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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Djokovic Faces Detention After Visa Revoked A Second Time; Russia- Ukraine Tensions; Boris Johnson's Scandals. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 14, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

On a day when the world is captivated by the Djokovic drama Down Under, also making headlines tonight, U.S. intelligence indicates Russia is

preparing an operation to justify the invasion of Ukraine. We're live in Moscow.

Then, how many lockdown parties does it take to oust the British prime minister? The UK foreign secretary says we should all just move on now. I

take a look at Boris Johnson's biggest scandals while in leadership.

And onions are meant to make you cry, not smile. Why they're part of a good news weekly wrap ahead.

Let's start with the breaking news -- Novak Djokovic's initial hearing in Australian federal court is set for just over an hour from now. In the last

hour, immigration authorities were scheduled to interview him in an undisclosed location before detaining him.

Here's why. Australia has revoked the Serbian tennis player's visa for a second time over COVID-19 entry regulations. The Australian immigration

minister explained the decision by saying it was in the public interest to do so. In the past week and a half, Djokovic arrived in Melbourne on a visa

he thought was valid, had that taken away, been held at an immigration center had a judge overturn the first cancellation, and now this.

Djokovic is currently scheduled to defend his title in the Australian Open which begins on Monday, so the timing here is critical.

Phil Black is in Melbourne, where the story's unfolding and Scott McLean is in Serbia, where the president is weighing in.

Phil, to you first. We're expecting a lot of developments today where you are. Which are the ones we need to be looking out for?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the timetable that was agree in the court tonight, it is this hour or the past hour that Djokovic

was suppose to turn up for an interview at a secret location in order to be detained, because that's the rules. That's Australian law. Once your visa

is canceled, you must be detained. It's mandatory.

We're waiting for confirmation that has happened. Beyond that, this will be a day of preparing and gear up for what we expect will be the key hearing

tomorrow. Today, Djokovic will be officially in detention, but the court has allowed him to spend time at his lawyer's office under close guard by

Australia's border force. It's expected there will also be a brief hearing in the new higher court that this has been kicked up to.

And then tomorrow, lawyers for both the government and Djokovic will give oral submissions on their cases. It's not expected to take too long, we

believe. The nature of these sorts of appeals is the legal avenues are quite narrow, so the grounds that are going to be argued are quite limited.

And the idea is -- I guess we'll receive confirmation of this today -- once that hearing is locked in, there's a very high chance that we'll find out

by the end of tomorrow whether or not Djokovic will be allowed to stay in the country and crucially whether he will be allowed to play in his opening

round in the Australian Open on Monday.

NOBILO: Thanks, Phil.

Scott, over to you in Serbia. This has been highly politicized and diplomatically charged. What are we hearing from government members in

Serbia today?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, certainly the accusation of this being politicize second down one being hurled at the Australians from

the Serbian side of things. And today, the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic made abundantly clear, if you go after Novak Djokovic, a man who's

undoubtedly a national hero here, you are going after all Serbians.

If it's popular in Australia for people to think Djokovic should be booted because he's unvaccinated, it at least equally popular here to come to his

defense, and that's what the president has done. He's been pretty diplomatic up to this point, and he said had the Australian judicial system

dealt with this on its own, he probably wouldn't have said anything.

But once the politicians got involved he had a lot more to say. Today, he dropped the gloves on Australia's political class. Listen.


ALEKSANDAR VUCIC, SERBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am amazed at the fact that such decisions can be made by the executive and after the

valid decisions of the judiciary. They often preach to us about what the rule of law is.

Why do you mistreat him and make fun of him? Not only him, but also his family and an entire nation that is free and proud. Do you need it to win

some elections? Do you need it to please your public?


MCLEAN: Now, he went on to suggest that of course, as you heard there, that this was all motivated by the upcoming Australian election.

Back here in Serbia, there's still questions about the test that Novak Djokovic took in this country. Those questions are being investigated by

the Australian border force and the prime minster's office today said the border force, they believe, had reached out to the public health institute

in this country to try to get some answers.

Some of the questions being debated here are -- and let me remind you the timeline, Bianca -- December 16th, that's when Djokovic took a positive PCR

test. December 17th, he went to an event without a mask with children and only after then did he say that received a notification of that positive


Well, today, a Serbian public health official and the prime minster's office said there's simply no way that notification reached Novak Djokovic

an entire day later. The system is automated they say. The time stamp on there was 8:20 or 8:19 p.m. And so, he would have gotten that by text

message and by email within minutes, the say.

The only question is, did Novak Djokovic check his text messages or check his email? That is a question that only Novak Djokovic has the answer to.

Now, the Serbian health officials also tried to clear up questions around an ID number on that December 6th positive test and also the fact that a QR

code in the court filings linking to the digital version of that test result showed negative when it should have showed positive for a brief

period of time earlier this week. In the case of the ID number, they say, well, it's because it was taken at a different lab. In the case of the QR

code, they said that there was a glitch in the system because there were so many people trying to access that QR code at the same time.

One other thing to quickly mention, Bianca, and that's that Novak Djokovic will not be prosecuted for his admission that he broke quarantine on

December 18th.

NOBILO: It's all pretty critical information there, Scott.

Phil, the sound bite that Scott was just tossing to you really begs the question, as somebody who is Australian, obviously follows these matters

closely, how much of this continues to be driven by politics, and how might that affect the outcome of today?

BLACK: There is no doubt this is highly political, if not -- certainly won't affect the outcome, but the shadow of politics hangs over all this.

There's no doubt, Bianca. The Australian government deliberately chose to use very tough language to really back the idea of being quite

uncompromising with Novak Djokovic once it was revealed that he thought he had a exemption to get here. When the border force initially took him

aside, canceled his visa, the government again backed that.

This is a government that defines itself very strongly by being tough on border security, particularly so through the pandemic. It has suffered a

political blow through the initial court case that restored Djokovic's visa and set him free. From that point of view, was essentially black into the a

corner and I think the general view here is the government had no choice, but to have another crack at this, to -- for the minister to use his powers

in some way.

The question now really is, will it work? Because the stakes are very high. Legal expert view is divided, I think, on just what Djokovic's chances are

here of winning on appeal. But should he do so, should we be freed, should his visa be restored, should he walk on to center court Monday evening,

then that would be a significant embarrassment, real humiliation to the Australian government.

And it's likely that that's going to carry over, roll over, and the Australian public is going to be reminded of this every single time Novak

Djokovic takes the court, and especially should he go all the way and actually win the title -- Bianca.

NOBILO: I mean, it is complicated -- the COVID restrictions, meeting the Australian legal system, all happening in this highly charged political

Petri dish. Thank you both for breaking it down for us.

Phil Black in Melbourne, Australia, and Scott McLean for us in Belgrade, in Serbia.

On the same day that Ukraine was hit by an ominous cyberattack warning it to, quote, expect the worse, the U.S. says Russia may be creating a pretext

for invasion.

Pentagon Secretary John Kirby says there's a credible information source that Russian saboteurs are already fabricating provocations.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We have information they've pre- positioned a group of operatives to conduct what we call a false flag information, on operation designed to look like an attack on them or their

-- or Russian speaking people in Ukraine, again, as an excuse to go in.



NOBILO: Ukraine says Friday's cyberattacks are part of a plot to destabilize the country. It says there are signs that Russian intelligence

services were involved. Dozens of government websites briefly went dark as threatening texts warned people to be afraid.

The E.U. and NATO are mobilizing to help strengthen Ukraine cybersecurity. E.U. ministers have been sounding the alarm, saying all cyberattacks could

proceed or accompany a possible Russian invasion.


ANN LINDE, SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER: That is exactly one of the things that we have warned for, and that we are afraid of -- that kind of hybrid

or cyberattacks.


NOBILO: Russia is releasing video of military drills near Ukraine's border as multiple rounds of talks this week failed to ease its standoff with the


It denies it has plans to invade Ukraine, says it's considering its options.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow for us.

Matthew, first and foremost, has there been a reaction from Russia to the cyberattacks in Ukraine, pointing the finger at Russia trying to form a

pretext for invasion? And also, what are you hearing or sensing from the Kremlin in terms of their willingness to compromise at this stage?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I've not heard a reaction to the cyberattacks, but the Kremlin has definitely

reacted to the fact a false flag operation was being planned, basically a Russian group of service personnel planning to attack another Russian group

of service personnel and blame that attack on the Ukrainians. I mean, they dismissed it out of hand. I mean, Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson,

has, you know, said there's no evidence for this.

Of course, whenever Russia is accused of wrongdoing in this way, it often falls back on a categorical denial and that has done again this time.

Although I have to say, on this occasion, no evidence has been presented by the Pentagon in term of what intelligence they have that would substantiate

this extraordinary allegation.

In terms of what Russia is prepared to accept, we still have had a week that's end in the a pessimistic way. From a Russian point of view, their

core demands, namely that NATO stops expanding east wards towards their borders and never joins NATO have not been met, in fact, have been rejected

and there's been strong reactions from Russian officials.

Sergey Lavrov asked for a written explanation as to what exactly the Western position is at this point, the U.S. position and NATO position, and

what's acceptable and what's not. Russian officials are expressing their, you know, pessimism, but we haven't heard from Vladimir Putin, the Russian

president, and until we do, it's difficult to predict, you know, which way Russia may go.

NOBILO: Matthew Chance in Moscow, thank you.

Russian-led forces are on their way out of Kazakhstan. About 2,000 troops are packing up and leaving after helping to put down an explosion of anti-

government unrest trigger bid fuel prices. More than 160 people killed if the chaos and thousands more were detained.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty and has a firsthand look at some of the damage there.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside the charred carcass of the Almaty mayor's office, a massive cleanup

is now under way. By hand and by machine, work has started to repair the damage caused by violent protests that gripped Kazakhstan. CNN is the first

media outlet allowed inside to survey the extent of the damage.

The authorities have brought in dozens, if not hundreds of workers, to clean up the aftermath of what were the street battles here in the largest

city of Almaty. And it's really remarkable to see the full scale of the destruction here in the mayor's office, as the authorities here say rioters

entered the building and set fire to all of it.

Kazakhstan's officials say they were dangerously close to losing control not just here in Almaty but other places across the country.

Kazakhstan's president said protests that were originally against high fuel prices were hijacked by what he calls, quote, terrorists.

He issued a shoot to kill order and summoned an international military force led by Russia.

PRESIDENT KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, KAZAKHSTAN (through translator): We prevented dangerous threats for our country's security. As part of the

counterterrorist mission, we are trying to identify people who committed those crimes.

PLEITGEN: The government says things are now largely under control. And there is evidence of that across the city. Life is almost back to normal.

The Russian-led military force has started its withdrawal, although the process is said to take another nine days. But authorities say their

crackdown will continue. Around 10,000 people have been detained, and more than 160 killed.

Opposition activist Zhanbolat Mamay was at the protest. He says things started peacefully but then he, too, was beaten by what he called


He provided with us this video seeming to show what happened. And these photos of what he looked like after the attack. Mamay says he believes the

rioting was a pretext for a violent crackdown.

ZHANBOLAT MAMAY, KAZAKHSTANI OPPOSITION ACTIVIST: The government decided to slaughter their own people. And one more great problem, I think, is a

that it was done not only with the help of Kazakhstan security forces but with interference of Russian troops.

PLEITGEN: Kazakhstan's leadership denies attacking peaceful protesters and says they've launched a full investigation into who was behind the violence

that erupted.

Meanwhile, the country's president has vowed to improve people's living conditions and rebuild the sites damaged as fast as possible.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Almaty, Kazakhstan.


NOBILO: Let's take a look at the key stories making impact today. Sources tell CNN Benjamin Netanyahu is discussing a possible plea deal. The former

Israeli prime minister is facing corruption charges. The possible deal would likely see the most serious charge, bribery, dropped and other

charges watered down or shelved. Depending what the sentence might be, it could enable him to run for office again.

North Korea has launched what appear to be two short-range ballistic missiles. It's North Korea's third test in the past week. It came after

Pyongyang criticized the U.S. first for new sanctions over the earlier launches, and hours after it defended its right to bolster its arms.

Just ahead, did Downing Street break more COVID rules as the U.K. mourned Prince Philip? Why the prime minster is coming under yet more fire.


NOBILO: Downing Street is apologizing to Buckingham Palace over fresh revelations about COVID rule-breaking parties. It's the latest that's

emerged -- two Downing Street parties held the night before Prince Philip's funeral last April. You'll remember this poignant image of the queen

sticking to the rules and sitting alone as she mourned her husband.

Pressure is mounting on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he awaits the results of an investigation by his top civil servant.

His foreign secretary Liz Truss admits mistake have been made.


LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think we now need to move on and talk about how we are going to sort out issues. I've spent the last 24

hours with the EU talking about sort out the situation with the people of northern Ireland, and we now need to get on with that and, of course, wait

for the results of Sue Gray inquiry.


NOBILO: Looking at Boris Johnson's career, you'd be forgiven for thinking he's impervious to scandal, but not this week. I'm going to rank the

political damage caused by his scandals from 1 to 10 -- 10 being politically unsurvivable and, only scandals since he's been prime minister,

because I've only got a few minutes.

Misleading the queen. If a British prime minister wants to prorogue parliament, they have to ask the monarch. Soon after Boris Johnson became

prime minster he was accused of lying to the queen in the advice he gave her to suspend parliament for five weeks. Critics said he did it to force

through his Brexit plan. The Supreme Court unanimously decided the prorogation was unlawful, but Johnson denied lying to her majesty.

Score? Two out of 10. There was uproar. The speaker called it constitutional outrage. But this was his first political scandal, so he had

fresh political capital. The move was also backed by those who wanted to get Brexit done whatever the cost.

Next, cash for curtains. Prime ministers are granted 30,000 pounds a year for the upkeep of the Downing Street flat. But Johnson and his wife Carrie

wanted 100,000 for an expensive renovation.

First, Johnson's team said he'd pay for it. But then it transpired a Conservative Party donor had paid for most of it. The ethics adviser

cleared the prime minister, saying Johnson hadn't known where the money came from. But then WhatsApp messages between Johnson and the donor were

published in British media, suggesting he knew exactly where the funds came from.

Score? Three out of 10. Embarrassing, out of touch, but small fry relatively speaking.

Next, the Dominic Cummings affair. Johnson's former chief adviser was so influential that it made some MPs uncomfortable. In spring 2020, Cummings

drove 250 miles across England to his parents house, stopping at Barnard castle, while the rest of the country was under a stay-at-home order. He

said it was for family and security reasons.

Johnson initially resisted pressure to fire him, but when Cummings ultimately left his job, he became a formidable critic and eviscerated the

government during a seven-hour testimony where he likened the prime minister's leadership to a chaotic shopping trolley.

Score? This one is a 6 out of 10. Revelations for devastating. They painted the picture of an out-of-control Downing Street, and Cummings' claim that

tens of thousands died who needed to from COVID in the U.K. had a major impact. But he hurt his credibility with a volume of the betrayal and so,

he's often seen as a scorned former employee bashing his boss.

Lobbying. In November of last year, the House of Commons standards committee said Conservative MP Owen Patterson should be suspended after he

was found to have broken lobbying rules. Instead of backing the decision, Johnson ordered his MPs to block it and instead overhaul the standard

procedure, cue furious outcry of corruption. Government U-turned, Patterson resigned by election and the Tories were crushed, the Lib Dems won.

Score? Four out of 10. It was an own goal for Boris Johnson, likened to something that would happen in Putin's Russia. Johnson's MPs were angry and

took shine off him as an election winner. But it's a little esoteric to have major cut through.

Now, bring your own booze, the current scandal. Revelations that Boris Johnson and around 30 others attended a garden party in Downing Street

while the rest of England could meet with one person outdoors. Every week, more allegations of parties there lockdown are hitting the press. The

juxtaposition is brutal, visceral.

A prime minster breaking rules that the prime minster said the country suffered through sickness, loneliness and grief. It drives home that

narrative of one rule for us the government and another for you, the people.

Score? Nine out of 10. Not immediately terminal, but the hypocrisy, the lack of transparency and multiplying calls for him to resign put the prime

minister in an unprecedented danger. An apology at the despatch box quelled his own party's discontent a bit, but it's not over. Judgment day will be

the local elections in May if not before.

We'll be right back after this.



NOBILO: It's time for your weekly dose of good news, and we start in Germany, where our local council has pooled its money to help keep a young

boy in school despite him having a lung disease that forces him to stay at home. Joshua now has an avatar robot attending his classes which allows him

to interact with classmates and teachers.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, a zoo that's closed during COVID, opened for a one-off occasion to let the public say hello to the zoo's newest twin pandas.

Pandas, as you may remember, were taken off the endangered list last year, but still a very high risk of extinction.

And people can now ditch their swimming goggles in the kitchen. Introducing tearless onions. Yes, you heard me correctly. The so-called sunions which

have been available in the U.S. since 2018 will hit British markets next week.

I'll be first in line because I weep when I make Bolognese and others cry when they eat it.

Thanks for tuning in. I think that's all for this week. We will see you on Monday.