why do they support him? Some people support him because basically, he improved their lives

going back to 2000 when he had his first election. And in fact, that was looking at some old tapes of that election to hear what Mr. Putin, said

back then. And I think, Becky, some of the themes that he was talking about during that election, remember, nobody knew who he was. He had just

been put in by Boris Yeltsin, who had left the scene. And what did he say? He was talking about Chechnya, you know, defending the country against

terrorism and also making people's lives better. So, in the beginning, he did, and he has improved the economic situation.

Right now, all be it with a lot of challenges from oil prices and from the sanctions. And what's he talking about today? He was talking just a

speech a couple of weeks ago talking about, we are falling behind. We have to -- you know, improve all the lives of people, and he is also talking

about, really being surrounded by enemies.

So, in a -- in a way, I think, those themes continue and that being surrounded by enemies, the west -- look at the spy situation ongoing in

London right now. Look at the investigations in the United States over interference in the elections, etcetera. He -- Mr. Putin, would argue that

they still have enemies, there is still people who want to bring Russia down back to its knees. And because he is perceived by many Russians as

standing up to the west, that foreign policy, that -- you know, aggressive storm turn works. And a lot -- it in inspires a lot of people, to think,

"Well, he's out there, for us."

[11:46:34] ANDERSON: Now, you're absolutely right to point out. This is fascinating that the election is taking place during what are soaring

tensions with the west. The short time ago, the Russian ambassador to the E.U. spoke about this former double agent poisoned in the U.K. He says,

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy is of no concern to Russians. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR CHIZHOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: You're rightly refer to Mr. Skripal, as a traitor, as a defector. But, you know, I can

assure you that he is almost forgotten in Russia. He has been living in Britain for eight years now. Before that, I think, I should stress the

point, he was officially pardoned by a presidential decree. Which means that what favorer one can think of him in the moral sense. But from the

legal point of view, congressional state had nothing against him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, the U.K. and Russia are both expel diplomat, in what is this ongoing tit-for-tat. Well, Jill, Vladimir Putin was a friend with the

west back in the day in 2000. He was to a certain extent, some people thought that he wanted to sort of model himself on an early Tony Blair. In

fact, have believed, Tony Blair may have been one of the first, if not the first leader that he reached out to who came to Moscow. What happened? He

reached out to the U.K., reached out to Europe, he reached out to the U.S. What went wrong?

DOUGHERTY: You know, I think one of the biggest things was the expansion of NATO. I think, at that point when the west start to bringing in new

countries, many of them, of course, that they had been part of the former Soviet Union. Russia and Mr. Putin began to feel that they were being

surrounded, even though, some of those countries really just wanted to be part of the west. The -- that's part of the narrative that the west has

been trying to strangle Russia and I think again, whether you agree with it, whether maybe some westerners think that, that is exaggerated, then, is

very much the feeling. And it's very much the feeling that -- you know, Russia is almost -- you can almost say on a war footing on many levels.

Maybe a hybrid war footing, but they are very worried about the west trying to take advantage, and ultimately, overthrow President Putin. That is part

of the narrative, as well.

ANDERSON: Fascinating times. Jill, always a pleasure, thank you. Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, we literally

go to the ends of the earth for a chilly look at Antarctica in time -- in the time of climate change. And we've got some incredible pictures to show

you. Do not go away, this will be stunning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:47] ANDERSON: Well, January and February are the summer months in the Antarctica. In Antarctica, sorry. So, while temperatures are still

well below, freezing month is a good time to study the continent's impacts on climate change. CNN's Arwa Damon joined Greenpeace expedition and was

rewarded with some chilly but amazing sights. Those are your parting shots this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a mythical world that we wake up to our first morning in the Antarctic. That sort of harsh,

yet captivating mystical beauty with penguins swimming and jumping in the waters right around our ship, the Arctic Sunrise.

It's so beautiful and quiet, you almost starting to want to speak above a whisper. And there's two whales right there, this is absolutely

unbelievable, Steven.

And as if the morning couldn't get striking. We are in the first week of a month-long leg of a Greenpeace expedition that started in January. A

campaign to build the case for the creation of the world's largest ocean sanctuary in the Antarctic which is a vital carbon sink. And that's what

we've come to learn more about. The Antarctic's potential to act as a buffer to climate change. We started off in Punta Arenas in Chile, before

hitting the Drake Passage notorious for its huge swells and rough waters.

Its day four and we're crossing through the Drake Passage. And we're lucky because, by the Drake Passage standards, this are actually really calm

waters.

For many of the Greenpeace team onboard and us, this is a first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There, I think it's a seal.

DAMON: Before we head to shore, all equipment and clothing needs to be carefully cloak.

It's quite interesting, so when you look at it from the outside, it feels like it's a very harsh and robust environment, and yet it's incredibly

sensitive.

SUNE SCHELLER, CAMPAIGNER, GREENPEACE: It's really sensitive, especially for a non-native species.

DAMON: And we are off, heading towards Yankee Harbor.

Oh, it's so weird to be on land again. Look at the seals.

This tiny Island like the rest of the massive land mass in the Antarctic is designated for scientific exploration and protected under the Antarctic

Treaty. But that Treaty does not extend to the Antarctic's waters, hence, Greenpeace's mission. Even this region's most humorous of animals have

their role in nature's equilibrium.

What is that mean? I don't know what that means.

Marine biologist in Greenpeace campaign, Thilo Maack, has been looking at the intricate links between these waters, its wildlife, and the fundamental

role they play in earth's carbon cycle.

If you look over there, they are trying to jump up on the ice, it's hilarious.

[11:54:56] THILO MAACK, MARINE BIOLOGIST, GREENPEACE: Yes, they are really cute, that's true. Yes, it's the Antarctic is a -- is a cooling chamber

that mitigates the effects of climate changed. And what happens here is having an effect on the climate of the planet. The ocean currents are

driven by the cold waters of the Antarctic.

DAMON: And the wildlife is central to driving carbon-rich biomass to the depths of the depth cold ocean waters, where it is then, stored for

millennia if it's left undisturbed. There are still many unknowns, and the more scientist uncover, the more questions arise. But there is no doubt

about the harmony here. One whose preservation is potentially linked to our very existence. Arwa Damon, CNN, the Antarctic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBINSON: Well, believe it or not, the Antarctica is a desert term, we will take you into another one, online. You can hop on to a camel and take

a ride with us on a virtual tour through the biggest sand desert in the world. That is facebook.com/cnnconnected. We think you want them

everywhere you want to be, we've taken you from one end of the world to the other and connect it for you. I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE

WORLD. Thank you for watching, from the team up here with me and those around the world as ever it is a very good evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END