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Hong Kong Mainland Official Says Protests Show Signs of "Terrorism"; Expanding Investigations into Epstein's Death while Trump Peddles Conspiracies; Memorial Held for Five Scientists Killed in Russia Blast; Secret, Private Army Does Anything Putin Says. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello thanks for joining us, I'm John Vause.

Ahead, to the brink of no return. Hong Kong's chief executive warned two weeks of increasingly violent protests must end, as pro-democracy demonstrators stage an airport sit-in for the fifth day, causing dozens of flights to be canceled and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

The conspiracy theorist-in-chief, how Donald Trump is using the world's biggest megaphone to undermine a belief in truth.

Putin's private army: CNN investigates a secret fighting force doing the Russian president's bidding, covering the world's most dangerous places.

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VAUSE: One of the world's busiest airports remains under siege, the latest flashpoint in that battle between the Beijing backed government and pro-democracy demonstrators. Thousands of protesters took over the main terminal, forcing the cancellation of all outbound departures. Officials expected operations to return to normal Tuesday morning but by our count, almost 300 flights were canceled.

There is now just a handful of protesters and the main terminal but organizers are expecting numbers to surge in the coming hours. This is a live look at it on midday on Tuesday. From Beijing, the harshest language yet, using protesters of showing signs of terrorism. Andrew Stevens is live at the airport and Hong Kong.

Andrew, one minute past 12. There's an expectation that the numbers will grow by the afternoon.

Can the protesters continue to simply disrupt travel?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: To the first point, John, it looks at the stage as if there will be a steady buildup, as you say. It is just past noon. The call is for protesters to start arriving in about one hour from now. Just a couple of dozen people camping out overnight and telling us that they are expecting numbers to swell.

There were thousands here yesterday towards the early evening, at which point the authorities, the Hong Kong authorities actually closed the airport. Hundreds of flights have been canceled.

And the reason is that protesters are here and are likely to be coming back is because they want to draw international attention to what happened over the weekend.

You see these posters all over the airport, which shows what they claim is police brutality against protesters over the weekend. A series of, clashes, including one woman who was allegedly shot at close range by a nonlethal weapon. The protesters coming out here, A, because they think it's safe and, B, because they think they can get that international message across this a police are overreacting and there is unnecessary use of force by the.

Police but the protesters we speak to are all saying they're going to stay, John and, they are expecting, as I say, reinforcements to come and. The actual airlines themselves are getting back to normal, here it's pretty chaotic, there's a lot of backlog of flights to clear but at least, at the moment, there are plenty of arrivals and departures.

VAUSE: Hong Kong is one of those crowded airports. We are hearing from officials now, talking about warnings of signs of terrorism within the protest event. The mouthpiece for the Communist Party is how peaceful protesters they wrote in Hong Kong express their voices. Hong Kong police found violent evidence during Sunday's demonstrations, also a video with evidence of weapons they say police took away from demonstrators.

The protesters are accusing police of using excessive force, with left a young woman blinded after she was hit by a nonlethal weapon.

It seems the only path these two sides are heading on is escalation.

Other any talks to find an off ramp?

STEVENS: There are none, there are no negotiations that are going on at the, moment there was a background briefing a couple of days ago by the Hong Kong government by one of the senior members of Carrie Lam, the chief executive's administration. That question was put them and the negotiation is that there is a back channel, to speak to.

The response was we don't know who the leadership is. This has been a feature of this protest, that it's been organic, that most of the protesters --

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STEVENS: -- are being driven by social media, protesters suddenly making a call on social media to keep police second-guessing on their toes, where they should. Be but the bottom line is that there is no negotiation.

The lines on both the police side, the Hong Kong, Carrie Lam this morning saying that Hong Kong was on the brink of no return and that the law was being broken in dramatic fashion and that Hong Kong needed to come together on the same page.

We are hearing that these words from Beijing, terrorism has not been used before. Hong Kong protesters are showing signs of terrorism, according to a Beijing official. They're urging police authorities to use an iron fist to crack down on what they see as violent crime.

It's interesting, John, because there have been rumors circulating that we could see the People's Liberation Army moving into Hong Kong. There was video released at the weekend, showing military police doing exercises. That was explained as a regular exercise but the Hong Kong government is saying we can deal with this.

And Hong Kong government would have to ask Beijing to intervene, there is no sign of that Hong Kong government says that we can manage. But from what we are saying, we are seeing these protests.

Several thousand people here in a few hours from now, the potential to close the airport yet again as a distinct possibility. That is the aim of the protesters and there is very little security as far as trying to move these protesters on, so they are settling in for a long haul, John.

VAUSE: Andrew Stevens, we will catch up with you again next hour. Thank you.

For more I'm joined by Frank Ching in Hong Kong. He's a China political commentator, Frank, thank you for taking the time.

Hong Kong police have admitted that undercover officers were placed among the protesters, than we heard from the chief executive, rejecting accusations that, overall police are using excessive force, listen to Carrie Lam, here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE (through translator): The police have very rigid and stringent guidelines and the use of appropriate force and that requires the lowest level of force in dealing with those situations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: There've been images of what appears to be undercover officers in action, dressed in black, they look like demonstrators and riot police charged and the crowd, dispersed, these undercover police officers grabbed the individual protesters, sometimes beat them with clubs and hold them until they're taken away by police.

Are all those actions are legal?

Is it legal for police to beat demonstrators? FRANK CHING, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Those questions are being raised in Hong Kong as well as to whether they are acting legally.

Carrie Lam held a press conference, was asked about these police operations and she refused to be drawn into the details. I think one problem is that the police are under a lot of pressure, both within Hong Kong, where they are accused of using excessive, force, police brutality, and then from China, where they would like to see more force, more repression.

And China wants the uprising in Hong Kong to be put down as quickly as possible, with force, with protesters serving long prison terms and the Hong Kong government and Hong Kong police are in the middle of that.

VAUSE: We also -- the situation with police, so-called minimal force they're using, on Sunday, crowd control measures, we saw a young woman shot in the face, she has reportedly lost her eyesight.

We are hearing stories of journalists being shot at. These are violent tactics being used. And using tear gas, which is what forced some people to head to the airport in the first place, because they thought it would be safe.

Many, turned up with gauze covering their eyes, symbolic protest for the woman who was shot in the face. If there is a belief that the airport is relatively safe in terms of the police and the protesters, it won't stay that way.

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CHING: I don't think they went to the airport mainly because they thought it was safer. They were very angry at the way that the police were treating the protesters, for instance the way this woman was shot. And they went to seek revenge. In the past, they've only been occupying the arrivals hall and told passengers about the situation and about how police are being brutal and putting down protesters.

But what happened yesterday was that they occupied the departure lounge as well so that departing flights could not take off and now we see a return to a semblance of normality.

But the protesters are scheduled to arrive at the airport again in one hour and we don't know what will happen then. This is, in a way, holding Hong Kong ransom. It's like blackmailing Hong Kong because the airport is not reliable. Then the Hong Kong economy will sink and I think nobody in Hong Kong wants to see that happen.

VAUSE: I wonder if the airport could be the pressure point that protesters could be looking for, it brings maximum disruption for minimal risk.

CHING: But I don't think that this can go on for very long. Even though a lot of people in Hong Kong support the protesters, that is, they sympathize with them, they don't think that Hong Kong should be blackmailed in this way. I doubt if the airport protests can be sustained, if most people in

Hong Kong, the business community, decide that this cannot go on in this fashion any longer. And next month September, the schools will reopen, a lot of the protesters will have to go back to school and then you will see the numbers drop rather significantly.

VAUSE: There is an editorial in the "Global Times," describing Hong Kong demonstrators as nothing more than street thugs who want Hong Kong to go to, hell, the toughest words yet. A spokesman said this.

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YANG GUANG, CHINESE GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN FOR HONG KONG (through translator): For days, the radical protesters in Hong Kong have frequently used extremely dangerous tools to assault the police officers. Their deeds constituted severe violent crimes and showed the tendency of turning to terrorism.

It is a blatant violation of Hong Kong's rule of law and social order, a severe threat to the safety of Hong Kong residents and a formidable challenge to Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. We must firmly tackle such violent crimes with a tough stance and no mercy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Then there's the video posted on Twitter, this was put out by the "People's Daily," showing police carrying out a drone, which is just across the border from Hong Kong. The theory right now is that all of this is an attempt to intimidate rather than a real preparation for any military action.

Neither side is talking to the other, how do they find an off ramp and avoid a major confrontation?

CHING: It's a very difficult situation. One of the problems is that the Carrie Lam government does not have connections to people outside of the pro-government camp. In the past, even her predecessor had people within the cabinet who had connections with the pan-democratic camp and was able to establish contact and communication.

Now with the Carrie Lam government, they have no contact with people outside of their own camp. And it's almost impossible to have talks going on below the horizon that people do not know about. I don't think there are such talks and I don't think that there is any indication that Carrie Lam is interested in these kind of talks.

At this point, I think that she is an increasingly difficult position because China is putting pressure on her to resolve the problem. And she has no instruments to resolve the problem, other than using force, police force.

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CHING: I think that China is increasingly becoming impatient. They have been a backseat driver, telling the Hong Kong government what to do and -- [00:15:00]

CHING: -- I think they are having to climb into the driver's seat by holding these regular weekly press conferences and commenting directly on what is going on in Hong Kong and what the police should, what the government to do, what the protesters should do.

VAUSE: And it keeps getting more violent and more violent as it goes on. Frank Ching, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

CHING: Thank you.

VAUSE: A short, break. When we come, back an angry demand for answers from the U.S. attorney general. More questions about the death about Jeffrey Epstein.

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VAUSE: Well, according to police the suspect in an Oslo mosque shooting planned to film his attack on a GoPro camera, he was so battered and bruised with two black eyes when he appeared in court Monday. Witnesses say that a 65-year-old member of the mosque overpowered and disarmed him.

One person was hurt and police believe the suspect killed his stepsister and then went to the mosque. He's facing charges of murder and terrorism.

There is a growing demand for answers into the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, investigators want to know why was he was not monitored in his cell as prison rules require. Athena Jones has the report.

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ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Growing questions and investigations announced after sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein died from an apparent suicide over the weekend in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was appalled and indeed the whole department was and frankly angry to learn of the MCC's failure to adequately secure this prisoner.

JONES (voice-over): Attorney general William Barr blasting the federal jail for what he called "serious irregularities that are deeply concerning,"

Barr promising the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice inspector general would get to the bottom of what happened,

The multimillionaire financier was found unresponsive in his cell Saturday morning and later pronounced at a local hospital, the New York medical examiner conducted an autopsy but has not determined the cause of death, pending further information,

Epstein had been held in the federal jail since early July, when he pleaded not guilty on charges for running a sex trafficking ring of underage girls, some as young as 14.

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JONES (voice-over): He was placed briefly on suicide watch after he was found in his cell with marks on his neck. But he was taken off the suicide watch at the end of July. According to protocol from the special housing unit where he was kept, guards are supposed to check on inmates every 30 minutes. But Epstein's cell was not regularly the night before he was found dead.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Was it just a matter of incompetence?

Indifference?

Or was there something more nefarious?

JONES (voice-over): This apparent suicide comes less than 24 hours after over 1,000 pages of documents containing more disturbing sex trafficking allegations against Epstein were unsealed in a related lawsuit one of its alleged victims failed against one of the associates.

As for the accusers now robbed of a chance to face him in a court of law, Barr says this is not over.

BARR: But let me assure you, that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy. The victims deserve justice and they will get it.

JONES (voice-over): Athena Jones, CNN, New York.

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VAUSE: Well, aside from questions about prison protocols and Epstein's death spawned conspiracy theories, Donald Trump spread one of the things with the retweet from a conservative comedian who alleged with no evidence whatsoever that there was involvement by Bill and Hillary Clinton, for more on this we have Michael Genovese joining us from Los Angeles,

Michael, good to see you.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, John.

VAUSE: It's very tough knowing the right way to cover this story because even when the conspiracy theories are debunked, studies show more exposure to it is enough to shift someone's point of view without them being aware of that, I know that is the case with the death of Princess Diana, for instance.

So the president's tweet, it's part of the process to prove it not true were actually helping Trump spread up late in falsehoods, so how do you deal with this?

GENOVESE: There are suspicious circumstances and they need to be investigated. But you don't start with a conclusion or a conspiracy, you start by looking at the evidence and building the case to find what happened.

But in the case of President Trump this is strange, bizarre and disturbing even by President Trump standards, by trying to link, even to link in a retweet that the Clintons had something to do with this is beneath the dignity of the office and the person.

The president is so obsessed with the Obamas and the Clinton that he just goes way over the top and does things that are unreasonable and just plain strange. And you wonder why he is obsessed with this and why he keeps doing, it he can't seem to stop himself.

VAUSE: Donald Trump and many of his supporters don't believe climate change is real they call it a hoax, the Russian investigation is both a witch hunt and a hoax, white nationalism is a hoax.

But somehow Bill and Hillary Clinton and the network of assassins can reach from anywhere in the world and no matter who they are or where they are, and get them killed, they're willing to believe that?

GENOVESE: Well, you know it's really good topic for a Robert Ludlum novel, too bad he's not around because Bill Clinton must be a superhero with superstar status and powers to be able to do all these incredible things,

He and Obama and Hillary must be the most amazing superheroes that have yet to have a movie made about them, I don't know where this comes from with the president.

But he can't let it go and the more he does it, the more embarrassing it should be to him but his followers seems to follow it ad say, well I guess there must be some truth to it because the president said so.

VAUSE: It's tough maybe not pleasant or convenient with the Russian investigation it's just dismissed as not being true but stuff out there in La-La Lunatic Land, that is accepted as fact, Hillary Clinton running a pedophile sex ring out of the basement of a pizzeria.

GENOVESE: Trump's words have meaning and importance because that comment pizza establishment, people went in there looking for Hillary and they went down there to do damage.

And the president's words matter because the El Paso killer used the president's own words about invasion, wanting to kill Mexicans and he got that from the president. So these are not just insignificant things say via TV game show host. This is said by the president of the United States, words spread and people take them seriously.

And a lot of unhinged people out there take these words to heart and think they are a call to action.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to Kellyanne Conway putting words in the president's mouth.

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KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: I think the president wants everything to be investigated and trying to connect the president to this monster from years ago where they are seen dancing in the video versus other people who are actively I suppose flying around with the monster on --

[00:25:00]

CONWAY: -- his island which was known as Pedophilia Island. Perhaps there's a public interest to knowing more about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: If you wanted everything to be investigated then perhaps he should have said they wanted everything to be investigated and not sent out that retweet but we know the drill by now, the Clintons involved in the death, and deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, that Barack Obama was not born here and Senator Ted Cruz's father were involved in the assassination of JFK. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was involved in an intern's death, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered, somebody was trying to oust Trump as president and vaccines can cause autism, all of this put out there by the president.

He says tweets or retweets on these allegations at leaves those around him to clean up at best.

But how much damage is being done by Trump's enablers?

GENOVESE: Kellyanne said that he only wants things to be investigated. Also do I, let's get the president's tax returns and we can really investigate everything, he wants to distract attention away from things, it's almost a game to him, he seems to think he can say anything and accuse anyone of anything with impunity.

And some of these things can lead to tragic consequences, people will believe some other things because number one he's the president, number two they may be loyal followers of his ideology or his party.

So the president's irresponsibility in spouting conspiracy theories from the birther movement down to the Clintons and the Epstein murder, it is so beneath the dignity of the office and the person and to think that he represents the United States of America and he's spitting out conspiracy theories like they're candy.

This is just a strange personality quirk but it is a personality quirk that matters and has meaning because people follow him and take these things very seriously, sometimes to tragic consequences.

VAUSE: What sorted out is a whisper and the actions he's taken, described being racist, it's a tag that is being attached to President Trump. And "The Washington Post" said he considers himself a branding wizard but he is vexed by a branding crisis of his own, how to shed the label of racist because as Donald Trump will tell you...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.

I'm the least racist person there is in the world as far as I'm concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: What's noteworthy about this is the president seems concerned about being labeled a racist as opposed to the consequences of his actions and his words, which are racist.

GENOVESE: Well, his words are racist and I'm not accusing him of being a racist but if he is not, he does a great impersonation of one, so what you are seeing here is the master brander, Little Marco Rubio, Lyin' Ted, the master brander is being branded and he doesn't like it. Never kid a kidder? Well never brand a brander and so he is the victim now.

He is usually in command, he's the hammer that knocks people over the head. Now he's being knocked over the head, he can't fake this brand. And he can't shake it because he feeds too much material into it.

It is so believable because the president has made it believable by his repeated racist statements. Again I'm not accusing the president of being a racist but I will say that it is very clear, he says a number of racist things.

VAUSE: Interesting way to end, Michael, you have a good, point I leave it there, thank you very much.

GENOVESE: Thank you. John.

VAUSE: A short break, when we come back a CNN exclusive, Putin's private army, officially it does not exist but it does and it's fighting on three continents.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. Thank you for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

[00:31:14] Protests have led to more disruptions at Hong Kong's airport. Hundreds of flights were canceled Monday after demonstrators stormed the main terminal. Some rallies over the weekend turned into violent clashes with police.

One mainland official accuses demonstrators of showing signs of terrorism.

The U.S. attorney general says he's been left appalled and angry over the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. William Barr says the accused sex trafficker's death at a New York jail has revealed serious irregularities at the facility. But also warned coconspirators in the case should not rest easy, as the criminal investigation will continue.

Questions surrounding an explosion in one of Russia's closed (ph) cities continues to go unanswered. Five employees at the state nuclear company died in a mysterious blast last week, and all Russia will say is the country is mourning the loss of life.

Our man in Moscow, Fred Pleitgen, reports there are concerns the explosion may be larger than previously thought.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There still is a lot that is unclear about what actually took place when that explosion happened in the Arctic north of Russia, and whether or not radiation was actually released after that explosion took place.

Now, the Russians have acknowledged that they were testing some sort of missile, some sort of engine for a missile when that explosion took place. The official version is that liquid propellant, liquid fuel apparently caught fire and then led to that explosion.

Now, the Russians are now acknowledging that five workers for their state-run atomic energy agency were actually killed in that blast. But whether or not there were any sort of radioactive elements that were present is simply something that we do not know at this point.

Now, there are certain things that seem to be quite odd, as far as the messaging is concerned, over the past couple of days. At first, the local authorities in that area said that they had measured a spike in radiation over a short period of time.

However, their statement was then later deleted, and the defense ministry originally said that no spike in radiation had been registered. Now, of course, the big question is what could the Russians have been testing there? So far they haven't said.

One of the things, however, that Vladimir Putin has claimed in the past is he said in March of 2018 that the Russians were working on developing nuclear-propulsed, nuclear-powered cruise missiles.

So they don't only have a nuclear warhead. They're also powered by nuclear energy. The Russians are saying that these missiles potentially could fly an indefinite amount of time and also evade American missile defense systems.

Now, whether or not the test of one of these missiles may have gone wrong in that area is absolutely unclear. So far, there is no official statement from the Kremlin as to what exactly went wrong.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.

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VAUSE: A CNN exclusive now exposing a secret private army doing Putin's bidding around the world. CNN has learned the reach of the shadowy fighting forces is expanding, apparently led by the Putin ally linked to U.S. election interference. Here's our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.

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CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Oleg. For years, he says he worked as a hired gun in Syria for a shadowy Russian mercenary group called Wagner that has become a valuable tool for the Kremlin.

OLEG (through translator): Wagner is Putin's instrument for resolving issues by force, when action has to be taken immediately, urgently, and in the most concealed way possible. I cannot say it's an army in the proper sense of that word. It's just a fighting unit that will do anything that Putin says.

WARD: This is the first time a former Wagner employee has agreed to speak on camera, and Oleg asked us to disguise his identity.

Private military contractors are illegal in Russia. Officially, Wagner doesn't exist, but CNN has discovered that the group now has hundreds of fighters operating on three different continents, and this is the man believed to be behind that expansion. Dubbed Putin's chef because of lucrative catering contracts with the Kremlin, Yevgeny Prigozhin is also sanctioned by the U.S. for funding the Internet Research Agency accused of meddling in the 2016 election.

OLEG (through translator): I'm a mercenary, and 90 percent of participants of the company were like me, and they were motivated by money.

WARD (on camera): What sort of training was it? Where did it take place?

OLEG (through translator): You know, I didn't have any training, as such, not then anyway. I spent six days in the training camp in Molkino. I went to a firing range twice and shot a machine gun once. That was it.

WARD (voice-over): CNN travelled to the remote Russian village of Molkino to try to get to Wagner's training camp and found that the group has a surprisingly close relationship with the Russian military.

(on camera): The only way to get into the Wagner barracks is to get through that checkpoint, which is manned by the Russian military. Because this actually belongs to a Russian special forces unit.

(voice-over): Not far from Molkino, there's a monument to fallen Wagner fighters. Visitors are not welcome, so we approached with a hidden camera.

(on camera): It looks less like a memorial than a fortress.

(voice-over): A guard soon comes up to us. "Is the church only for Wagner?" I ask. "I don't know for whom," he says.

"For the people who were in Syria?" I press him.

"I don't know, I'm telling you," he says. "I'm just guarding here." He begins to get suspicious of our questions, and we decide to leave.

(on camera): Yes. Let's go.

They didn't let us inside, which is not surprising, because in the compound is the only tangible, visible proof that Wagner is real.

(voice-over): No surprise perhaps that the monument is funded by a Prigozhin-owned company.

It was five years ago in Crimea that mysterious, unidentified fighters, dubbed "little green men," helped Moscow wrest the province from Ukraine, even as the Kremlin feigned ignorance. It was a success, and Moscow's use of mercenary forces has since grown. Analysts say none of this could happen without Putin's approval.

(on camera): Do you think that part of the mission of Wagner is to help Russia restore its role to become a major global superpower again?

OLEG (through translator): Yes, 100 percent. This is the top priority for Wagner.

WARD: And so it's trying to be a rival to America?

OLEG (through translator): Russia is trying to suppress the U.S. in every way possible, using legal and illegal means. It's trying to smash it, get the better of it somehow. What will come of it as a result? Nothing good, I think.

WARD (voice-over): But for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wagner is still a worthwhile gamble, an expendable fighting force with no accountability.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Molkino, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: CNN attempted to contact Yevgeny Prigozhin. His lawyers, though, did not respond. We also tried to contact Wagner, but because officially it doesn't actually exist, it has no address, no phone number, no website. And we asked the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment, but no response.

Clarissa's team is investigating Russia's advances into the African continent, as well, particularly in the Central African Republic. There, her team visited a camp run by Russian mercenaries, arming and training the national army. They also went to a shadowy Russian- controlled mine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WARD: We are on our way to one of seven sites where a Russian company

has been given exploration rights.

One of the challenges of trying to nail down exactly what the Russians are doing here is that once you get outside the capital, this is still a very dangerous and chaotic country. And just last year three Russian journalists were actually ambushed and killed while working on a story about Russian mercenaries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You can watch Clarissa's full report on Russia's activities inside the Central African Republic Tuesday, 6 p.m. in New York, 11 p.m. in London. You will see it only here on CNN. And we will take a short break. When we come back, a lot more news, after a very short break.

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[00:41:45] VAUSE: Two new Ebola treatments are showing promising results in the fight against the disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Experimental drug tests began in November, part of an emergency response to an outbreak in two provinces.

The treatments were developed using antibodies harvested from Ebola survivors.

The current outbreak is the second largest in history, killing at least 1,800 people.

Well, today on global climate studies and bad news, the American Meteorological Study has released a new report looking at environmental changes in 2018, and it is grim.

Dominant greenhouse gases hit record levels last year, and their warming power is now 43 percent stronger than 1990. 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record, and yes, the three years preceding 2018 took the other top spots.

Sea levels rose for the seventh straight year. Glaciers continue to mount at an alarming rate. There you go.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. CNN WORLD SPORT starts after the break.

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[00:59:39] VAUSE: Hello, everybody.

Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. Ahead this hour on CNN NEWSROOM, to the brink of no return. Hong Kong's chief executive warns weeks of increasingly violent protests must end as pro-democracy demonstrators stage an airport sit-in for a fifth day, causing dozens of flights to be canceled and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

The conspiracy theorist in chief. How Donald Trump is using the world's biggest megaphone to undermine a belief in truth itself. And from high-end designers to international airlines, a growing number of multinational companies are running.

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