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Defense Chief in Sri Lanka Resigns in Wake of Attacks; Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Talks About Investigation into Deadly Attacks; Joe Biden Announces Presidential Run; Putin and Kim Have First Face-To-Face Talks; Sri Lankan Forces Standing Guard as Families Grieve; Inside Russia's Plan to Crush Sudan Protests; Penguin Colony's Chicks Dying, Scientists Blame Environment. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 25, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN HOST: Hello. Thank you for joining us everyone. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Cyril Vanier here in Atlanta

filling in for Becky Anderson.

And we begin today with startling developments in the investigation into Sunday's bloody Easter bombing attacks in Sri Lanka. We have just learned

that the defense secretary has submitted his resignation after it was revealed that he received intelligence about possible attacks but did not

act on the information.

And a spice tycoon from one of Sri Lanka's wealthiest families is now in custody. Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim was the father of two of the suicide

bombers. You see him in the middle of this photo here. A police spokesman says he has been detained on suspicion of aiding and abetting his sons.

Also an exclusive CNN reporting. We now know incredibly that one of the sons had been arrested before and later released. On Sunday he entered a

restaurant in Cinnamon Grand Hotel and blew himself up. At least 359 people were killed when attackers targeted locations across the country,

including three churches. Catholic services across Colombo have been suspended until Monday because of security concerns.

Ivan Watson joins us now live from the capital of Colombo. Ivan, you've been doing great reporting. The investigation continues to turn up more

information on the attackers. You were able to talk to the Prime Minister about this?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I was. There were some startling revelations in our conversation. I asked Prime Minister

Ranil Wickremesinghe about the profiles of the suicide bombers who killed so many innocent people here on Sunday.


RANIL WICKREMESINGHE, SRI LANKAN PRIME MINISTER: They are middle class, upper middle class, well educated, educated abroad. That is surprising

because we were looking at other places for possible ISIS connections. But these people were well known and they were being monitored by the


WATSON: They were being monitored.

WICKREMESINGHE: They were being monitored by the intelligence.

WATSON: Some of the suicide bombers.

WICKREMESINGHE: Some of them, yes.

WATSON: And yet they were still able to carry out these deadly attacks?

WICKREMESINGHE: Yes. They didn't have sufficient evidence to take them in.

WATSON: What about the Ibrahim family? Mohamed Ibrahim --

WICKREMESINGHE: The father was a well-known businessman. He is a well- known businessman.

WATSON: And politically connected.

WICKREMESINGHE: Politically connected. I think he's contested on some political party here. But the children (INAUDIBLE).

WATSON: And his sons have been named as suicide bombers.


WATSON: Do you have information about any of these suicide bombers having been arrested in the past and released by the authorities because of

political connections?

WICKREMESINGHE: Well, some I think were taken in for questioning. And just I asked them for a full report on who was questioned. But this whole

issue is going around whether they were taken in and released. I've asked the police for a full report.

WATSON: Can you tell me about possible links to ISIS? ISIS has claimed responsibility.

WICKREMESINGHE: We fear there's a foreign link. Now that ISIS has claimed responsibility, it could be them. So that's why we've asked for help to

trace it.

WATSON: And this possible threat of a second wave of attacks.

WICKREMESINGHE: Well they do it at some time. Not now, maybe six months down the road. So we have to identify them. At least get some more -- so

we can take the precautions.

WATSON: I've been at funerals of victims and there is real anger among survivors that the government didn't do enough to protect them, at least

359 people killed. Does the government need to do more for failing to protect these hundreds and hundreds of innocent victims?

WICKREMESINGHE: No, we have facts. The fact that there was a breakdown in the security apparatus. We are not going away from that. And it's

understandable when 350 people are killed in one blast. The anger -- we've seen this earlier also when we had the war in the north. So what we will

do now and what we can do now is to apprehend this whole group -- it's a small one -- and ensure that it doesn't start again.

WATSON: Does the responsibility lie with you or the President?

WICKREMESINGHE: Well, as a government, the security system failed. That's all that I can say. I don't want to talk about my role in it.

WATSON: What do you say to somebody whose entire family has been destroyed?

WICKREMESINGHE: I don't have the words for that. I don't think I have the words for that.


WATSON: No real words. And you can't really say anything, Cyril, to somebody whose perhaps wife and daughter were killed as one Australian Sri

Lankan that I spoke with yesterday told me.

[11:05:00] There's almost nothing you can say to somebody whose family were destroyed in the blink of an eye by a senseless act of violence. All I can

say is hold your loved ones a little bit closer tonight -- zero.

VANIER: Ivan, one question that I've been asking all of you out there in the field since these terror attacks happened is, are we still in fear of a

possible second attack? And you got to ask the Prime Minister about that. His answer made it clear that they don't believe they've contained all the

risks yet.

WATSON: Yes. He says that the threat has gone down some, but the posture of the security forces is as vigilant as ever. And there have been a

number of bomb scares. They're carrying out controlled detonations on almost a daily basis. The Catholic Church has announced that it's

suspending all religious services until April 29th for fear that there could be further attacks.

And now we've heard from a government minister in charge of Muslim religious affairs. He's asking all Muslims not to go to mosques for Friday

prayers on Monday in a show of solidarity with their Christian brothers. So I think some of that is an indicator of how concerned people are right

now. We have heard from security officials they are worried that there could be -- and the Prime Minister said this -- there still could be

sleepers out there waiting for their moment to strike -- Cyril.

VANIER: Ivan Watson reporting live from the Sri Lankan capital. Great reporting, great interview there with the Prime Minister. Ivan, thank you.

Former U.S. President Joe Biden has finally gotten off the sidelines, joining the race to unseat President Trump as the Democratic Party front

runner. He launched his campaign online today saying nothing less than the soul of America is at stake. His video focused on the deadly weekend in

Charlottesville, Virginia, back in 2017. When neo-Nazis and other white supremacists marched in the streets and clashed with protesters. Biden

said the President Trump's failure to unequivocally condemn the hate was a defining moment.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the

character of this nation. Who we are? And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.


VANIER: President Trump has already responded, welcoming Biden to the race. In a tweet while calling him sleepy Joe and insulting his

intelligence. One of Biden's biggest selling points is electability. As some believe that he stands the best chance of beating Donald Trump. But

first, he would have to get past a very crowded field of fellow Democrats, unprecedentedly crowded. Many representing a fresh new vision for the

party. CNN's Arlette Saenz has more now on Biden's Presidential bid.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Joe Biden making it official today, hoping his third run for the White House is the charm.

It's the latest chapter in the 76-year-old Democrat's long political career. His life started in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Biden traces

back his blue-collar roots.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Everything important in my life that I learned, I learned here in Scranton.

SAENZ: His family later moved to Delaware where Biden first took public office as a county counselor, then a long shot bid for Delaware's Senate

seat, winning at the age of 29. But shortly after that victory, tragedy struck.

BIDEN: I got a phone call. You've got to come home. Your wife and daughter have just been killed, a tractor trailer broadsided them and

killed them. Your sons may not make it.

SAENZ: A grief-stricken Biden considered not joining the Senate but was sworn in at his son's hospital bedside. The Delaware Democrat commuted to

and from Washington each day, often by train. He later married a teacher, Jill Jacobs, and had another daughter.

BIDEN: No man deserves one great love, let alone two.

SAENZ: Biden went on to serve 36 years in the Senate. Ted Kaufman was Biden's chief of staff for nearly two decades, witnessing the highs and

lows of his career up close.

TED KAUFMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: He's got character. A lot of character comes with age, but a lot of character comes from being through,

you know, incredibly difficult times. So he's very comfortable in his skin.

SAENZ: In 1987, Biden launched his first run for president.

BIDEN: As today I announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.

SAENZ: But his campaign tanked after charges of plagiarism. Twenty years later, Biden made a second run for the White House, but after a poor

showing in Iowa, dropped out again, later landing in a different spot on the 2008 Democratic ticket.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The next vice president of the United States of America, Joe Biden.

[11:10:00] SAENZ: The oftentimes blunt Biden at President Obama's side as vice president for eight years.

BIDEN: This is a big -- deal.

SAENZ: The two forged a close friendship, cemented even deeper when tragedy hit a second time.

BEAU BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S SON: My father, my hero, the next vice president of the United States, Joe Biden.

SAENZ: In 2015, Biden's eldest son Beau died after a battle with brain cancer.

BIDEN: Beau was my soul. Beau is my conscience.

SAENZ: But grief ultimately impacted his decision on the 2016 race.

BIDEN: Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.

SAENZ: Now after months of deliberations, Biden is giving a third run for the White House a go. His more than four-decades-long career is set to

face a fresh look from legislative successes like the Violence Against Women Act --

BIDEN: I wrote that act myself with my own hand.

SAENZ: -- to his experience on the foreign stage. But other areas of his career will undergo renewed scrutiny, like his role in crafting of the 1994

crime bill, and his handling of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill.

BIDEN: Professor, do you swear to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?


SAENZ: As he prepares to take his frontrunner spot in the Democratic primary field, those closest to Biden say he's ready for the challenge


KAUFMAN: When Joe Biden looks in that mirror, he's not going to stop, not do this because it is going to be hard, or he might lose, or anything else.

He does it because he won't feel right about himself.


VANIER: That was CNN political reporter, Arlette Saenz there.

And our next guest is a political veteran who has worked on several presidential campaigns and served as press secretary for former President

Bill Clinton. CNN political commentator, Joe Lockhart, joins us now from New York. Joe, in his initial pitch to voters, Biden isn't presenting

himself as an ideas man, as a policy guy. No, he's saying that he is the antidote to Trump. Would you think of that?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. I think he will make the case that he is the most formidable and electable candidate to put up

against Trump. You know, he's running against 19 or 20 other people, most of whom the public doesn't know. At least on the Democratic side,

everybody knows Joe Biden. He's known as Uncle Joe by millions of people.

VANIER: So he's running on name rick in addition?

LOCKHART: Not name recognition. He's running on his record, running on the fact that he stood with Obama for eight years. And I think he's

betting that most Democrats at the end of the day can put policy issues aside and say what we really have to do is get Trump out of office. And

he'll make the case that he's the best bet to do that.

VANIER: But here's the thing. Anti-Trumpism didn't work for Hillary Clinton in 2016. And now I recognize, obviously, it's very different

running against an incumbent. Because now Trump has a record he needs to defend. But the fact remains that playing the statesman card, the serious

candidate card, versus the erratic and dangerous freelancer lost Hillary Clinton an election that everyone thought she'd win.

LOCKHART: Yes, and we've now had three years of President Trump. I think President Trump won because the public looked at the two choices, didn't

really like either of them. And I mean that as some of the public. I think Hillary had 45 percent of the country solidly who was behind her.

But the people who decided the election, the people in the middle, didn't like either choice. And at the end of the day decided, you know what, how

bad could it be? Let's give the new guy a chance.

Well I think we found out how bad it can be and I think that will be part of Joe Biden's message. Which is you know me. He's liked on both sides of

the aisle. You like me and you know I have the experience to come in and on the first day take over and start undoing some of this damage.

VANIER: Joe Biden obviously was vice president for eight years under President Obama. And he himself is keen to highlight that political

affiliation. He says he's an Obama/Biden Democrat. But the former President hasn't endorsed him. He was asked that question and Obama has

only nice things to say about his former VP but he hasn't endorsed him. Is that a problem for Joe Biden?

LOCKHART: I don't think so. I think people understand the strength of that relationship. I think past presidents stay out of political

campaigns, particularly when there's 20 candidates in there. I think there's a vast reservoir of good will for President Obama. He is the

leader of the party, and for Biden. But there's nobody out there, particularly younger people, who wants someone to tell them who to vote


So I think Obama understands, Biden understands that he's got to earn this. He's got to go out and work. You know, he is 76 years old. He's got to

show people that he's got the stamina to go and campaign every day and go do the retail politics.

[11:15:00] You know, the dirty little secret is he loves it. So I have no doubt that he'll pass that test.

VANIER: And the Democrat's base seems to have moved to the left since the days of Obama. Is Biden now too moderate you think for his own party?

LOCKHART: Well I think there's a misconception that the Democratic base has moved to the left. If you look at the 2018 midterm elections,

Democrats picked up 40 seats. I think in 33 or 34 of them, the more moderate candidate in the primary of Democrats won the nomination and won

the seat. It depends where you are. I get that a lot of the most progressive Democrats in the new crop of Congress get most of the

attention. But Democrats won because of moderates.

So I think the party is much bigger and richer than at first blush. And I think that bodes well for Biden. Now he still has to earn this. Politics

change particularly in the digital age faster than you can imagine. And what worked for years ago, eight years ago, 12 years, doesn't work anymore.

So it'll be a test for him. And I think we'll know much better within two or three months whether he's the strong front runner who's going to start

clearing the field or whether if he's back in the pack. And if these back in the pack then I think that really reduces his chances.

VANIER: What about his ability -- assuming he gets through the primary and he's the nominee, what about his ability to beat Donald Trump? We've kind

of already seen a little bit what that feels like. We've got flashes of it with Joe Biden a couple years ago saying back in the day he would have

given Trump a beating when they were in high school. Now Trump is insulting his intelligence. It all feels very macho. We're getting a hint

of what that matchup looks like.

VANIER: Yes, listen, I think Joe Biden can take a punch and he can give a punch. I don't really think that that's how he'll base his campaign on if

he's lucky enough to get the nomination. I really think he's going to focus in on how Trump has changed America. Not personally going after him

every day and coming up with nicknames and insults. It's telling that he's used Charlottesville as a launching pad. Because it really was a shameful

moment in our country's history when our President stood up for neo-Nazis. And I think it will be that. It'll be a sharp attack on the President. I

think it will be more about what it's done to the country as opposed to a personal attack.

VANIER: Yes, and Joe Biden will keep making the case for himself and for his ability to beat Donald Trump in the coming weeks. All right, thank you

very much. CNN political commentator, Joe Lockhart.

LOCKHART: Thank you.

VANIER: Still to come, they sure put on a show, but did the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un impact North Korea's relationship

with the U.S.? An exclusive look behind the scenes at the summit when we come back.


VANIER: With handshakes and toasts, Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, held a summit on Thursday. Despite the smiles all

around, it's not clear what role Russia could play, might play in denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States. Still,

this was an event that both sides were happy to be a part of. Here's CNN's Matthew Chance with an exclusive look inside that meeting room.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've got ourselves into the room where this reception was held with the North Korean

and the Russian delegations, including, of course, the two leaders, Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin.

You can see this is the main central table where they sat and it's been decorated and it's being cleared away at the moment by the staff here.

In terms of the actual talks, detail has been very short. We know they discussed disarmament on the Korean Peninsula, ways in which the Russians

can help in that process if they can help at all. This is classic Putin though. Because it wasn't about really what could actually be done. It

wasn't about details. It was about optics for the Russians and for the North Koreans.

For the North Koreas showing the world they have more allies than just China, that they're not isolated in the world following the breakup of the

nuclear talks with President Trump in Vietnam in February.

And Important for the Russians as well because this is Vladimir Putin once again attempting successfully to insert himself into one of the major

crises of international diplomacy.

Now in terms of the specifics of what they ate, we've got a bit more. Look at this, a plate of bulgar wheat. And I'm told Russian beef food that was

served with some sweets and some bread. Obviously, there clearing it all away now. But this is cool. A chocolate cheesecake with the North Korean

and the Russian flags on top.

I Matthew Chance in Vladivostok, Eastern Russia.


VANIER: Jean Lee joins me now. She was the Associated Press Bureau chief in Pyongyang. She's now the director for the Center of Korean History and

Public Policy. Jean, what's really going on here? Is North Korea somehow looking for Russia to be its plan B if talks with the United States fail?

JEAN LEE, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR KOREAN HISTORY AND PUBLIC POLICY: This is an opportunity for Kim Jong-un to shore up some support from an old friend

of North Korea. You know, we saw so much pomp, so much propaganda in this meeting . And they did sit down for quite a long time in these one-on-one

talks. And while we weren't privy to that, certainly we know they emerged without any kind of agreement.

But for Kim Jong-un, this is a chance to show his people in the wake of the rupture in Hanoi that Russia still has our back. It is very interesting

for Putin. It's also a chance for him to play the role of big brother and to portray himself as this benefactor, as the rational voice in all this

tumultuous discussion about what to do about North Korea's nuclear program. So it certainly gives him the chance to portray himself in that role.

VANIER: But, Jean, but Russia doesn't want a frenzy of nuclear activity either, doesn't want that any more than the U.S. or China wants it. So

what does it really have to offer?

LEE: Absolutely. Russia has been all along saying that what they need is discussion. So we will perhaps see Russia putting forth this idea of these

multilateral six party talks again. Russia has had a very interesting stake in all of this, supportive in the smallest possible way of North

Korea. You know, they don't provide so much trade or financial help to North Korea and has largely protected North Korea in many of these U.N.

Security Council resolutions in the past.

But very nervous about the intransigence, the nuclear defiance that North Korea has shown in the past couple years, in 2017. And did sign onto some

of the toughest sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council to show -- their showing North Korea, hey, we're not going to sit by, we want to show

you that we're not happy with that. And so Russia has played an interesting role here. But this is Putin's chance to say, yes, we agree

that we've put this pinch on your economy by agreeing to these sanctions but we want to help draw you back into this international fold.

[11:25:02] So it's an interesting role that he's playing here.

VANIER: Kim Jong-un never mentioned, at least not in public, the word denuclearization. Is that significant to you?

LEE: That is interesting. He does avoid that word. And I think that's such a big question going forward as this nuclear negotiation plays out

with the United States. Is how to define that word, denuclearization.

North Korea has been very clear that what they want to do is portray themselves or establish themselves as a nuclear power. They've shown they

have nuclear weapons. They've shown they have ICBMs capable of striking the United States and they want the United States to acknowledge them as a

nuclear power. That's something the United States has not been willing to do. And what Kim Jong-un is saying, listen, I am happy to discuss the

denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, not just North Korea but for you to discuss how you're going to withdraw your nuclear umbrella from South

Korea as well.

So it's going to be a very tough road ahead as they really get down to the nitty-gritty of what denuclearization means. That's going to be the

challenge ahead for these negotiators, not only North Korea and the United States but also Russia, China, South Korea and Japan. If they try to map

out what need to happen in order for this lifting of sanctions, for example, imposed on North Korea.

VANIER: Yes, and Kim Jong-un has issued a number of warnings just in the past ten days directed at the United States. Telling them they need to

change their approach, otherwise nothing's going to come out of this negotiation. And he appeared to give himself the rest of the year to

consider whether he'd meet with Donald Trump again. So we'll see where that goes. Jean, great to talk to you again, thank you.

LEE: Thank you.

VANIER: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, days of disruption. People glued to buildings, glued to cars, huge pink bows. Because, why not? It's

all coming to an end. So who is in the cross hairs on the final day of climate protests? We've got the view from London when we come back.


VANIER: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Cyril Vanier. Welcome back.

Let's recap our top story. We have learned that the defense secretary of Sri Lanka has submitted his resignation after it was revealed that he

received intelligence about possible attacks but failed to act on that information.

Also we learned one of the Easter suicide bombers has been arrested before and then later released. He's the one who blew himself up at the Cinnamon

Grand Hotel. And we know his brother -- on the right here -- was also one of the attackers. Their father is a wealthy spice trader. He's the man in

the middle of this picture. He's now in police custody.

Catholic services across Colombo have been suspended until Monday because of security concerns. And authorities have urged Muslims not to gather

publicly for Friday prayers.

The bombings are exposing religious fault lines in this island nation. And families who lost loved ones in the attack are struggling to cope. Here's

Ivan Watson.


WATSON (voice-over): A 10-year-old Alexandria sings a song for her father.

SUDESH KOLONNE, FAMILY KILLED IN BOMBING: She loved to dance. She loved to create songs you know.

WATSON: This is the last video Sudesh Kolonne has of his little girl. On Sunday morning, the Australian-Sri Lankan, his wife, Manik, and daughter,

all prepared to celebrate Easter together.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten- year-old Alexandria sing the song for her father.

SUDESH KOLONNE, FATHER OF VICTIM: She loved to dance. She's like, she loves to create songs, you know.

WATSON: This is the last video Sudesh Kolonne has of his little girl. On Sunday morning, the Australian-Sri Lankan, his wife, Manik, and daughter,

all prepared to celebrate Easter together.

KOLONNE: They we were so excited Sunday we are going to church for the ceremony.

WATSON: And it was here at St. Sebastian Catholic Church that a suicide bomber struck.

KOLONNE: Both died in front of me, especially my daughter and my wife both died in my hand.

WATSON: His wife and daughter two of the hundreds of people killed on Easter by a wave of suicide bombers.

Grief now echoes across this island nation, hundreds of families destroyed by acts of unspeakable violence.

(on camera): The people of Sri Lanka have barely begun the process of burying their dead. And there are still so many more funerals to be had.

(voice-over): The suicide bomber at St. Sebastian transformed this house of worship into a slaughterhouse.

One top Sri Lankan official says the bombers were home grown Islamic extremist seeking revenge for a white nationalist's attack on two mosques

in Christchurch, New Zealand last month. Mass shootings that killed 50 people.

(on camera): The weapons used against the mosques in New Zealand and St. Sebastian Church here in Sri Lanka may have been different but all of these

attacks were fueled by the same raw hatred. This, this is the end result of the twisted logic of mass murder.

(voice-over): Sri Lankans are trying hard to avoid descending into a cycle of sectarian revenge attacks. The Catholic clergy, trying to keep their

targeted community calm.

NIROSHAN PERERA, PRIEST: Be calm. Don't fight with each other, don't have a grudge with each other, especially with the Muslims.

WATSON: But grieving families can't even mourn in peace. Police and troops out in force to protect funerals from the threat of a second wave of

terrorist attacks. Survivors like Sudesh Kolonne are left clinging to extended relatives.

KOLONNE: We have a really good family. I mean, especially my daughter, a good time, unbelievable loss.

WATSON: Hard to imagine how anyone can ever recover from this type of loss.

KOLONNE: Now they are going, now I'm very hurt.

WATSON: Ivan Watson, CNN, Negombo, Sri Lanka.


VANIER: Several other stories that are on our radar right now. Former Nissan chairman, Carlos Ghosn, is a free man once again. The Japanese

court granted his release on bail at a hefty price tag, $4.5 million. They rejected prosecutors appeals to reverse that decision a short time ago.

Ghosn faces four separate sets of charges.

[11:35:00] Facebook recorded a rare decline in profits this quarter, largely because the company is setting aside funds to pay a massive fine

from the Federal Trade Commission. That investigation into user data sharing could end up costing Facebook as much as $5 billion.

Britain's Prince William is in New Zealand for a national day of remembrance. He attended a service to honor lives lost in the battle of

Gallipoli in World War I. He's also visiting with people in Christchurch six weeks after the deadly mosque attack there.

It is the final day of a protest campaign in London demanding government action on climate change. And activists are focusing their anger on the

city's financial district. They stood on top of trains at Canary Wharf Station. You can see the signs here. One of them reads, "business as

usual equals death." They also blocked the entrance to the London Stock Exchange. One of the protesters says they were pushed into civil



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's bizarre. We have to do this in order for governments to listen to the scientists, to the warnings of the scientists.

It's completely bizarre that we have to do this.


VANIER: More than a thousand people have been detained in London since the "Extinction Rebellion" protests began, a thousand people. And CNN's Anna

Stewart was there from the beginning to the end.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: The police here arrived incredibly quickly. The protesters who are lying on the road behind me have only been here for

half an hour. Already they have been told they might be arrested and specialist units have already stepped in with specialist equipment that can

cut the chains tying the protesters together.

Now this area is being targeted for being a financial district. Goldman Sachs is right here. That's been targeted for its investments in fossil

fuels. Also today they have targeted the London Stock Exchange, Canary Wharf. We've had protesters climbing on top of tubes and being arrested as

a result of that. We expect more swarms like this throughout the financial hub of London all day. Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


VANIER: The protests are continuing in Sudan as people keep pushing for substantive change. When we come back, we bring you exclusive reporting on

how Russia planned to suppress those uprisings before they got this far.


VANIER: As protesters in Sudan continue to hold out against the country's latest military rulers, the families of the dozens killed by Sudanese

government forces over the three months of protests are still mourning their dead. But as deadly as the months of protest have been, CNN has

learned it could have been much worse.

Documents obtained by the London based group, the Dossier Center, and shared with CNN, detail a plan very similar to that which is believed to

have played out during the 2016 U.S. elections. This time put forward by a shadowy Russian mining company linked to U.S. sanctioned Putin confidante,

Yevgeny Prigozhin.

[11:40:00] Offering to help crush the protesters, spread misinformation and above all, keep Omar al-Bashir in power. At stake, a Russian naval

presence on Sudan strategic Red Sea coast. CNN's Nima Elbagir has this exclusive report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He was just 17 years old, in his first year of university.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): January 8, government forces in Khartoum opened fire on unarmed protestors. A

teenager, Mohammed El-Fateh (ph), is among the first to die. His mother tells us, he knew there was a chance he'd be killed that day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It was Mohammed's hope that the government would be overthrown. Our hope is that the same way Bashir

killed our son, he must be executed, killed.

ELBAGIR: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is ousted, but the crowds gather still outside the military headquarters. Today, they're chanting,

"only blood washes blood." They want justice for the dozens of lives lost during the pro-democracy process but it could have been so much worse.

CNN has learned that in January, Russian advisors to the government drew up plans to suppress the protests. Government sources in Sudan say they

worked from an office in Khartoum belonging to an obscure Russian mining company called M Invest.


ELBAGIR (on camera): We just asked in those offices, and they told us that this was another mining company, not M-Invest. But this is the exact

address that we've been given by numerous sources, and there really isn't any other Russian company matching the description that we were given of M-

Invest right here.

(voice-over): CNN has discovered that M Invest had sophisticated plans to disrupt the process. Painting them as a foreign plot. Fabricating

evidence that protestors were being paid, that they are destroying mosques and schools.

(on camera): The evidence comes from thousands of documents shared with us by the London-based Dossier Center. They paint a picture of an operation

prepared to go to great lengths to keep Omar al-Bashir in power. But why would an obscure mining company care?

(voice-over): Because M-Invest is part of the business empire of Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of Russia's most prominent oligarchs and a man close to

President Vladimir Putin.

The documents reviewed by CNN offer no confirmation that official Russian security agencies were involved directly in trying to suppress the protests

in Sudan. But Sudan was at the heart of a Russian drive to expand its influence in Africa. Russia had bet big on Omar al-Bashir. It wanted

logistical help for their navy at Port Sudan.

In January, activists circulated images of heavily-armed men observing the protests. Government and military sources in Sudan say they were private

Russian contractors, embedded with Sudanese government forces.

(on camera): At the same time, M-Invest was working on a plan to discredit the leaders of this process, recommending that looters, so- called looters,

should be executed. Putting together a social media campaign suggesting that Israel was behind the process. And saying that lesbian, gay and

bisexual activists were working among the protesters. Something that would have been utterly unacceptable in the deeply Islamic and conservative

society here in Sudan.

(voice-over): Multiple government and military sources in Sudan tell CNN that Russian advisers were placed in government ministries and the national

intelligence service. According to one senior figure in Bashir's regime, their plans involved what he called minimal but acceptable loss of life.

The regime did begin to implement the M-Invest plan, smearing students as trying to foment civil war. Limiting Internet access and even devising a

fake social media campaign to start disputes and disinformation. The same playbook U.S. prosecutors say Russia's Internet Research Agency used to

disrupt the 2016 presidential election. The agency and M-Invest both tied to Yevgeny Prigozhin. He's previously denied any ties to election

meddling, and calls to his company for this report went unanswered.

And when he apparently felt Sudan's government was slow to act, Prigozhin evidently wanted more.

[11:45:00] In a letter to Bashir in mid-March he accused the government of inaction and warned that the lack of active steps to overcome the crisis is

likely to lead to even more serious consequences. As the process gained strength, Prigozhin wrote again, praising Bashir as a wise and farsighted

leader but urging immediate reforms.

Senior officials in Khartoum tell us that Bashir hesitated. Within a week, he was gone. But M-Invest is not. The documents we've reviewed show that

it has close ties to Sudan's military, and they're in charge now. The families of the fallen prey that their sacrifices are not in vain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm happy that Mohammad's dream of freedom was realized. I'm grateful to God, and I hope -- dear God

forgive me.

ELBAGIR: The Kremlin and its oligarchs may have other ideas. But for now, here in Khartoum, the fight for freedom continues.


VANIER: And Nima joins us now from Khartoum. Nima, you exposed how Russian interests tried to insert themselves in this crisis. Do you think

those same interests might still be working behind the scenes now that Omar al-Bashir is gone?

ELBAGIR: Absolutely, Cyril. We know that they are still here. As recently as two days ago, we were made aware of a number of websites which

continue to put out propaganda working under M-Invest. One of the latest pieces that came out accused the so-called militant wing of the Sudanese

Professional Association -- which has been the association that has spoken on behalf of the protesters and organized for them -- accusing them of

plotting to detonate a bomb near Khartoum's military headquarters. And blaming it on the army to change the face of the army, to shame the army.

So it's clear that as much as Russia continues here, that of course means that the Sudanese deep state continues, because it is Sudan's national

intelligence, it's Sudan's infrastructure of rule under al-Bashir that the Russians were working with. And that of course, for the protesters we've

been speaking to, is deeply concerning -- Cyril.

VANIER: Nima Elbagir, thank you so much for your exclusive reporting. I know you'll continue to follow the story.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up. Penguins in Antarctica have a problem. For the past few years almost all of their chicks have died. Why

is this happening? I'll speak to one of the scientists who raise the alarm when we come back.


[11:50:00] VANIER: Scientists are raising alarm bells about one of the world's most beloved animals, penguins. They say at least one colony of

Emperor Penguins in Antarctica is shrinking dramatically because of a catastrophic breeding failure. The problem is that they cannot keep their

chicks alive. And it appears that changes in the environment could be to blame. Peter Fretwell is with the British Antarctica Survey. That is the

group that spotted the shrinking colony. He is the lead author of the survey. Peter, you've been monitoring these penguins for decades, right?

PETER FRETWELL, BRITISH ANTARCTICA SURVEY (via Skype): Well, for about a decade. Through satellite imagery we've been monitoring every penguin in

that colony. In about 2016 we spotted something particularly worrying at this one colony which called Adelie. It's the second largest Emperor

Penguin colony in the world.

VANIER: What did you notice?

FRETWELL: We saw that the sea ice had broken out far too early. Now the Emperor Penguin is the only bird in the world that doesn't breathe on land

but breeds on the frozen ocean. And it breeds on sea ice. It needs the ice to be stable for much of the year. If it breaks up too early then the

chicks which won't have fledged and got their waterproof feathers. When they go into the sea they will drown or freeze to death. So in this case

we think that in 2016 when this first happened, all of the chicks perished. That's happened now for three years in a row.

VANIER: All right, before you continue, I want to bring up those satellite images again because that's the main tool that you're employing to monitor

these penguins. Look at these pictures, 2015 top of your screen, 2018 bottom of your screen. You see the brown areas, the brown dots in 2015.

That is the penguin colony. And as you see there's not much of it left at all three years later. So why is this happening?

FRETWELL: So we know that in 2016 when the event first happened, we had a huge storm come and rip out all of the ice. The ice which is attached to

the land. That was associated with a big warm El Nino which happened in the area, the strongest El Nino we've seen in that area. Why the sea ice

has not come back and become stable again after that, we're not entirely sure. There seems to have been some regime change which means now the sea

ice breaks up two or three months earlier -- a couple months earlier than it has been doing previously which is terrible news for this particular


VANIER: Is that to do with rising water temperatures? I mean, is it fair to think this might be a consequence of global warming or are you looking

at a freak event?

FRETWELL: Well we know that -- we think that we will get more and more intense El Nino events with global warming. But putting this particular

single event down to global climate change is really different. It's really hard to say that. What we can say is that we predict over the next

few decades that we're going to see this type of event happening at more and more in the penguin colonies. As the world warms, we will see sea ice

lost around Antarctica. And that will really heavily impact the penguins. And this is the first time we've seen this particular type, which may be

with any Emperor Penguin colony.

VANIER: So what does the colony do then? If they notice year after year after year that their chicks are not surviving, are they relocating?

FRETWELL: Well that is one of the good things we've noticed here. We've been monitoring other colonies around the coastline and one of the colonies

-- as this colony has been decreasing rapidly, the nearest other colony 55 kilometers to the south has started to increase. And we believe that's

because we're getting immigration in from the colonies to the north. So they waited a couple of years to see if the conditions change and then they

started to move wholesale to this colony 50 kilometers or so to the south. That really does help us understand what will happen in future climate

events with Emperor Penguins. We didn't know whether they would try and tough it out at the same colony year on year or whether they would move.

VANIER: So real quick. Do you think the colony will survive at this stage?

FRETWELL: It's hard to say whether this colony will ever reform. Because at the moment the site is unviable to raise chicks. So we know that it's

starting to move south. My feeling is that the whole colony will move south, at least in the short-term. Whether the sea ice ever comes back to

this place, we're not entirely sure. We'll have to wait and see.

[11:55:50] VANIER: Peter Fretwell joining us from Cambridge, England. Thank you so much for your time on the show. Thanks.

One more thing before we let you go. You have heard of cat cafes maybe. But what about this? In our parting shots this hour I present to you a pig

cafe. It's a new cafe where you can spend time petting baby pigs, hence the name. So where is it, you ask? Well where else? It's in Japan. This

is the first pig cafe to open in Tokyo. It is supposed to ease stress with a dose of cuteness. One customer said these little piggy's can, quote,

heal my heart.

All right. I'm Cyril Vanier. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. "THE EXPRESS" is next with Zane Asher. Stay with CNN.