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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Israel Political Crisis; Russia Gains in Ukraine; Japan LGBTQ+ Rights. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired June 20, 2022 - 17:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Zain Asher, in for Bianca Nobilo. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Tonight, Israeli prime minister and his coalition ally agreed to resolve parliament, which would trigger the country's fifth election in less than

four years.

Then, Russia makes gain in eastern Ukraine as President Zelenskyy warns of intensified attacks.

And a Japanese court finds the country same-sex marriage is constitutional. We will see brief on LGBTQ+ rights in Asia, ahead.

And, for the fifth five in just over three years, it appears Israel is heading for elections, the leader of the country's fragile coalition, Prime

Minister Naftali Bennett, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, agreed hours ago to submit a bill to dissolve parliament, that's expected next week. Mr.

Bennett has been unable to keep his coalition together, and after facing pressure for weeks has decided that he would step aside.


NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In the last few weeks, we did everything we could to save this government. In our eyes,

the continuation of this existence was in the national interest. Believe me, we looked under every rock, we didn't do this for ourselves, before our

beautiful country, for you citizens of Israel.


ASHER: If the bill goes through, Lapid is set to take over as prime minister until another general action takes place. That's in line with the

original coalition deal that was made last year to remove former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office.

CNN's Hadas Gold is following these fast moving developments from Jerusalem. Hadas joins us live now.

So, if everything started goes the way we think it's going to go Yair Lapid would actually prime minister when President Joe Biden visits Israel, what

should we make of that, what we should be read into that?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it's fascinating how the Israeli politics of worked out in the past few years. This government has been on

cheeky ground for a few weeks, I don't think anybody was expecting that it would ultimately be the prime minister and alternate prime minister is also

-- foreign minister Yair Lapid, to be the ones to dissolve the government themselves and as you noted, under the coalition agreement, this means that

Yair Lapid will now take over.

But ultimately, it was two members of Naftali Bennett's own right-wing party who defected in the last few weeks and months of essentially bringing

down its downfall and ending Naftali Bennett's term as prime minister after just over a year.


GOLD (voice-over): Naftali Bennett, he was not supposed to be prime minister, at least not yet. But in 2021, his small party open the door to a

new government, one that ended Benjamin Netanyahu's run as the longest serving Israeli prime minister.

And with that, the high tech millionaire became the country's 13th prime minister.


GOLD: Leader of the right-wing party, Yamina, joining forces with unlikely bed fellows, to form the most diverse coalition in Israel's history.

Bennett, a kippah-wearing religious former settler leader, sitting alongside left-wing parties he once derided, and the first Arab party in a

governing coalition.

BENNETT: We knew it was going to be hard, we knew that when you put a secular and religious together, right and laughter, Jews and Arabs gather,

there are going to be bumps in the road. But that's the challenge.

GOLD: With so many diametrically opposed positions, the coalition agreed to avoid major changes on lightning rod issues, especially in regard to

peace talks with Palestinians.

A marking achievements elsewhere, passing the first budget in nearly four years, building security alliances on the back of the Abraham Accords

normalization agreement, Bennett becoming the first Israeli prime minister to visit the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

YOHANAN PLESSNER, PRESIDENT, ISRAEL DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE: It's a government with many achievements in comparison to it short period, a narrow

parliamentary majority. But it didn't succeed to do, is to rescue our extractor Israel from its internal cultural identity warfare, and this

respect, this government was more of a cease-fire, rather than putting an end to the political deadlock.


GOLD: The grand experiment, barely one year old, crumbling, sending Israelis once again to the polls for the fifth time, in just over three



GOLD (on camera): This, of course, now gives former prime minister, now opposition Benjamin Netanyahu opening to return to power, he seemed quite

pleased with the situation this evening when he was speaking to reporters. But in the interim, if all goes to plan, Yair Lapid will become prime

minister and he will be the one to welcome President Joe Biden when he arrives in Israel next month.

And according to our colleagues at the White House, that trip will still go on as planned despite this political shakeup -- Zain.

ASHER: As you mentioned, three elections in -- just in a very short space of time, Hadas Gold live for us there. Thank you so much.

All right. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns that Russia may intensify attacks during what he calls a truly historical week when the

European Union is expected to decide on Ukraine's bid for candidates status. Russia is making gains in Eastern Ukraine, capturing a town on the

outskirts of Severodonetsk. Ukraine caused the fight for the Luhansk region very difficult, saying the situation changes every half hour.

In the south, the leader of Russia-annexed Crimea says that Ukraine fired on drilling platforms in the Black Sea, injuring three workers. He says

seven others are missing. It's the first reported strike against energy infrastructure off Crimea since the war began.

Our Sam Kiley is following developments tonight from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.

So, when you think about President Zelenskyy's comments, he expects a ramping up by Russia of attacks, especially as this EU memberships being

decided, just walk us through what's at stake for Ukraine, right now.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right at the top of the list of Ukrainian ambitions effectively has been to join the

European Union. That was the case in -- protest that brought down than Russian-backed president, arguably provoked the Russian invasion, Russian

back invasion of 2014. And indeed the invasion earlier this year because of course, a pro-Western European member, NATO supporting countries such as

Ukraine with a substantial Russian speaking minority, but a substantial one at that would be deeply threatening indeed to authoritarian leadership of

Vladimir Putin in neighboring Russia.

So, Zelenskyy has said that he expects a reaction from the Russians, arguably there has been in the last 48, 72 hours. There's been an increase

in the intensity of air strike and missile strikes against Kharkiv where I am now, and this morning, there was an increase in the amount of artillery

landing on the outskirts of the city. On top of that, local military authorities and we see the evidence for this, have said there is a buildup

of Russian troops, between Kharkiv here, and the border which is only about 25 kilometers or so.

And as a consequence of that, there's an anticipation that they'll be an attack against Kharkiv, a city that was our liberated effectively about a

month and a half ago, and a number of the villages around it liberated to from Russian occupation, great and deep concern that those areas will now

come a renewed Russian military pressure, a lot of preparation going on for what is anticipated to be a Russian push here, just as there is an ongoing

and extremely -- aggressive push going on in the east of the country particularly as you mentioned, Zain, in severe Donetsk.

ASHER: Sam Kiley, live for us there, thank you so much.

All right. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that more than 1.2 million Ukrainians have crossed borders into Russian Federation since the

end of February. But not everyone wants to stay there.

Fred Pleitgen shows us how one Russian priest is using the full strength of his resources, and his faith to help them.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The church, a single bare room in a former factory in St. Petersburg. But

Reverend Gregoriy Mihknew Vaiytenko's tiny Parish is a humanitarian powerhouse.

He's helped scores of Ukrainians displaced by what Moscow calls at special military operation to the European Union.

REVEREND GREGORIY MIKHNEW VAIYTENKO, RUSSIAN PRIEST: There are thousands of people because every day, every day, a few hundred people go.

PLEITGEN: Most of the Ukrainians sheltering in this hostel in St. Petersburg are from Mariupol, a city almost completely destroyed by

artillery, airstrikes and urban combat.

On March 9th, the city's maternity clinic was hit. An infamous incident that killed four people and wounded scores including Viktoria Shishkina,

who lost her unborn baby.


"They did a caesarean operation, there was panic everywhere, but they said they have to save me," she says. "They saw the child had no more vital

signs. They try to pull them out and reanimate him but the explosion hit me right in the belly and they couldn't save him."

A double tragedy as her husband, Vladimir, was also hit by shelling as he was trying to visit Viktoria, killing a friend walking with him.

"I heard a loud ringing and I thought to myself I'm dead, too," he says. But I looked down my leg and my kneecap had been torn off. I crawled to a

fence and screamed help, help.

Vladimir's leg, later, had to be amputated.

Thanks to Reverend Grigory and his network of volunteers, they made it to St. Petersburg, where, like so many, they stay free of charge at this

hostel, waiting to leave Russia.

Ukraine has accused Russia of targeting civilians in Mariupol, Russia denies those claims and, instead, blamed Ukraine.

Bogdan Zalenskov (ph) and his family also escaped, they live near the Mariupol drama theater, which was bombed in mid-March, reportedly killing

hundreds, though the exact number remains unknown.

As his neighborhood was being flattened, Bogdan took his wife, his son, and his eight-month- old baby girl, Kira, and fled, ending up in southwestern

Russia. Like everyone here, they want to get to the European Union.

Reverend Grigory says Russia does not prevent Ukrainians from leaving the country. But due to a lack of information, some end up in remote regions of

this massive country.

VAIYTENKO: They have no information. This is the main problem. They have no information on what they can do, and what it is possible to do, where

they can go.

PLEITGEN: The cost of moving so many Ukrainians, some severely wounded to the E.U. are massive. Reverend Gregoriy relies on donations, mostly by

Russian hospitals, companies, business people and ordinary citizens, some opposed to what Russia calls for special military operation but afraid to

speak out.

Reverend Gregoriy left the Russian Orthodox Church in 2014. Its head, Patriarch Kirill, is a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin,

and supporter of the special military operation.

VAIYTENKO: For me, it was not possible to stay there, when they have a military church.

PLEITGEN: Reverend Grigory says he doesn't fear speaking openly about his opposition to Russia's actions in Ukraine, he only fears God.

As he sees Victoria and Vladimir off, they've gotten to go to head to Germany where Vladimir is set to receive a prosthetic limb, a bit nervous,

but also grateful for the chance to start a new life thanks to the help of Reverend Grigory and his band of supporters.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.


ASHER: All right. Colombia has just voted in its first ever leftist leader. Gustavo Petro won Sunday's presidential election which is over 50

percent of the vote. The 62-year-old former guerrilla fighter ran on a green energy campaign and vows to work for change. The EU foreign policy

chief says the election results show that Colombia voters are choosing a more inclusive, equal society.

Stefano Pozzebon is in Bogota for us.

So, Stefano, history being made here on multiple fronts. You've got Colombia lifting its first ever leftist leader. On top of that, the

country's first ever black vice president as well.

What more can you tell us?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, it's a fascinating moment for this country after the peace agreement of 2016, that brought to an end more than

50 years of guerrilla fighting, and after the dramatic impact of the COVID- 19. You have to remember, Colombia was particularly hard -- hit hard by the virus.

For the first time in its history, the most conservative in South America has decided that it thrown before it's simply not working anymore and they

try something new. But also, it's a moment to check on the ban itself, on Gustavo Petro, who completed yesterday with his victory, an evolution that

dates back from decades when he started a political activity as a guerilla fighter.

Take a listen.


POZZEBON (voice-over): Gustavo Petro, Colombia's first ever left-wing president. Four decades ago, he was the guerrilla fighter, waging war

against the government state. Now he is the head of state. After being detained for almost two years in the 1980s, he lay down his weapons and ran

for political office. He was elected as a congressman, then mayor of Bogota, and then as a senator.


He campaigned for the presidency three times before becoming president elect this Sunday, by a razor-thin margin of 3 percent. A sign that many

remain concerned about his past. His election comes at a turbulent time in Colombia's history. The economy is flourishing, but the inequality means

that the countryside remains under development.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inflationary wave that followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine exacerbated Colombia's troubles. Food prices

increased more than 20 percent this year. Gustavo Petro told CNN that his focus will be on food security. He also said he wants to stop oil and coal

extraction and open a new relationship with the United States.

Do you renegotiate a free trade agreement with the U.S.?


POZZEBON: He says he wants Colombia to export food, rather than cooking, fighting the war on drugs with agricultural subsidies instead of weapons.

The challenges ahead are huge in bringing the country after a polarizing campaign is only the beginning. But Petro believes he is the right person

to steer this and says he could change from armed rebel to statesman, Colombia can change, too.


POZZEBON (on camera): Zain, in that interview, Petro told us that he wants to open a new political dialogue with the White House, Washington, a

dialogues centered around free issues, protecting the environment, phasing out fossil fuels, and ending the war on drugs. And that he hopes that it

will be allowed to speak with President Joe Biden in person, he will be able to convince him that there is room for dialogue and common ground --


ASHER: Stefano Pozzebon, live for us there, thank you so much.

All right. Still ahead, no fuel, no food, and no medicine. The IMF tries to throw Sri Lanka a lifeline as the country struggles to cope with its worst

financial crisis in decades.

And a set back for LGBTQ rights in Japan. The Osaka district court has ruled that the government's ban on same sex marriage does not violate the

country's Constitution.

We'll debrief next.



ASHER: Let's take a look at the other key stories making an impact today. We're learning of a horrific attack in western Ethiopia. Witnesses and the

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission say the rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Army, rampaged through a village Saturday, killing at least 200 civilians.

The rebels have been fighting government forces, blame them for the killings instead.

Heavy monsoon rains have triggered massive flooding in Bangladesh, in parts of northern India. Dozens of people have died and landslides, lightning

strikes and flash floods. In Bangladesh, flooding have submerged roads, highways, and isolated entire districts. Millions are in temporary relief


The IMF has begun bailout talks in Sri Lanka, as the country faces its worst financial crisis in seven decades. The lack of foreign currency is

stalling the import of fuel and food shipments.

In the meantime, Sri Lanka's cabinet has cleared the way to dilute the president's powers. Protesters are calling for his resignation.

And the Brazilian police have found a speedboat, a journalist, and indigenous expert were traveling in before they were murdered in the

Amazon. The suspect pointed investigators to this location, two others are under arrest, and five more under investigation. The British journalist Dom

Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira went missing on June 15th.

A district court in Osaka has ruled that Japan's ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the Constitution. Three same-sex couples ensued, arguing

that not being able to get married was against Article 14, that says all people are equal under the law. But the court rejected their claim, saying

that there is not been enough public debate about legalizing same sex marriage.

Under the current rules in Japan, same-sex couples cannot legally marry. And while some municipalities issue partnerships certificates, couples

can't inherit their partner's assets, or have parental rights over each other's children. Japan is the only country among G7 nations that does not

allow people of the same gender to marry.

Joining me live now via Skype from New Haven, Connecticut, is Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch.

Graham, thank you so much for being with us.

So, it's interesting because Japan has actually made some strides when it comes to legislation regarding same-sex partnerships. So, for a lot of

people, this actually comes as somewhat of a surprise. Walk us through that.

GRAEME REID, DIRECTOR, LGBT RIGHTS PROGRAM, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, yes. Just last year, in march, another district court came to an opposite

conclusion and ruled that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage was, indeed, unconstitutional, on grounds that it violated the provision on


And so, we have two contradictory courts rulings at the district level. Ultimately, the Supreme Court will need to decide as to whether the

Japanese parliament or Diet will need to pass legislation in order to allow for marriage equality in Japan. As you pointed out, many municipalities and

prefectures have already issued ordinances that recognize same-sex couples, which helps to a certain extent, but they are not legally binding.

ASHER: Right. So, there is some progress, but it's not coming. It's not expensive enough. It's not coming quickly enough.

So, do you think about what's same-sex couples in Japan are experiencing, they are not allowed to marry, as we pointed out. But also, they are not

allowed to inherit each other's -- if one person passes, they are not allowed to inherit each other's goods, belongings, et cetera. And they have

no parental rights over each other's children's.

Why is Japan so far behind other G7 countries, when it comes to this issue?

REID: That's an interesting question. But, actually, the government lags behind public opinion. The recent polls from 2020 show a high majority of

people support legislation that prevents against discrimination against LGBT people and also in favor of marriage equality. Around the time of the

Olympics, Japanese groups there supported national partners, held a campaign to push for non-discrimination legislation in Japan. The campaign

was not successful in the sense that nondiscrimination legislation was not passed.

But it did boost the public opinion, and polls showed a very high proportion of Japanese public supports nondiscrimination and marriage


In Japan, it's also played an important role internationally, supporting new initiatives, combating violence and discrimination against LGBT people.


And so, it's a little bit, and there is a strong business case for marriage equality, multinational corporation have weighed in saying that this would

give the ability to attract and retain talented and skilled staff.

So, there are many developments and social attitudes that are in favor of marriage equality. So, it's perplexing that the government continues to


ASHER: Right. So, if public opinion is in support of this, then what will it take to make change? What will it take to make some strides in favor of

same-sex marriage, in Japan?

Reid: Well, groups in Japan have been very active in mobilizing and campaigning for nondiscrimination and marriage equality. It's a slow and

long process.

As I say, this is likely to be, ultimately, decided by the Supreme Court. The government should simply pass legislation to extend marriage to same-

sex couples.

REID: All right. Graeme Reid for us there, thank you. I appreciate you joining us on his very, very important issue.

All right, we're following other stories for you.

With plastic waste spreading around the world, now, Canada is moving forward with a plan to eliminate single use plastics. It announced today it

will ban companies from importing or making plastic bags, straws, and Styrofoam containers by the end of this year. Ban their sale by next year

and ban their export by 2025.

Bags, takeout containers and straws are among the top items littering Canadian beaches. But a consortium of plastic producers is suing the

government over its designation of plastics as toxic.

All right. Thank you so much for watching. That was your GLOBAL BRIEF.

"WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.