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At This Hour

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Near-Total Ban On Abortion; Video Captures Russian Forces Shoot & Kill Cyclist In Bucha; Ukrainian- American Family Works To Help Their War-Torn Homeland. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired April 06, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: New this morning. Oklahoma's legislatures passed a near-total ban on abortion, exposing doctors and clinicians to potential felony charges. CNN's Lucy Kafanov joins me now with more details on this. Lucy, what does this -- what does this do?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, good morning. This bill whose author described it as the strongest pro-life legislation in the country right now, a near-total ban on abortion in Oklahoma is expected to be signed by the Republican governor there, Kevin Stitt, who vowed in September to sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came to his desk.

Once he signs, the measure will take effect this summer unless blocked by courts. This ban makes performing an abortion in the state of Oklahoma a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a maximum $100,000 fine or both. It does not provide exceptions in the case of rape and incest. The only exception is in the case of a medical emergency.

And opponents of the measure described it as one of the strongest anti-abortion legislation pieces in the country. Take a listen to how the Oklahoma House Democratic Minority Leader described it.


EMILY VIRGIN, DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE, OKLAHOMA: We have very few abortion providers right now. And this would literally criminalize them for doing their jobs for providing a procedure that is constitutionally protected.


KAFANOV: And, Kate, this ban wouldn't just affect women in Oklahoma. The state has become a destination for Texas women seeking an abortion since that state in September banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Abortion rights groups say that nearly half of the patients Oklahoma providers are currently seeing are medical refugees from Texas and what's happening in both of these states is part of a wave of anti-abortion legislation around the country. As a conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court weighs a case that could overturn effectively abortion rights to summer. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Lucy, thank you so much for that. Also developing AT THIS HOUR, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is testifying on Capitol Hill, telling lawmakers about the economic challenges now facing the world set off by Russia's unprovoked aggression in Ukraine. Her testimony comes as one of the world's biggest banks is warning of a possible recession in the United States potentially setting in next year. CNN's Matt Egan joins me now with more on this. Matt, what are you hearing about these warnings and this forecast?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, you know, Janet Yellen, she's warning lawmakers that this war in Ukraine is going to have, "enormous economic repercussions in Ukraine and beyond." She expressed concern about how there's been this disruption of the flow of both energy and food. And, of course, that's only to drive up inflation, which was already very high.

So, there's this concern that elevated inflation is going to force the Fed to raise interest rates rapidly, hitting the brakes on the economy so hard that it may inadvertently tip the economy into recession. So that's why Deutsche Bank just became the first major bank to call for a recession in the United States. Now, a recession would be painful. I mean, you know, unemployment going up, markets going down.

BOLDUAN: Just as the economy is recovering. I mean, just hearing about a recession right away.

EGAN: Right, exactly. But that's the crazy thing here is that this expansion just started. I mean, it's only two years old. It's very unusual to be talking about a recession two years into recovery. We have a chart showing how the last three economic expansions lasted much longer. I mean, the recovery from the Great Recession was the longest one on record. As you can see, this one really just got started. Of course, the difference is that today's economy is really strong, inflation is very high, so high that the Fed has to step in and act like the firefighters, put out the fire, but that can get messy.

BOLDUAN: Matt, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

EGAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: You talk about complicated right now. Coming up for us, Russian atrocities captured on video, the shocking moment that Vladimir Putin's forces shoot and kill a Ukrainian civilian walking with his bicycle. We show you what happened. That's next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Every day, we are reporting on atrocities committed by Russian forces here in Ukraine, but it's rare to see their savagery against innocent civilians captured on video. I want to warn you that what we're about to show you is disturbing, but it is important that we show this to you. It's an aerial footage shot in Bucha, which is just outside of Kyiv.

This was taken several weeks ago and it shows a man walking with his bikes -- his bike on streets that are occupied by Russian forces, and then around the corner, as you can see, there's a Russian tank waiting and as this cyclist turns the corner disappearing from view, the Russian tank fires several high caliber rounds. These are huge bullets. Then a second armored vehicle also fires in the direction of the cyclist.

Moments later, there's a plume of smoke that rises from the area where the cyclist was. Weeks later, this video shows a body of a civilian -- a body in civilian clothes beside a bicycle and CNN has verified that this is the exact location where the cyclist was last seen before being killed by Russian forces.


KEILAR: At least 20 civilians were found in Bucha on Saturday. Just in the streets. That doesn't even account for the mass grave there after Russian forces had pulled out of the area. Joining me now is Lesia Vasylenko, she is a member of the Ukrainian parliament. We are seeing these horrific images, Lesia, and we are learning from a senior official in the Biden administration that Russian forces near Kyiv have now completed their withdrawal from the area. I wonder what you're thinking about this and if you're worried that they're going to be back.

LESIA VASYLENKO, UKRAINE PARLIAMENT MEMBER: That can be bad, there's no guarantee that -- will say that they will not be back. And what I'm thinking about it, the first news that we received that the Russians are retreating, we had -- all of us who are from Kyiv and the vicinities, we had a smile on our faces.

And I was so relieved but just for a moment. Because then these images started appearing everywhere, in the social media, in the news, in the international news, just showing that atrocity, that barbarity of the acts that the Russian army was committing all of these 40 days of war that they were holding these people hostages, torturing, raping, killing, looting, you name it.

Every single crime in the international humanitarian law book was committed by the Russians, it's as good as they were making a fried and had a competition who would -- who would do more crimes, who would have more war crimes to their name. And what we're seeing now is the aftermath of it all.

And it's a tragedy. It's a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, it's a tragedy for individual families who have witnessed it, who have lost loved ones, and it's a tragedy that Russia will have to pay for in tribunals in the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court. Justice will be served to every single one of the soldiers who was committing those crimes.

KEILAR: Lesia, I know you've heard about the new U.S. sanctions out today against financial institutions in Russia, against Vladimir Putin's daughters, but they're really just -- you know, part of a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the oil and gas money that Russia gets. And I wonder, and I'm sensing a lot of anger understandably, in the wake of Bucha coming out of Ukraine. I wonder, what is your message to the West when it comes to the consumption of Russian energy?

VASYLENKO: Well, it's not just about energy, all the sanctions which are being put in place, yes, thank you for them but please don't be disillusioned. Ukrainians are not fools. We clearly understand that this is the bare minimum that the West can get away with in imposing these sanctions against Russia.

Stopping Russian aggression is not just in the interest of Ukrainians and to have a country survive as an independent state. It's also in the interest of the West. Ukraine is not some tiny little country somewhere was no resources. It has 44 million people.

It's an agricultural country, it's an industrial country, it's a country upon which a lot of food markets depend, a lot of other markets depend. And having Ukraine go down will mean that a lot of processes will be disrupted and disturbed in the world, and a lot of them are already disturbed.

So, when the West is doing that, imposing sanctions, giving us weapons, they're doing the bare minimum to make sure that there's not more than significant disruptions to the global markets. But in fact, they could be and they should be doing much more. I mean, we're talking about a global peace and security framework, which will go down the drain if Ukraine falls under Russian rule, and if Russia establishes its empire.

And it's a small price to pay now to say no to Russian gas, to Russian oil, to Russian coal, really, it is extremely small compared to the millions of lives that can be lost, the thousands of lives that have already been lost, and to the general insecurity and instability in the world which can potentially come out of Ukraine falling into Russia's claws.

KEILAR: And, Lesia, I really appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much. Lesia Vasylenko, we do appreciate it. And, Kate, back to you in New York.

BOLDUAN: All right, Brianna, thank you. Coming up for us. I want you to meet the Kovals, a Ukrainian American family helping the resistance against Russia, a father and, mother in Ukraine, and their children trying to help from Ohio. They join -- they join us live next.



BOLDUAN: When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, one man in Ohio dropped everything and flew over to lend a helping hand. The Koval family is now separated. Ihor and his wife are in Ukraine, their children are back in Ohio and it's become an entire family effort and mission now to help Ukrainians and get them the supplies that they need to fight back against Russia's aggression. And joining me now is Ihor Koval. He's in Lviv, Ukraine. His children, Roman and Anastasiya Koval, they're in Cleveland, Ohio. Thank you guys very much for all coming on together.

Ihor, when the war broke out in late February, I'm told you walked out of your business, you went to a lawyer to drop a will and you've got up -- got on a flight to Poland where you then walked into Ukraine to help out. Why did you do that?


IHOR KOVAL, UKRAINIAN-AMERICAN VOLUNTEERING IN UKRAINE: A lot of decisions were in my head when I was making -- a lot of things were mad when I was making that decision. And most important was, the family was here, my wife was here visiting her parents, and my mom is still here, obviously, my wife is here.

And I feel a very integral part of my country for all the years. I've been living in the U.S. for 30 years, I still feel like I'm a part of this country and I feel that my ability to speak two languages is probably most critical in connecting the right dots between the United States and Ukraine where our soldiers are in dire need of supplies. They're really needed in the frontlines.

BOLDUAN: And talk to me, Ihor, about what you're doing there now.

IHOR KOVAL: What I'm doing is I'm coordinating the efforts of -- between the United States, between the charity we created in the United States, actually, my kids created this charity while he was here. And I am finding the protective gear and protective equipment that is needed for our soldiers on the frontline.

And mostly I find this in Europe, but we are in need of funds to do this to buy those bulletproof vests, the helmets, the right optics, the drones, just a simple uniform sometimes is -- that's what I'm doing is I'm just coordinating everything between the military that is here that has my friends out of there in the front line. And a lot of even families in the frontline too, one of the cousins is there.

And I'm leaving, like right after this interview, I'm leaving and going to the Donetsk region to deliver whatever West's I was able to buy and whatever the protective equipment as well, I was able to buy and I'm just -- I'm delivering that. All that stuff. So I'm asking everybody to support us in this.

American people, I'm asking them to support us by just donating because this is what we need at this time. And they can do this at, or they can simply just text Ukraine to a simple number, 56512, and then just all they have to do just to text Ukraine to it.

BOLDUAN: Anastasiya and Roman, I mean, you've been helping as your dad just said you both have been come together and are helping from home in Cleveland collecting and shipping supplies. I mean, Anastasiya, what are the supplies and equipment that are most needed? Where are you guys most focused? ANASTASIYA KOVAL, FATHER IS VOLUNTEERING IN UKRAINE: One of the things that we're looking for right now we're like bulletproof vests, drones, rifle scopes, those are definitely going to be on top of the list of things that we're looking for.

BOLDUAN: And, Roman, I mean, what's it like being in Ohio and having your parents over there? I mean, your mom is there too, helping to care for your grandparents who were both sick, actually, when this invasion started. What is it like now for you guys being at home and having your parents over there?

ROMAN KOVAL, FATHER IS VOLUNTEERING IN UKRAINE: Well, thanks for having us, Kate, first of all. And secondly, it's very nerve-wracking, to say the least knowing that they're all there and not really knowing what time or when they would potentially even come back. Again, what we're focusing our efforts on here is gathering all these funds.

And you know, we urgently need them and urgently need the help of people so please, you know, log on to, or just text Ukraine to 56512 and donate that way. That way, we can use those funds and funnel them, and to buy the things that are needed much most for the people at the frontlines in Ukraine, fighting for freedom and democracy.

BOLDUAN: And you guys are laser-focused. I can sense that, and laser- focused on getting help over to Ukraine as well. But I'm sure -- I would imagine if I was in a position I would be torn myself wanting -- proud of my parents being over there, proud of my father for being there to help in person, but also wanting my parents home. How about you?

ROMAN KOVAL: Well, yes, we are extremely proud, to say the least, but we really you know at this time, we need to stay laser-focused. We need to do to help. You know sitting back and being stressed out isn't going to give them the help they need.

And right now, what we're doing is collecting everything we can through and funneling those funds to whatever is needed, whatever is requested at the time, and purchasing them and sending them over or sending them to vendors that are in Europe. So being laser-focused is what we are required to be. Not what we want to be but yes, so we have to do it.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And just hearing that -- Ihor, that you're headed over to Donetsk, we're just now getting hit really hard as -- well, sending you our very best. Thank you all. It's really wonderful to meet you under the most incredible and unimaginable circumstances. Thank you very much.

IHOR KOVAL: Thank you very much.

ROMAN KOVAL: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And for more information on how you can help the people of Ukraine you can also go to There's a lot of information -- good information there. Before we go, a reminder you can also join me every morning on my new CNN Plus show, 5 Things 7 a.m. Eastern, always available on demand. You can sign up at CNN's coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine continues now on INSIDE POLITICS after this break.