Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

U.N. Inspectors Examine Embattled Ukrainian Nuclear Plant; Russian Businessman Dies; U.N. Uyghur Report. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired September 01, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Bianca Nobilo. Welcome to THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Ahead, we're live in Zaporizhzhia where some U.N. nuclear inspectors are staying, in hopes that the situation at the nuclear power plant there


Then, a fifth prominent Russian businessman this year has died under suspicious circumstances.

And a new U.N. report says that Beijing may have committed crimes against humanity against China's Uyghur community.

The head of U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency says he is worried, and will continue to worry after he and a team of inspectors spent several hours at

Ukraine's embattled nuclear power plant. The convoy of IAEA vehicles carried them into the Russian controlled Zaporizhzhia facility on Thursday.

But only after shelling and machine gun fire delayed them for hours.

And this is what they faced. The mayor of the town where the point is located said that by the shelling began at dawn and kept going as the

inspectors were on their way. Nevertheless, the chief inspector said that his team, which you see here, managed to examine the reactors and other key

areas of the plant, which he described as physically damaged. Five inspectors are staying behind until Saturday, perhaps definitely.


RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: We are not going anywhere. The IAEA is now there, it's at the plant, and it's not moving. It's going to stay

there. We are going to have a continued presence there at the plant.


NOBILO: He also reminded the world that the fighting around the plant is causing disaster, and he insisted it must end.

Senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is not far from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, and he joins us now from the city of


Sam, take us through what we know about the first inspection, and the dangers that the IAEA team had to navigate to get there.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, Bianca, it is on the frontlines. It has been used as a Russian fire base.

We know that. We have witnessed the results, with our own eyes, with the firing of rockets out of that location into civilian areas on the other

side of the Dnipro River in Ukrainian-held territory. So, that's one thing.

Now, it gets into the harder to prove realms. This is the allegation, and counter allegations from both Russians and Ukrainians that the shelling in

and around the location of the plant, and nearby, in Enerhodar, essentially the dormitory town for workers working the plant, both sides blame each


Now, what was very interesting about today's statements coming from Mr. Grossi was that he was able to identify the source of weapons that they

heard or saw being fired. This is what he said.


GROSSI: This morning, it was pretty difficult. But as I said, having come this far, I was not going to stop. With my courageous team, we moved in.

There were moments when fire was obvious, and heavy machine gun artillery, mortars, and two or three times with very concerning.


KILEY: Now, the use of artillery, and rather mortars, if he is more meaning mortar artillery. And machine guns, they don't have the range to be

used by the Ukrainians.

In other words, if he heard orders being fired, if he heard even heavy machine guns being fired, they can only have been being fired but the

Russians because the frontline positions of the Ukrainians are too far away for those Russians to be within range, and certainly within, Bianca. So,

that was not proof positive, but adds grist to the main of the Ukrainian allegation that the Russians are creating a lot of this physical drama,

danger themselves.

And added to that and it's been slightly lost in a lot of the brouhaha about the visit, is that another of the reactors reacting number five was

not shut down, but disconnected from the wider power grid, in other words, the electricity going into it for its cooling systems was cut. We saw that

last week, causing emergencies, triggering a backup diesel generator. That happened again today.


And that, potentially, if those diesel generators fail, as we now know, could lead to a meltdown, a Chernobyl or Fukushima type scenario -- Bianca.

NOBILO: And, Sam, just briefly confirming, as far as you are aware, the fifth reactor has been reconnected?

KILEY: We don't yet know. We think, according to the authorities, it has been reconnected. The flurry of concern over that is over, but it was

interesting that both the main source of power to it, and the backup source to the local power station was entered into the use of these diesel

generators. We are expecting the IAEA to keep their inspectors there at least through the weekend, whether they are permanent presence is in a form

of CCTV or physical human beings in this frontline position I think is yet to be negotiated -- Bianca.

NOBILO: So much more to ask you about this, but unfortunately we don't have time. Sam Kiley, thanks so much for joining us from Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian prosecutors are looking into possible war crimes committed by Russian troops, and trying to identify those responsible. CNN has obtained

exclusive video of Russian soldiers killing unarmed civilians who were walking away.

Before we show Sara Sidner's report, we must warn you, it contains graphic images that some viewers might find disturbing.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian prosecutors say that this is the moment and undeniable war crime was carried out by Russian

soldiers. This video clip, obtained by CNN, has yet to be seen by the public. It shows Russian soldiers firing at something alongside a business

that they have just overtaken on the outskirts of Kyiv. It turns out their target is to unsuspecting and unarmed Ukrainian civilians who they shoot in

the back.

We first reported on this portion of the video in May, showing the business owner dying where he falls, and the guard initially surviving, but bleeding

to death after making it back to his guard shack. Both men have just spent the last few minutes speaking calmly with the Russian soldiers who appear

to let them go.

But we now see two of the soldiers return and fire on them.

YULIA PLYATS, FATHER KILLED BY RUSSIANS: My father's name is Leonid Oleksiyovych Plyats.

SIDNER: The guard's daughter, Yulia, told us then she wanted the world to know his father's name. And what the Russians did to him.

Yulia, have you seen the video?

PLYATS: I can't watch it now. I will save it to the cloud and leave it for my grandchildren, and children. They should know about this crime, and

always know who our neighbors are.

SIDNER: And now, the Bucha prosecutors' office says that with the help of CNN's story, it has finally identified one of his executioners. The

suspect's name, Nikolay Sergeevich Sokovikov.

Ukraine has informed Russia that their pretrial investigation has zeroed in on Sokovikov as the perpetrator of the cold-blooded killing. While

prosecutors will not reveal exactly how they identified this particular soldier, we have seen one part of the process being used by Ukrainian

officials, facial recognition technology.

It's really fast.

The ministry of digital transformation gets an image, loads it into the program that created, and it scrubs social media, looking for a match. Once

they have a match of a soldier, dead or alive, they try to corroborate it with friends and family on the soldier social media sites.

We have identified about 300 cases, he says. The identification of the latest suspect of war crimes was months in the making. But is at least one

step towards justice towards the families who have had something taken from them that they can never get back. The life of someone they love.

Sara Sidner, CNN.


NOBILO: A leading Russian businessman has died in a fall from a hospital window. He's at least the fifth prominent Russian to die under somewhat

suspicious circumstances this year. Ravil Maganov was the chairman of the oil giant, Lukoil. And Russian media quotes sources saying he likely died

by suicide. But a statement by Lukoil says he died with severe illness.

Lukoil has been one of the few significant Russian companies to voice concerns about Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

Let's go now to Steve Hall. He's a former CIA chief of Russian operations.

Steve, very good to speak to you again.

Apart from the avoidance discrepancy about the details of his death, saying that he died from suicide, versus a long illness, do you think it is likely

that he did die from suicide especially following suspicious deaths of between five and eight prominent Russian businessmen?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, Bianca, it's possible that he died of suicide, but my suspicion is that he had some help. And I

think it's probably more than suspicious, if you just look at some of the facts of the situation.


So, you have I think -- you know, depending on how you listen to it, between five and seven of these oligarchs who have died since the invasion

of Ukraine. Now, in the particular -- in this particular case, this particular oligarch, they have Lukoil, unfortunately for him, a couple of

months ago he put out a letter that was critical of the war in Ukraine. And this is kind of how it usually ends when you are a critical, especially of

something insensitive for Vladimir Putin, as the war in Ukraine. You oftentimes end up, you know, I'll tell you a big travel, or in the case of

this guy, much worse.

This is not uncommon, we've not just in this inside of Russia, but we have seen it outside of Russia as well. The Russian special services, the

intelligence services have killed those men considered to be enemies of the regime in Russia a number of times.

So, there is no rule of law in Russia. This is simply how things work. People know what they are led to say and what they are not allowed to say.

In this particular case, this particular individual overstepped his bounds I think, Bianca.

BURNETT: You say that this is how things work in Russia. I heard Bill Browder I think earlier referring to it as a mafia state, and that's how

people can understand it there. But how do you think that news like this would be interpreted by Russians? Would it cause any sense of alarm, even

if they are used to seeing these things, the suspicious deaths that could be suicide, could potentially be something else? Where do you think the

public mood is when they say these reports?

HALL: I think the public as well as the oligarchs, and other senior leaders in Russia understand what this means. Every once in a while,

Vladimir Putin has to do this to remind people. You have to remember, this started way back in the first instance, and sort of set this policy in

place for killing or civilian punishing people who are at odds with the regime, started Khodorkovsky who at the time, was one of the earliest


He decided he was going to step into the political realm, despite being told behind closed doors by Vladimir Putin that it was okay to keep his

millions, and do whatever he wanted with the exception of Russian politics. He decided to ignore that, and as a result, he spent the better part of a

decade in a tuberculosis-ridden jail. He was released just before the Sochi Olympics to make the West feel better about going to the Olympics, and he's

now out of Russia.

So, this is something that I think Putin does to remind his populace to control the man on the street, but more importantly, those who are in

greater danger to Putin, guys, oligarchs -- guys with lots of money and lots of power. So, this sort of message is sent periodically to remind

people where their limits are.

NOBILO: The pattern of deaths of prominent Russian businessmen that we have seen unfold this year, particularly since Russia's invasion of Ukraine

has affected energy bosses specifically. How do you interpret that?

HALL: You know, it's -- Moscow, in the Kremlin, it's very byzantine. There are a lot of reasons and thoughts that go into these decisions, as to who

is punished and how they are punished, and when they are punished, and how public it is, whether it is going to be as severe as falling out of a

hospital window, if you can believe that, slipping on ice.

A lot of it depends on not just things that we see here in the West, like opposition took a war (ph) in this case, sometimes business deals go bad,

sometimes disagreements happen behind the scenes. So, I would agree with Bill Browder that is a mafia-like state. Sometimes, we don't even know how

somebody got on the wrong side of somebody else, and ended up dead. That's just what it's like to live and work in Russia these days, Bianca.

NOBILO: Steve Hall, thank you very much for joining us, former FBI chief of Russia operations.

HALL: Sure.

NOBILO: A dispute about an overdue library book. That's the analogy that Donald Trump's lawyers are making about the retention of classified

government documents, including some of the United States' most sensitive national security secrets. The former president's team asked a judge today

to appoint an independent official to oversee the review of documents taken from Trump's estate during an FBI search.

That court hearing is now over. We won't get the judge's ruling today, but she did agree to unseal a more detailed inventory of the items seized from

Mar-a-Lago. Trump initially said that the FBI planted evidence at its home. But he now appears to acknowledge on social media that classified documents

were kept in, quote, cartons there.

The government is carrying out assessments to determine what harm may have been done to U.S. national security and all of this.

Now, let's look at the other key stories making an impact internationally today.

Flooding in Pakistan has reached the highest emergency rate according to the World Health Organization. The group is providing $10 million in aid to

the country, and Pakistan's nearly received 190 percent of rain expected over the last few months, and authorities are bracing even more flooding.

Funerals were held for four people in Basra, Iraq, after clashes among rival militant groups.


The unrest stems from a worsening power struggle between rival Shiite Muslim groups. Both sides tried to control the formation of a new

government, leaving the country without a clear leader.

Authorities in Gibraltar describe an oil leak as significant, following this week's collision between a cargo ship and a natural gas carrier. But

they say that the oil is relatively light and should be easier to clean, if any of it does reach the short. The cargo ship was beached to prevent it

from sinking in the bay of Gibraltar.

You are watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Still to come, a hodgepodge of disinformation. Beijing response to a new U.N. report about China's abuses against the Uyghur community. And we'll

debrief the significance of their findings.

And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes his last major policy announcement before he steps down on Tuesday.


NOBILO: A new U.N. report is highlighting a well-documented human rights crisis. The high commissioner of the human rights says that China's action

against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region may constitute crimes against humanity. This comes on the back of a highly

controversial trip to China earlier this year. These claims are not new. The report also says, it has no legal underpinnings.

However, activists and overseas Uyghurs are welcoming what they are calling a symbolic level of recognition, at least by the U.N. China, though, has

rejected the allegations. CNN has been investigating alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghur community for years, from tracking down detention

camps in China, to meeting families around the world who have been ripped apart by this.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What China calls a job training site, to us, looked a lot more like a prison -- high walls, barbed

wire, guard towers, things multiple experts told CNN are telltale signs of detention centers.

Images like this are rare. Few people had seen camps like this up close, because China's government tries to prevent reporters like us from seeing

them. A police officer soon reminded us of that fact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): None of us work there of our own free will.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gozira Awohan (ph) is an ethnic Kazakhs, originally from Xinjiang, who emigrated

to neighboring Kazakhstan. On a return trip to Xinjiang to visit her father in 2017, she says Chinese authorities detained her at the border.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Miriam Muhammad (ph) has been keeping a dark secret from her boys, trying to shield them from the

cruel reality of the world that they were born into, a nightmare that followed them thousands of kilometers from their homeland in Xinjiang. She

tells them, daddy is away working. The last time she heard from her husband, Muhatar Rossi (ph), he was being detained in Egypt on July 16th,


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now in Adelaide, Australia, Mahmoud Abdelahim (ph) constantly replays the only recent videos he has of

his daughter and son. He has not held his wife or their children in more than five years. He is among thousands of families from Xinjiang who've

been torn apart, according to a new Amnesty International Report.


NOBILO: That was CNN's Matt Rivers, Ivan Watson, Jomana Karadsheh and David Culver. You can find their full reports and many, many more on

To further debrief the significance of this new U.N. report, I'm joined by Sean Roberts. He's the director of the international development studies

program at George Washington University. He's been studying the Uyghur people for 30 years.

Sean, great to have you on the program. Thank you.


NOBILO: So the U.S. has welcomed this report, but it's unlikely to put pressure on Beijing, with China's ministry of foreign affairs having this

to say. Let's take a listen.


WANG WENBIN, SPOKESPERSON, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): The so-called assessment report you mentioned was designed

and fabricated firsthand by the U.S. and some Western forces, completely illegal, and invalid. It is a hodgepodge of disinformation and a political



NOBILO: So, given that and the diplomatic sensitivities of this situation, what actionable outcomes could this report have?

ROBERTS: Well, I actually think it's a pretty important development, because the Chinese government has, for so long, been pushing back on any

accusations about misdeeds related to Uyghurs, by saying that it is a conspiracy of the United States and its allies. And this is the first time

we've had a multilateral international organization under the United Nations making very clear statements, and also, using Chinese government

documents to substantiate its claims.

NOBILO: And the report included stories from those who spent time in the detention camps. Have we learned anything new regarding their treatment?

ROBERTS: Nothing new. I would say it's just, the importance of this report is that the Chinese government is going to actually have to answer to

specific accusations, because this is coming from the United Nations. Of course, we know that the United Nations does not have the power to get any

state to change its behavior, but I believe that this will create a situation where particularly if there's follow-up at the United Nations,

that will just put more and more pressure on China and will expose the fact that these claims about misinformation emanating from the United States or

its allies are really not true, and that there is actually very serious human rights abuses, if not crimes against humanity, and even potentially

genocide happening in this region of China.

NOBILO: And do you think China would feel the need, or feel obligated to respond to that pressure?

ROBERTS: Well, that's the big question. It really depends on the state itself. I mean, I have always said that the only way that the situation can

change in this region, the situation of Uyghurs can change inside China, is if the Chinese government takes action to change its behavior. Now, there

are hopes that the more pressure, the more international pressure that is applied will eventually make important people in China's governance realize

that what it's doing to the Uyghur people and related Turkish Muslims in this region is not in its best interest.


NOBILO: And how significant a day and a report do you think this is for those who have suffered at the hands of these detention camps, that have

been so personally affected by these horrors?

ROBERTS: Well, you know, I recently was talking to somebody who is a survivor, and I believe that for these people, it's very frustrating. A lot

of people who spent time in detention centers or internment camps, whatever we want to call them, have been released, they've gotten out, left the

country, and they've spoken out. These are people who are not activists. They are just felt that if they told the truth to the international

community, there would be consequences for China's government behavior.

However, I think they see time and again that there is no change in the situation, which is obviously very frustrating and traumatic.

So, I think it's a mixed bag. You know, people are elated within the Uyghur community that there is finally recognition for the United Nations, but

they also are asking, what next? What will the United Nations do to change the situation?

NOBILO: Hmm, recognition, but no progress yet. Sean Roberts, thank you so much for joining us.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

NOBILO: The outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his last major policy announcement before stepping down from his role next week. Johnson

says that Britain will invest 7 million pounds of EDF's planned Sizewell C nuclear plant. Why? It's all part of a move to make the country more energy

independent, following Russia's war in Ukraine. It will, however, be years until the plant is operational.

Johnson says there will also be more cash from the new government to tackle the cost of living crisis.

And please do make sure that you join us on CNN next Monday for the announcement of Britain's new prime minister. Myself, Max Foster, and Isa

Soares will be leading special coverage throughout the day for you.

And thank you for watching. That was THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

"WORLD SPORT" is coming up for you now.