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ICC Chief Prosecutor On Arrest Warrants For Putin And Russian Official: "These Crimes Have Not Been Hidden"; ICC Arrest Warrants Issued For Putin And Top Kremlin Official For Alleged Deportation Of Ukrainian Children; Ukrainian Mother Of Three Olena Gnes On ICC Warrants For Putin And Russian Official: "Better Later Than Never". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 17, 2023 - 21:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: John Berman, here, in for Anderson.

And this is a special live coverage, of today's historic decision, by the International Criminal Court, to issue arrest warrants, on war crimes charges, for Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his deputy, who runs Russia's program, of taking children, from Ukraine, thousands of them, to Russia, for indoctrination and, in some cases, adoption, by Russian families.

Today, CNN's Clarissa Ward got this exclusive interview, with Karim Khan, the ICC's Chief Prosecutor. She joins us, from The Hague.

CNN's Matthew Chance is moderating Russian reaction. He joins us, as well as, CNN's Ivan Watson, from Ukraine. This is a story that he and 360 have been reporting on extensively.

We start things off, with Clarissa Ward, and her interview, at The Hague.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, well, Karim Khan was keen to tell us that this is really just the first step, in what promises to be a long journey.

The arrest warrants that were given out, today, for President Putin and also, for the Russia High Commissioner for Children, Maria Lvova- Belova, these are just the first two, essentially. There may be more coming. There may be other areas that they will be exploring. There is no shortage of alleged war crimes that have taken place, in Ukraine.

The prosecutor's office, here, from the ICC, have made multiple trips, to Ukraine. But they were keen, really, to stress the importance of this historic day. Take a look.


WARD: There are many different war crimes, or potential war crimes, that we've seen, playing out, in Ukraine, whether it's the bombing of the theater, in Mariupol, where people were sheltering, civilians were sheltering, whether it's the atrocities of Bucha.

Why did you decide to pursue this line of prosecution, first?

KARIM ASAD AHMAD KHAN, CHIEF PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: Well you're absolutely right, firstly, I stated, when I was outside St. Andrew's church, in Bucha, about a year ago, just less than a year ago, that Ukraine is a crime scene. And there's many terrible allegations that have been received, and we're analyzing them, and reviewing them.

But before my election, as prosecutor, before I started in June of 2021, I also identified crimes against all, crimes affecting children, are under-investigated and under-reported. And this is why, when you look at the factual matrix, the actual evidence that we received, it was only right and appropriate, to focus on the most vulnerable parts of our society, which are children.

WARD: We understand that Ms. Lvova-Belova is the Russian Commissioner for Children. She's been very vocal and visible in her role. How did you take the next step, also, in terms of pushing, for the prosecution, of President Putin himself? And how unusual is that?

ASAD AHMAD KHAN: Well, I've said repeatedly over the last year that we don't start with targets. We start with the evidence. We investigate incriminating and exonerating evidence equally. We want to find the truth. We are statutorily required to get to the truth. And we, as I've said, started looking at a range of, a wide spectrum of allegations.

But the evidence was quite clear, because of what has been said, publicly, from those individuals, what has become available, from publicly-available sources, and also the result of our direct investigations, ourselves, cooperation with other states, and also Ukraine, that these crimes appear to have been committed. And one follows the evidence. And the simple reality is these crimes have not been hidden.

It's the first time in history, any head of state of the permanent members of - the five permanent members of the Security Council has had a warrant of arrest issued, by independent and impartial judges. It shouldn't give us any celebration. It's a matter of real regret that we've had to do this. The evidence compelled us to move in this manner.

WARD: It's a historic moment, certainly. But will we ever see President Putin in the dock?

ASAD AHMAD KHAN: Well, the President of the Court made it very clear, our job is to independently and impartially, without any political motivations or agendas, look at - apply the law to the facts, the facts that have been verified that have been independently collected, and rigorously analyzed. Now, it's for others to decide whether or not arrest opportunities are available, and if so to enforce them.

The first is many thought it was impossible, that powerful leaders like former President Milosevic, former President Charles Taylor, Karadzic, Mladic, Jean Kambanda of Rwanda, Khieu Samphan of Cambodia, the list goes on, Hissene Habre would ever be subjected to the rule of law. And yet, they were. Some of them are in custody.


BERMAN: And Clarissa Ward is back with us.


Clarissa, no expectation, obviously, that, Vladimir Putin would surrender, or be arrested.

So, did the ICC give you a sense of how it intends to proceed legally?

WARD: Well, that's the question, really, John, because the ICC can't trial - can't have a trial, of someone in absentia.

But what they can do, according to prosecutor Khan, and again, this hasn't been done historically, but there is legal precedent for it, is what they call a confirmation hearing in absence. And that would essentially allow, for the evidence to be preserved, in a judicial setting, in a timely way, paving the way, for some potential future trial.

What they have seen traditionally, the ICC, is that very rarely do people charged with war crimes, actually come to face justice, until those wars have reached an end. And whichever side is victorious gets to choose, who ends up facing trial, at the ICC.

So, what they want to do, at least with this possibility, of the confirmation hearing, is ensure that that evidence is put out there, in a timely manner that victims of these alleged atrocities are able to still have their day in court, even if it might be quite some time, before you would potentially see President Vladimir Putin, appearing on trial. Though, I think, for the moment that does seem like a very distant prospect, John.

BERMAN: Clarissa, stay with us.

I want to bring in Matthew Chance and Ivan Watson.

Ivan, what has the reaction been, from the Ukrainian government, to these arrest warrants?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, the Ukrainian government has been applauding this decision, the arrest warrant, issued by the International Criminal Court.

According to government statistics, they say that some 16,226 Ukrainian children, the government believes, have been taken, and deported to Russia, since the start of the Russian invasion, a bit more than a year ago. Take a listen to what the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, had to say about this, which he calls an historic decision.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Separating children, from their families? Depriving them of any opportunity, to contact their relatives? Hiding children, in Russia, dispersing them, to remote regions? All this is obvious Russian state policy, state decisions, and state evil, which begins with the first official of the state.


WATSON: So, another top Ukrainian official has just called this a first step.

Meanwhile, the top prosecutor, in the country, he says that he hopes that this will make other world leaders think twice, about, in the future, shaking hands, with Vladimir Putin, or sitting down, at the negotiating table, with him, now that he's effectively become a suspected war criminal.

While the ICC move is important, it's also important, I think, to understand that the Ukrainian judicial system, that police here, on the ground, that investigators and prosecutors that they are also separately, actively, gathering evidence, for their own cases, to accuse Russian military commanders, and individual Russian soldiers, of alleged war crimes.

That after every kind of rocket strike, or artillery strike, on a Ukrainian city or town, after every death of a civilian, you have police coming in later, if it's at all safe, in an area, gathering evidence, and putting their own cases, together, to try to prosecute Russian military units.

We're probably going to see more of this coming, from just the Ukrainian judicial system, in the months and years ahead.

BERMAN: So Matthew, the Kremlin has called these warrants, "Outrageous." But do they actually deny what the warrants accuse?


You're right. They say it's outrageous, and unacceptable that these indictments have been made.

But they're actually quite boastful, of the fact that these, what the Ukrainian leadership calls these, these forceful deportations, are taking place, because they cast it inside Russia, as a humanitarian act.

What they regard it as, is Russia, rescuing orphans, who have essentially been abandoned, inside the war zone, and then embracing them, into the bosom of Mother Russia, as it were, and actually talking quite a lot, on Russian television, within the past few days and weeks, about how some of them have been adopted.

Maria Lvova-Belova herself is said to have adopted a 15-year-old, from the City of Mariupol.


She's also spoken about how they've been re-educated, how, many of them said, negative things, about Russia, and sang the Ukrainian national anthem, when they were first taken, into Russian custody. But now, they don't do that anymore, and they speak much more positively, apparently, she says, about Russia.

And so, this is how Russia and its officials describe these alleged crimes that President Putin has been indicted for.

In all this, remember, as these children, thousands of them have parents, in many cases that are still alive, inside Ukraine, and desperately trying to get their loved ones back.

BERMAN: Clarissa, I think one of the most interesting parts of your discussion, with the prosecutor, from the ICC, was about the timing, here. These warrants are coming out, while the conflict is still going on. How unusual is that?

WARD: It's highly unusual. And it was interesting to hear Karim Khan, was even critical of the ICC and said, "In the past, we've been too pedestrian," to use his word. "We need to accelerate. There needs to be a sense that the wheels of justice turn in a timely manner."

And so, as opposed to traditionally, where we might be talking about years, after a conflict has ended, within a month of the Russian invasion, Khan and his team were already beginning, their investigations. And just over a year, after the war began, you have the first two arrest warrants being issued.

And the idea is that this will continue apace now that you will see more arrest warrants, potentially, more investigations, as all the different allegations that have been made, are researched.

Now, obviously, this takes a huge amount of resources, John, right? There is no shortage of war crimes, as we've mentioned before, taking place, in Ukraine. In fact, to use Khan's own words, he said, "Ukraine is basically a crime scene."

And so, there's now an inordinate amount of work that needs to be done, to go, to try to verify, and to build up solid cases, in this instance, and in future investigations taking place.

BERMAN: Clarissa Ward, we're going to have more of your interview, coming up.

Ivan Watson, Matthew Chance, our thanks, to both of you.

Next, more on the woman, we've been talking about, and the program, she runs, bringing Ukrainian children, to Russia, and erasing their Ukrainian identity. And later, my conversation, with Olena Gnes, who 360 - whom 360 viewers got to know, in the early days of the war, sheltering with her children, in Kyiv. She is now, here, in the United States. And we spoke about today's arrest warrants. Her thoughts ahead, on 360.



BERMAN: We want to tell you more, about the lesser known, of the two individuals, there, on your screen, the one with a job title that in this context is just chilling.


BERMAN: She is Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights. You heard that right! The woman heading up, and even boasting about an operation, that has already documented, to be violating the rights of Ukrainian children.

More from CNN's Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She claims to be the savior of Ukrainian children.

MARIA LVOVA-BELOVA, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSIONER FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS (through translator): Mothers of many children, we are like this.

BELL (voice-over): Demure, devout, and devoted, she says to welcoming orphaned or abandoned children of war, to the motherland.

LVOVA-BELOVA (through translator): Welcome to Moscow!

BELL (voice-over): But this is no humanitarian adoption program. Russia's Children's Rights Commissioner is in fact in charge of something far more sinister.

According to American and European governments, and to a report, by Yale University, thousands of children have been forcibly deported to Russia. Although Moscow denies it's doing this against their will, some have been taken thousands of miles, and several time zones, away from Ukraine.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, YALE HUMANITARIAN RESEARCH LAB: Maria Lvova-Belova is basically the point-person, at the Kremlin level, for this entire program.

BELL (on camera): And so these children are essentially being held hostage?

RAYMOND: Yes. BELL (voice-over): The woman in charge is herself a 38-year-old mother, of at least 10, including five adopted children. And her work takes her all the way into the occupied territories.

LVOVA-BELOVA (through translator): This time, we came to Mariupol itself. We will do everything, for the children, and teenagers, who are here.

BELL (voice-over): From Lvova-Belova's Telegram channel, to Russian propaganda videos, the deportations are no secret. Yet, the children are totally beyond the reach, of either their families, or Ukrainian authorities.

ALYONA LUNYOVA, ADVOCACY DIRECTOR, ZMINA HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE: Some of those children are really small. We see, on the propaganda video, of Russian that you know, seven - seven, six months, you know, four years, those children just do not remember, where they're from, who are their parents.


BELL (voice-over): And once across the border, there is no contact anyway. Some are adopted by Russian families. Others are taken to what are built as summer camps, in fact, reeducation centers, aimed at turning Ukrainian children, into Russian citizens.

LVOVA-BELOVA (through translator): Unfortunately, we see that these children were brought up, in a completely different culture, and they did not watch the same films, our children watched. They did not study history, as our children did.

BELL (voice-over): But Ukrainian lawyers, fighting for the return of the children, fear that those already adopted, may be lost for good.

KATERYNA RASHEVSKA, UKRAINIAN LAWYER: During this process of adoption, parents can change all personal data, names, surnames, date of birth. And they think that some children were transferred to Russia without documents.

BELL (voice-over): Among those already adopted, is a young boy, from Mariupol, by Maria Lvova-Belova, herself. At first, she says, "He sang the Ukrainian national anthem. Now, he's a good boy," as she told Vladimir Putin, himself.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Did you adopt a child, from Mariupol, yourself?

LVOVA-BELOVA (through translator): Yes, and thanks to you. 15-years- old. Now I know what it means, to be a mother, of a child, from Donbas. It's difficult, but we definitely love each other.

BELL (voice-over): Melissa Bell, CNN.


BERMAN: And joining us now is Nathaniel Raymond, whom you saw a moment ago, in Melissa Bell's report. He's Executive Director of Yale University's Humanitarian Research Lab.


You've worked on this project, for a long time. Your report was responsible, for shining a light, on so much of what's been going on, in Ukraine. So, what does this moment mean for you?

RAYMOND: Well John, on one hand, I'm still in shock, from the announcement of the indictments, this morning, by the ICC, which is a critical first step, but only a first step, towards justice, for the people of Ukraine.

On the other hand, I'm thinking about the parents, tonight, of the children, who have yet to come home, and some may not come home.

And so, on one hand, I feel hope, because of today's indictment. On the other hand, I feel the urgency of trying to get these kids back.

BERMAN: You mentioned that you're still sort of in shock. Did you have any idea this was coming?

RAYMOND: The only thing I knew is what I read in "The New York Times" a few days ago. And, at that point, we thought it could happen.

And then, this morning, I was walking my dogs, and my phone went berserk. And suddenly, it had happened. And so, since that point, it's really been an effort to get our heads around the fact that what we've been working on is now the subject of an ICC indictment.

BERMAN: So, Maria Lvova-Belova, who we saw--


BERMAN: --in that piece, right there? She called the ICC warrant against her, "Great."


BERMAN: What's your view of her? Who is this woman, in your mind?

RAYMOND: Maria Lvova-Belova is basically the center of the command and control, of a synchronized, coordinated whole-of-government operation that has two major parts to it. One is the reeducation camps, you mentioned, and the other is forced adoption.

And you have to understand that this network, and it is a network of camps, stretches, as the graphic showed, 3,500 miles, from the Black Sea, to the Pacific, and involves more than 43 facilities. We think that number is significantly higher.

BERMAN: She sounded proud.

RAYMOND: She is proud.

BERMAN: Today, though.

So do you think that the warrants, this historic moment?


BERMAN: Do you think it will do anything to deter her or slow her down?

RAYMOND: Every moment that the Russians have faced the possibility of accountability, for this program, they've doubled down.

In that video you played, there's another clip, after it, where they talk about a military training facility, for 14-year-old to 17-year- old boys, in Chechnya. And they say, this is 48 hours after our report comes out, they say, "The pilot program has been a success. Let's expand it by 2,000 Russian and Ukrainian boys."

And so, the point is, they are probably going to at every turn, try to show that they are undeterred. But today, the international community showed that we are also undeterred.

BERMAN: What do you want to see happen, to Vladimir Putin, and Maria Lvova-Belova?

RAYMOND: One word. Handcuffs!

BERMAN: What do you think the future is, for those Ukrainian children, who are already in Russia?

RAYMOND: I've worked, on efforts, to identify, through DNA testing, children, in Guatemala, who were separated, from their parents, during civil wars, in the 80s. That process took decades. I don't want to see that here.

But we're in, as emergency medicine surgeons, call, "The Golden Hour." And that Golden Hour is fast slipping away, John, where if we don't get them back, now, we're going to be talking about DNA identification, and processes that will take decades. So, we have to act now, because time is ticking.

BERMAN: This type of human rights work that you do?


BERMAN: Can be thankless. I mean, you can get no results, for years, on certain things. Years!

RAYMOND: Like Ted Williams said about baseball, you fail 60 percent, 70 percent of the time for doing your job right.

BERMAN: And so, this is history, today, in your mind?

RAYMOND: Absolutely. This is the moment, where the dog caught the postal truck. And this usually doesn't happen. Now, the fact is, is that we have to take this moment, which validates the anguish, of the people of Ukraine, and those parents, and then turn it into "OK, what's next?"

BERMAN: You got to make it count. Those kids need it.

Nathaniel Raymond, thank you for the work that you do. And thank you for being with us tonight.

RAYMOND: Thank you for telling the story, John.

BERMAN: Coming up, more from Clarissa Ward's exclusive interview, with ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, including whether he thinks he will ever see Putin taken into custody, in handcuffs, as Nathaniel just said, and what may be coming next, in the ICC's investigations.



BERMAN: We continue our look, tonight, at the historic arrest warrants, handed down, by the International Criminal Court, for Vladimir Putin, and a top Russian official.

Now, with more of Clarissa Ward's exclusive conversation, with the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, and why the ICC decided first, to focus on the kidnapping of Ukrainian children, as well as what charges may be coming next.


WARD: Under the Rome Statute, the forced deportation, of children, is also listed, as a component, of genocide, potentially.

Now, the arrest warrants, today, are for war crimes. I wonder, how did you decide, whether to pursue war crimes, versus crimes against humanity, versus genocide, for example.

ASAD AHMAD KHAN: Yes. So, we're still at an early stage, of the investigations. We are continuing to look at all the allegations that we have received, that we are uncovering, and we will make the necessary applications, to the judges, if and when the evidence fulfills those requirements.

So, the fact that today, the judges of the International Criminal Court, pursuant to their statutory responsibilities, have decided to issue the two warrants that have been mentioned, doesn't mean that's it.

We will keep on going, to the best of our ability, to ensure that the many other crimes, the many other allegations that seem to have been committed are uncovered.

WARD: So, is it fair to say, this is essentially just the first step, and there are multiple other investigations, into potential war crimes, in Ukraine that your office will be looking into?

ASAD AHMAD KHAN: Yes. So, I think it's very clear that it's an ongoing theater battle. And war is not illegal, but law - the war has certain constraints. There's not an unlicensed - there's not a free license to commit every type of atrocity. You can't rape. You can't attack civilian objects. You can't attack civilians. You can't execute people that have laid down their arms. These are the basic principles that have been well- understood by all sides.


WARD: You've obviously worked, in international law, for a long time. You've spent, quite some time, on the ground, in Ukraine. How does Ukraine compare? Not that one can make these types of comparisons. But are you struck by what you see, in Ukraine, in terms of the levels of violence or potential war crimes?

ASAD AHMAD KHAN: You're quite right. I've had the privilege of seeing the heroism of victims and survivors, in so many parts of the world. And I don't have a league table, of course. But what we see, in parts of Ukraine have been seen, by different people, of different cultures, and different languages.

I was also leading the team, investigating crimes, by Daesh, in Mosul. We've seen the Balkans. I was a junior prosecutor, many decades ago, with the Rwandan Tribunal, as well as Yugoslav Tribunal, and Cambodia.

So, you know very well about the banality of evil, and you also know very well about the kind of crimes that have afflicted humanity, from time immemorial, but also since the Holocaust.

And unfortunately, despite the promises of never-again, and despite the publicity, the understanding that the law is out there, there is this still a very prevalent proclivity, of people, with power, to believe that they can subject weaker people, to that power, and do what they want.


BERMAN: Back with us now, Clarissa Ward.

Also joining us, Garry Kasparov, Russian pro-democracy leader, and Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation. He's also the Author of "Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped."

Garry, you've been a longtime critic, of Vladimir Putin. So, what is your reaction, to these arrest warrants, today?

GARRY KASPAROV, RUSSIAN PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADER, CHAIRMAN, THE HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION, AUTHOR, "WINTER IS COMING," TWITTER: @KASPAROV63: It's a great joy. It's very important first step, as we heard today, because this war, and the crimes, committed by Russian troops, on the Ukrainian soil, is quite unique.

We saw many genocides before. But we learned of them afterwards. Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, we didn't see them live. Yes, we had to accumulate evidence, and then recognize the horrors of these crimes. These crimes committed virtually online. And I think that what's happened, today. It's a very strong message, for Russians, for Russian elites, that there is no way back. It's no one is going to close their eyes, and sort of turn a blind eye, on these crimes.

And somehow, I think, Putin probably was shocked, because he's spilled rivers of blood. But now he's being charged with kidnapping. It's like Al Capone, being charged with tax evasion, because they could actually get him, on tax evasion.

And it's not being mentioned. But Putin bragged about this crime, kidnapping kids, on television. Actually, they recorded it, so which gets you - it's you don't even have to prove it.

Because, you have Putin's personal confession, about the program that he authorized, and his subordinate, the so-called Commissioner on Children's Rights, she has been executing the program, which by the way, was a part of Putin's long-term strategy, of destroying Ukrainian statehood, and eradicating Ukrainians, as a nation.

It's not me saying. Putin said it many times. And it has been repeated by Russian propaganda. That's the goal of the war. No matter what DeSantis talked about, about territorial dispute, this is a genocidal war that has been planning, for a long time.

BERMAN: Stealing children, bragging about stealing children, they both have. We just played some of that before. That is what he is charged with.

But, as you heard, in Clarissa's piece there, there may be other charges. Do you expect and hope that there will be?

KASPAROV: Well, absolutely, absolutely. This is the first one just because we actually could see him on television, saying about that. Other charges, you have to connect directly to Putin. But this one, again, you have his personal confession.

I think it's every prosecutor could dream about personal confession, recorded by major TV station. But I hope it's just, as they have been saying, first step, because crimes are endless there. And it's not just war crimes. It's a genocide.

And actually, Europe is ahead of America because part of this program is not only to convict these criminals, and by issuing warrants, as a first step, but also to remove the state immunity, from Russian frozen funds.

Europe is working now very aggressively, to confiscate hundreds of billions of dollars, of frozen funds, to pay Ukraine, for reconstruction. It doesn't have to be paid by American taxpayers, or German taxpayers, or French taxpayers. There's money, stolen by Putin's cronies, from Russia, and kept abroad that could be actually transferred, to Ukraine.

[21:35:00] BERMAN: So Clarissa, we talk about the idea of other possible charges, and you did, with Karim Khan, right there. Any sense of what other evidence they're collecting, at this point, to try to make those other charges?

WARD: Well, I think, perhaps understandably, John, they're being a little bit circumspect, about giving any details, about ongoing investigations. But what Karim Khan did say is that essentially, Ukraine is a crime scene, right now.

And whether it's the massacre of Bucha, whether it's some of the atrocities that we've seen, in Mariupol, where civilians, taking shelter, in a theater, were killed, in the hundreds, by airstrikes, where a maternity hospital, was also bombed. There are multiple avenues that they can pursue.

Now, obviously, there's always the constraint of time and resources. Because what I do think prosecutor Khan feels, very intensely is the pressure of getting it right. If you're going to build the case, it's got to be rock-solid. It's got to be iron-clad.

And that's, as you just heard, Mr. Kasparov, kind of elucidating there, why it was important, to start with this forced deportation, of Ukrainian children, is because this was done flagrantly, basically, vocally, by the Russian state, by Vladimir Putin, in conjunction, of course, with Ms. Lvova-Belova. And so, it makes sense as a starting point.

But there are many other lines of inquiry, and investigation, and allegations that they are looking into. And the hope is that this is just the beginning that they're building momentum, and we will see more, like this, to come.

BERMAN: So Garry, you tweeted today, "I don't care if Putin leaves his bunker in chains or in a box, but his trial could be an education for brainwashed Russians who must confront their culpability in his crimes. There would be backlash and denial, but the facts would come out."

You really think that you really think at this point that the Russians will learn something from this?

KASPAROV: Eventually, yes. But before this moment comes, we need Ukraine to win the war.

Ukrainian victory, as I've been saying, for a long time, we, alongside with my colleagues, like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and other prominent Russians, who believe that victory for Ukraine, is the beginning of liberation of Russia, from Putin's fascism.

Only decisive grand victory, it will include full liberation of the country, including Crimea, and the City of Sevastapol, reparations being paid, and War Crimes Tribunal.

Those are three key components, for Russia, to have a chance, historic chance, to leave behind Empire, all Imperial illusions, and Imperial past, mostly criminal past, and to try to build a new state, a nation state, some kind of a loose confederation, of many Russian regions that would like to have a fresh start.

BERMAN: Garry Kasparov, we do appreciate your time, tonight.

Clarissa Ward, as always, thank you so much, for your reporting.

Next, you're going to hear, from Olena Gnes, a Ukrainian mother of three, now living, here in the United States. Her thoughts, on the arrest warrants, something she's been demanding, since her very first appearance, on 360.



BERMAN: Today, a prosecutor, in The Hague, made history.

Sadly, though, the larger story has already been written, month after month, in tears.

Days after the Russians invaded Ukraine, Anderson spoke, for the first, of many times, to our next guest, Olena Gnes. Along with her husband, and children, they were living peacefully, in the capital, Kyiv, when the attack began, and the missiles first landed there.

And she's given us a grounds-eye view, of this war, at every critical stage, from the initial invasion, to the seizure of Kyiv, to the Ukrainian counter-assault.

In fact, it was during that first interview, on February 28th of last year, when she said this, about her hope that Vladimir Putin would one day face justice.


OLENA GNES, DOCUMENTING EXPERIENCE ON YOUTUBE CHANNEL, "WHAT IS UKRAINE," UKRAINIAN SHELTERING IN THE U.S.: You see, he just decided to send here, his troops, and airplanes, and to bomb my city, and kill my people, simply because he wanted.

And for this, Putin has to be punished. And for this, Putin has to be imprisoned, he - to take him to Hague International Court. Because what he has done is an international serious and awful crime, because thousands of people already died, and they are not - they are innocent victims.


BERMAN: We are glad that Olena Gnes, who now lives, in the United States, under the "Uniting for Ukraine" program, could join us, once again, on this historic day.

Olena, thank you so much, for joining us.

You've been calling for Vladimir Putin to be punished, and held accountable, for the atrocities that have happened, in your country, from the very beginning, of the invasion.

So, what are you feeling today, after this announcement, from the ICC?

GNES: I feel that it's better later than never. So, I welcome the decision.

But I also know that the list of the crimes that Putin has committed is much longer than this. We see killed civilians, injured civilians, raped women and men and children. We see destroyed villages and towns, the whole towns which was scorched, to zero level.

So, the list is very long. And now, I'm looking forward for more decisions, for more tough decisions, because the only - there is no alternative, but to have Putin, to hold him accountable, and to have him, in the International Criminal Court.

BERMAN: So, when Anderson visited you, in Kyiv, last year, there was this moment, this incredible moment, when your daughter, Katya, listed places, in Ukraine, where atrocities have taken place. I want to listen to that.


GNES: What they have done, in Bucha, in, it's--


GNES: In Mariupol, it's also, and now I am ready to fight.

COOPER (on camera): Yes.

KATYA: In Bucha. In Berdiansk.

GNES: And this is for telling people, (ph), in our eyes, we have Bucha and Mariupol.

COOPER (voice-over): The children know by heart the names of places, atrocities have been committed.


BERMAN: So, as we said, I mean, it really is something that your daughter knew the names, of these places.

Even though these ICC charges aren't related to those atrocities, what do you think that this moment, this historic moment, represents, for the people, in Ukraine?

GNES: I think that you say even a child knows the evidences, on the surface. You cannot pretend you're blind, and don't see them. Even a child could tell you the names of these serious (ph).


And unfortunately, since then, a lot of more places were heavily destroyed, a lot of more crimes happened. And unfortunately, Putin, he doesn't get - he doesn't care, about this decision.

I mean I welcome this decision. But this decision doesn't stop Putin, right now. And unfortunately, as we are talking, right now, Putin continues destroying Ukraine, and killing people, in Ukraine.

BERMAN: So, what more needs to happen, in your eyes, to hold Putin accountable?

GNES: He needs to be arrested. What needs to be done to a terrorist, who is committing crimes, to any criminal who commits crimes?

I mean, what if your neighbor just, starts destroying your home, killing your people, raping your children, and then you address to the police? And what police tells you that, "You know this guy has very big guns, so we cannot arrest him. So just try to negotiate with him." It's not an option.

We cannot normalize any crime. And a crime of this huge level cannot be normalized at all, because the world is watching. And we have other countries, who are watching, right now. So, OK, Putin violated all international agreements. And so, what? He still can go forward. And only force can stop him.

So, what Ukraine needs its weapon, more weapons, and enough of weapons, to stop. I'm not saying that - America is given, and other countries are giving little. Not. It's a lot. But unfortunately, it's not enough. Not because you are not helping Ukraine much, but because Putin is more aggressive. He's insane. That's an insane tyrant.

BERMAN: Just lastly, you and your family are temporarily, all in the United States, staying with a host family. We spoke with you, just a few weeks ago, around the one-year anniversary, of the invasion. How are you all doing?

GNES: We are doing really great, apart from the feeling of guilt is that we are alive. But I think every Ukrainian have this guilt.

But we've been on a very amazing travel. We visited subscribers of my YouTube channel, in Florida. And we visited some museum.

Katya visited Everglades. It's her dream destination. Because, when she was in the basement, she was saying that she wants to become a crocodile, and eat Putin! So, she saw the place of the crocodile.

And we also visited the Kennedy Space Center. And my children, they touched the piece of the moon. And I learned an amazing thing about America, the words of Kennedy, when he said, "We go to the moon - we choose to go to the moon. We do things because they are - not because they are easy, but because they are hard." And this is the real America.

And America is a great country. And I'm very grateful to American people, who are helping us. And these people that we visited, they are both Democrats and Republicans. But it doesn't matter, when we talk about humanity, about freedom, about these values that unite all of us, people of different political views, in America, and in Ukraine, and in other countries.

We just have to be united, and we have to be strong, and we have to be brave, like Ukraine, brave, like my daughter, who wanted to become a crocodile, and eat Putin!

Putin has to be punished. Russia is behaving like a terrorist. And it will not stop behaving like a terrorist, until it is stopped by force.

BERMAN: Olena, the United States, we are lucky, to have you here, if only temporarily. I hope you get to get back to your country soon. And while I understand the feelings of guilt, you didn't ask for this. This was done to you.

We thank you very, very much.

GNES: Thank you. Thank you. It's always honor. Thank you.

BERMAN: Up next, more on the question that matters so much, to Olena, and so many others, namely, whether Putin will in fact ever face trial.

We're going to look at how the International Criminal Court has brought some of history's other bad actors, to justice, and provided accountability, for some of the planet's worst moments of injustice.



BERMAN: Untouchable, above the law, pretty remarkable to think someone, like Vladimir Putin, the leader of a global nuclear power, would ever end up, in international custody, and go on trial, for war crimes.

But there have been some cases, in history, where those seemingly invincible, have been held to account.

Matthew Chance has more.


CHANCE (voice-over): The suspected crime of overseeing the abduction of Ukrainian children, has earned Vladimir Putin, and Maria Lvova- Belova, a place, in a rogue's gallery of alleged war criminals.

Although the ICC, established in The Hague, in 2002, has a checkered record, of bringing those accused of wrongdoing to justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is guilty of the crimes of conscription and enlisting children.

CHANCE (voice-over): It took the court, nearly 10 years, to get its first conviction, Thomas Lubanga, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, sentenced, for his role, in recruiting child soldiers.

Many ICC cases have focused on African states, prompting criticism, of disproportionality.

Libya's former leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was charged with crimes against humanity in 2011.

LUIS MORENO-OCAMPO, ICC PROSECUTOR: Implementing the arrest warrant will send clear signals to those who commit crimes in Libya or elsewhere. You cannot gain power or retain power, committing crimes against humanity. The world will not allow you to do it.

CHANCE (voice-over): But he was brutally killed, by a Libyan mob, before he could be brought to justice.

Before the ICC, war crimes were handled by special U.N. tribunals, like that set up to prosecute war crimes perpetrated, in the Bosnia war, and breakup of Yugoslavia.

Including the high-profile trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, for the mass killing of innocent people.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC, SERBIAN AUTOCRAT: I consider this tribunal false tribunal and indictments false indictments. It is illegal.


CHANCE (voice-over): He died in jail, before his trial ended, denying many, the justice they yearned for.

Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader, was indicted, in 1995, but evaded arrest, until 2011. The court found he was guilty, of genocide. And in 2017, he began a lifetime prison sentence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Tribunal will sentence you - sentences you to death by hanging.

CHANCE (voice-over): But it was, of course, the Nuremberg Trials, of prominent Nazis, after the Second World War that set the standard, for war crimes prosecutions.

There's far less unity, among nations, today, though, about who is guilty, and who is not. And despite the indictments, few expect the Russian leader ever to see the inside of a court.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


BERMAN: Perhaps justice will prevail.

The news continues here, on CNN, right after a quick break