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Don Lemon Tonight

No Let-Up In Russian Attacks Despite Claims; Putin Flexes Russian Military's Muscles; U.S. Believes Putin Being "Misinformed" By Advisers About War; Young People In Lviv Opened Shelter To Help Refugees; Chris Rock Speaks Out For First Time Since The Oscars. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 30, 2022 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The mayor of Chernihiv saying his city has been -- quote -- "colossal attacks." So, what happened to Russia's claims that it would drastically reduce its attacks on Kyiv and Chernihiv?

And through all of the destruction, what is happening with the man behind it? Well, U.S. officials say that Vladimir Putin has been misinformed by his own ministry of defense. Apparently, he didn't even know how badly the Russian military is doing in Ukraine.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY, ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: We would concur with the conclusion that Mr. Putin has not been fully informed by his ministry of defense at every turn over the last month.


LEMON (on camera): Well, the head of British intelligence saying that Russian soldiers are refusing to carry out orders, they're sabotaging equipment, even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft.

I want to bring in CNN's Hala Gorani now live for us in Lviv. Hala, hello to you. Thank you so much. We are getting this new video in from the town of Sloboda --


LEMON: -- which is roughly 12 miles from Chernihiv. We are told Ukrainian forces are back in control. That is a big deal.

GORANI: It is a big deal. And you can see, as we've been reporting over the last few weeks, that really these major battles are happening on the outskirts of Kyiv. They're not hitting the center, but they are absolutely brutal. They're brutal on the civilian revelations and they're taking a huge toll also on Russian troops.

We've seen that the army of Vladimir Putin is taking some big losses and big setbacks. And as you mentioned, officials in the U.K. and in the U.S. Intelligence Agency saying that there are reports that some of the army troops are refusing to follow orders, and also in one case accidentally shooting an aircraft. What does this mean for Zelenskyy?

LEMON: Sabotaging their own equipment.

GORANI (on camera): Sabotaging their own equipment. And we've seen video as well. We can't verify the authenticity of all of it but of some troops actually hitchhiking away from some of the positions that they were ordered to go to.

Let's listen to Volodymyr Zelenskyy because he is, as an act of defiance in itself, to address the world from the very center of the capital that Vladimir Putin wanted to take in some sort of blitz operation, this is what he said just a few hours ago about Russian promises to deescalate military activity around Kyiv and the north.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Yes, we have a negotiation process, but they're only words without anything concrete. We will not give anything away, and we will fight for every meter of our land.


GORANI (on camera): Yeah, we'll fight for every meter of our land. And It's interesting to see him there at night, in the center of the capital, Kyiv, yeah.

LEMON: We've been noticing that when -- because it runs when -- during the time that we have a break, so we can see it, I'm sure it is not live, but you see around 11:30 at night or so, it comes out. Surprising to see that he is right in his, you know, in his office, the building, the capital building.

GORANI: It is happening as -- the important thing, though, to note is -- I was speaking to Cedric Leighton, who you know well, and we talk to him often, and he said something that really stayed with me. He said, look, the western countries and the western alliance has a watch, but the Russians have a calendar.

In other words, if there is a setback around Kyiv and these parts of the country now, it doesn't mean that this is a drawback that signals that they will allow Ukraine to retain control of these territories that Vladimir Putin has his eye on. They have a long-term view of this conflict.

LEMON: In Mariupol, we have seeing the horrendous video and you saw the Red Cross building, right?

GORANI: It is just unbelievable. These are buildings that have been clearly marked, in this case clearly marked with the Red Cross symbol. This comes after the maternity hospital bombing. This comes after a theater that was used by 1,300 civilians for shelter bombed and gutted. At least 300 people killed. And now, this Red Cross building and facility targeted.

Mariupol is not Kyiv. Mariupol is full of Russian-speaking Russian ethics. This is the city that Vladimir Putin said he was "liberating" -- quote, unquote -- from neo-Nazis, and this is what he is doing to it.

LEMON: Thank you, Hala. We will see you back here in just a little bit.

I want to turn now to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who visited a town on the outskirts of Kyiv today, a town getting pummeled by Russian airstrikes.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIOANAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Missiles have struck the town of Brovary, a suburb of Eastern Kyiv, twice in the last week alone. This tangled, jagged massive metal and cladding is what is left of a massive warehouse that stored food, paper, and the beer and alcohol that's no longer allowed to be consumed under martial law.

(On camera): This happened at almost exactly the same time that the Russians were announcing the de-escalation around Kyiv. This missile struck right here. Imagine the good fortune of the truck driver who was loading up to take crates and packages and boxes of food and supplies to the supermarkets in this town and also to Kyiv.


(on camera): He managed to survive.

(Voice-over): We are told three workers were killed, but Brovary has never fallen to Russian forces. Directly west of here, Russian and Ukrainian troops have been fiercely fighting over the town of Irpin. And now, it does appear that the Russians are retreating from here. A clear indication that this war around Kyiv has simply not gone the way Russian planned.

Whatever the reason, Moscow says it's retrenching. The intercepted radio conversations, verified by "The New York Times," showed they're soldiers in distress from the very start.

UNKNOWN (on-screen translation): I urgently need refueling, water, food supplies. This is Sirena. Over.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This was west of the capital in Makariv in the very first days of the war already signaling the focus on civilians once their own so-called properties were out of harms' way.

UNKNOWN (on-screen translation): There was a decision made to remove the first "property from the residential area and to cover the residential area with artillery. Over.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This security video shows a Russian-armored vehicle just blowing up a car, instantly killing the elderly couple inside.

Ukraine has lost its fighters, too. Here, in the Brovary cemetery, Boris, the caretaker, shows us freshly-dug graves.

(On camera): This guy, this soldier died on the very first day of the war.


AMANPOUR (on camera): It's raining. It's drizzling here today. It is almost as if the city is crying as it mourns its war dead, because all of these graves are for the fighters of this place who have fallen in combat since this war began.

This grave has been dug, but the family can't yet bury their son, a soldier who is fighting in a village 15 kilometers away, but held by the Russians. They haven't yet been able to get his body released.

(Voice-over): And even Boris's heart breaks when he tells me about a father who has just lost his son, his only child, and who asked, what do I have to live for now?

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Brovary, Ukraine.


LEMON (on camera): Thanks very much for that, Christiane.

I want to turn now to CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton for what is next in this fight. Colonel, hello to you. The Pentagon says about 20% of Russia's forces that had been moving against Kyiv are repositioning now with some heading to Belarus likely to resupply and probably deploy elsewhere in Ukraine. How does that happen in an active battlefield?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Yeah, that's very difficult, Don. Good evening to you. The Belarusian border is right here in north of Kyiv, right, in this area right here. So, what they're going to have to do is they're going to have to go this way to replenish their supplies.

The problem that they're going to have, though, is they're going to have to transverse areas that the Ukrainians are active in right now. And if, you know, the past is prologue in this particular case, you are going to see a lot of action on the way back -- for these troops on their way back to Belarus or even to Russia, which is just right here.

So, it's going to be a very problematic thing for them to do, Don, and I don't know that they can actually pull it off. They couldn't really pull it off coming into Kyiv, and it's going to be very hard for them to pull off any type of withdrawal as sparse as it will be to go back to Belarus or to Russia.

LEMON: Colonel, the U.K. intelligence chief says that Russian soldiers' morale is so low that some are refusing to carry out orders, they're sabotaging their own gear, even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft. How bad is command and control if they're shooting down their own aircraft?

LEIGHTON: It's really bad. That is almost a cardinal sin in warfare, when you shoot your own aircraft down and when you have what is called combat fratricide. This is a very significant issue for the Russians because every single thing that they end up doing is really postulated on them being able to have a synchronized plan of operations.

But when they do the things like this, when they should down their own aircraft, have morale problems like this, they actually are losing that synchronicity of operations. And what that means is they are not moving forward in a fashion that is in concert with any type of plan that I've ever worked with and it certainly is not in concert with any objectives that any rational military force would have. So, it's very detrimental to the Russian war plan.

LEMON: Mariupol is getting obliterated by Russian forces firing from the Sea of Azov. If the city is just days from falling, does that mean the Russian's next target will be Odessa?


That is very likely. Of course, Mariupol is over here and Odessa is over here in the western part of the country, but if Mariupol is taken, and that's, you know, I think almost a certainty given the type of destruction that we see there and the types of activity that we're seeing in this part of Ukraine, it is pretty clear that the Russians will want to move to the west from Kherson and also try something from the sea.

There is basically a blockade. There are about 22 ships still, Russian ships still in the Black Sea. Many of them have the capacity to send a cruise missile into Odessa or any other places that they can target from the Black Sea. And so, it is highly likely that the port area Odessa, because it is Ukraine's main port, the third largest city, it is highly likely that this is going to be next on the list.

So, it really calls into question the idea that the Russians are retrenching or doing things differently than they have with the first phase of the war.

LEMON: A human rights group says that Russian forces have used banned antipersonnel mines in the Eastern Kharkiv region. What can you tell us about these weapons, colonel?

LEIGHTON: So, these weapons are among the most heinous weapons of war. Antipersonnel mines is distinct from antitank mines, coming basically two varieties, blast mines and fragmentation mines. Here is an example of a mine. If you look very carefully, you can see the top part of it is here and the buried part is right here. It is partially buried and partially concealed by what looks like broken-up asphalt in this area. The main purpose of these antipersonnel mines is to maim people, to wound them severely, to blow off limbs, and to do things that really are prevented by many of the rules of war.

If you remember, Princess Diana had this as a very big effort before she passed away and this is something that there is an international treaty that governs these mines, but the United States, Russia, China, Israel and a few other nations don't abide by that treaty.

LEMON: Colonel, thank you so much. We'll see you again tomorrow.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Don. Thank you.

LEMON (on camera): The suburb of Irpin under fire today.



LEMON: Listen to that. Those explosions rocking the town. And the video you're about to see is very graphic. Rescue teams carrying the bodies of people killed in the strikes. Hard to watch, but important to see the true cost of this war.


LEMON: Let's bring in now Kira Rudik. She is a member of Ukrainian parliament. Kira, we appreciate you joining us. Horrific scenes playing out. I mean, we see the video of it. This is happening in real time and real life.

Russia may claim that troops are moving away from Kyiv, but you say that the shelling in Ukraine's capital is worse than ever. What has it been like for you?

KIRA RUDIK, MEMBER, UKRAINE PARLIAMENT: Hello. Thank you so much for having me. So, this night was also heavy in Kyiv. There was intensive shelling, which means that Russians may be retreating on the ground, where we are fighting them very well, but they continue destroying and killing us in the air.

This is just another example of the way that they're fighting this war, without any mercy, without any rules, and obviously not keeping their word, even if they are giving one.

So, what you have seen in the outskirts of the city is just one example of what is happening throughout the country. This is, obviously, extremely disheartening. At some point, we'll have to reveal all of this. At some point, we will understand the total destruction that was made and the amount of people whose lives were destroyed, the amount of people who were killed by this war.

It goes without speaking that our main goal right now is to make sure that we keep our people safe and we don't lose more and more civilians. But what we see right now, the Russians specifically are targeting civilians. And probably the worst thing that you can do is to put that Red Cross on the building. The worst thing that you can do for your city is to say, oh, it's children here, they are located right here, because they could be exactly the thing that Russians would hit next to cause more devastation.


For the last -- for the last couple of weeks, we have seen that they are targeting specifically two types of buildings. The first type would be the civilian buildings that they are sure where children or women or wounded are. And the second one would be the storages of gas and oil.

So, we know that comes next. first, more and more destruction. And second, that Ukraine, at some point, will be just out of resources and ability to fuel our army and fuel our vehicles.

So, we are strategically getting ready to fixing that. However, again, and I will repeat once again, on the 36th day of war, until we get the support in the air that we require, until we get the fire jets, until we get the air force protection, it will be extremely hard for us to win this war.

LEMON: If you can believe anything the Russians say, how can any type of agreement come out of these talks and how does this war end?

RUDIK: Well, the only ideal disagreement (ph) in my heart is that we still continue getting people out of the city. So, Russians are using right now -- getting the humanitarian convoys out as a bargaining chip, which, okay, just let people out because they're dying of starvation, but to get to the peace, we would need the security guarantees from the western countries. This is for sure.

There is no agreement one-to-one with Russia. We know that they will break their word. But if we get the security guarantees from NATO countries, from other countries -- we already received the confirmation from Turkey that they will definitely support us in these guarantees, that they will be in written and these guarantees will definitely help us to push Russia away -- then this peace may happen.

However, once again, that needs to be not only just a couple of countries, it needs to be the new global security agreement, the new global security setup, that will allow us, at some point, to push the Russians back to Russia and then make sure that they will never come back again.

LEMON: Kira Rudik, a member of Ukrainian parliament, thank you. Be safe. We appreciate you joining us.

And we have more breaking news tonight. President Biden weighing, releasing a record amount of oil from U.S. reserves, about one million barrels a day. Price of oil has spiked during the war in Ukraine. The announcement could reportedly come as soon as tomorrow.

Vladimir Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine shocking the world, but it is what's happening in Ukraine. History repeating itself now? Chechnya, Syria, the country of Georgia. Putin has taken what he wants. Will he be stopped this time?



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON (on camera): The Biden administration believes Vladimir Putin has been misinformed by his defense officials about how poorly the Russian military is doing in Ukraine. How that ultimately impacts the invasion remains to be seen. But keen observers of Putin will tell you that he has been flexing Russia's military muscles for more than two decades.

More tonight from CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian troops fresh from battle cruising through the devastated streets of a deserted city virtually leveled by rockets and artillery fire. You can see the apartment blocks in the background reduced to rubble.

Could easily be Ukraine in the past few weeks, but this is footage from 22 years ago in Chechnya, a breakaway Russian region brutally suppressed by the Kremlin, an early glimpse of how uncompromising Vladimir Putin would be.

(On camera): The almost unanimous opinion of these soldiers is that if he is elected on Sunday, Vladimir Putin will make a strong president to lead this country and its armed forces.

(Voice-over): At the time, he vowed to chase terrorists to the toilet and wipe them out in the outhouse. He later expressed regret for those words, but not the actions.

Europe's first war of the 21st century was also Putin's war. The tiny Georgian enclave of South Ossetia was a backwater of the former Soviet Union. But it was here that Putin got a taste of violating international boundaries, intervening to support the breakaway region, pounding Georgian forces, and rolling his tanks across the border.

(On camera): There has been a lot of speculation about where the Russian troops are. Well, here they are. Well, inside Georgian territory and outside the main conflict zone of South Ossetia. The big question is, how far will they go?

(Voice-over): Then, as now, the invasion provoked international score.


(voice-over): But just after the short Georgia war, Putin seemed confident relations with the west would endure.

(On camera): Do you think that this is a turning point in relations between Russia and the west? Do you think that period of postwar calm has come to an end?


CHANCE (voice-over): He was right. The western backlash against a resurging Russia never came, until this.

In 2014, protesters toppled the pro-Russian president in neighboring Ukraine and Putin moved quickly to secure Russian interest.

(On camera): Well, astonishing developments in Crimea because without a shot being fired, Russia has moved into the Ukrainian territory. And despite international condemnation, effectively brought it under its control. Sanctions followed, but so too did an unstoppable wave of nationalism.

President Putin, the victor of Crimea, had for many Russians restored a sense of pride.

PUTIN (through translator): We understand that it is not about the territory which we have enough of, it is about historical roots of spirituality and statehood. It is about what makes us a nation and a united unified nation.

CHANCE (voice-over): Soon, Putin unleashed his growing military swagger, even farther afield. The shock and awe of Russian airstrikes in Syria propped up the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Each missile helping to change the course of the Syrian conflict and sending a potent message of Russian resurgence.

(On camera): This really does feel like the center of a massive Russian military operation. The air is filled with the smell of jet fuel. And the ground shutters with the roar of those warplanes returning from their bombing missions.

(Voice-over): And now, the missiles and bombs are being heard once again. And Putin's destruction in Chechnya, then Georgia, then Syria, is now being visited on Ukraine. Of course, he has written out tough sanctions and international condemnation before, but this time, it is unclear how much support Putin has at home.

(On camera): This is one of those Russian Soviet era vehicles which has completely burned out.

(Voice-over): Given painful Russian losses on the battlefield, it is unclear, too, whether he will now double down as he has in the past or back down like never before.

Matthew Chance, CNN.


LEMON (on camera): Thank you, Matthew. It is an incredible report there. If Vladimir Putin has been misinformed by his advisers, what is he doing now to know the truth? Right? How is he going to get out? And why is former President Trump still asking Putin, who has been called a war criminal, to do him political favors?




LEMON: Misinformed. That's how a U.S. official characterizes the information Vladimir Putin is getting from his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing in Ukraine. That official going on to say -- quote -- "His senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth."

So, someone who is not afraid to tell the truth is our counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd. Philip, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us.

Look, Russia clearly looks like it made some big missteps. And now, we're learning about this intelligence. What do you think? Would it even make any difference in Vladimir Putin's choices if they were telling him the truth?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm not sure it would, but I doubt the truth is penetrating the inner circle. I think Americans are way too optimistic on this. I am not.

Let's look at some of the pieces around anybody like Vladimir Putin, whether you're in North Korea, whether you're in Russia, whether you're in Iran. You just mentioned one of the pieces, Don. That is the inner circle is not going to tell him the truth.

Let us take another piece, the media. When he turns on the TV, what is he seeing? Russian-controlled media that, as we know over the past few months, has eliminated any sense of dissent.

What are the Russian people seeing? The same thing Putin would be seeing when he turns on the TV. We are winning. What does a junior officer is seeing in the military?

This is really important. When you're thinking about things like morale and the will to move, to continue to move against the Ukrainians. They are seeing or hearing what their superiors are telling them, which is the same thing Putin is saying, the same thing the leadership is saying, the same thing that the media is saying.

I think the westerners like us want to believe that Putin might be seeing reality. Don, I am doubtful.

LEMON: So, why is it so hard to get into his inner circle? Like, what is that all about? And to get accurate information from them?

MUDD: I think there's a couple of reasons. Number one is fear. Obviously, if you look at what has happened in political opposition, what has happened to journalists, what has happened, as I mentioned, to journalists who want to present a different view, they will be eliminated. I think that's too simplistic though.

Let me add a different layer of sophistication to that. People in the inner circle watch liberals leave.

[23:35:00] You saw the environmental minister leave a few weeks ago. And they're going to say not as an indication that we should reconsider what we're thinking. They're going to say those are people who don't believe in the reestablishment of the real Russia. Those are people who are weak. Those are people who are liberals. We shouldn't listen to them. When they leave, that reaffirms that only the strong survive and only the strong stay.

I think it's a real indication, what we're seeing now, of what we've seen in other totalitarian regimes. The inner circle says, they're right, and nobody else, nobody else can get within that circle, Don.

LEMON: Let's talk about America. The U.S. has been open about a lot of the intel it has on Russian --

MUDD: Yeah.

LEMON: -- from the very get-go, essentially telegraphing Russia's every move. A lot of it has turned out to be true like Russian's initial invasion. What do you think the U.S. is trying to do by releasing all this intel publicly?

MUDD: I'm finding this really interesting as a guy who used to protect secrets, watching the secrets roll out the door. There are couple things going on. The first generation of intelligence a few weeks ago was trying to unify the Europeans, saying, we see every move, don't be confused by these moves, don't be persuaded by Putin, he's building up troops, he's going to move in. That intel was very good.

Now, we're seeing a different kind of intelligence trying, I think, to sow dissent within Putin's inner circle, talking about things like differences between defense officials and Putin.

I think this is fascinating. I don't think it hurts American intelligence because you don't know where this stuff came from, so you can't figure out how to root it out. But be clear, the intel has transition. How to unite Europeans, how to slowly maybe, maybe -- I'm not sure to word -- but maybe sow dissent among the people who have to support Putin not only in Ukraine but for years ahead.

LEMON: Why do you think -- what has happened -- how do I want to say this? Our intelligence, you know, the so-called great Russian army. Everyone around the world is so afraid of the Russian army. And then we see what's happening. I mean, you have this small country, quite frankly, Ukraine, holding back this enormous army. What happened? Why did we think that the Russians were so powerful and has such a powerful military?

MUDD: Finally, somebody asked me this question after like two months. Finally, I get -- I've been waiting for this forever. Let me give you a simple explanation.

LEMON: You're welcome.

MUDD: Thank you, Don Lemon. There are two pieces in any intelligence problem. What somebody can do? That is capability. How many tanks they've got? How many armored personnel carriers? How many people? What somebody can do, that's capability.

Let's take another basket. What they will do and what they want to do. If you went into Ukraine two months ago, could you have guaranteed that the Ukrainians would have had the will to resist like that? I'm not talking about tanks. I'm not talking about planes. And could you have guaranteed that the Russians, even with their expertise, in tactics, with their military manpower, with their tanks, that they would not have the will and the morale to proceed?

The hardest thing in intel is getting in somebody's brain. We might have under-anticipated how tough the Ukrainians were and overestimated whether the Russians would move on.

I don't think this is an intel failure. I think it's a classic case of trying to get in somebody's brain and feeling. We didn't know what they felt and the Ukrainians showed us they're going to fight.

LEMON: Thank you very much for that.

MUDD: Thanks for asking, Don. Finally. Thank you.


LEMON: I've been wanting everybody wants to know. Thank you, Phil. I appreciate it. I will see you soon. You be well. Yeah.

From a coffee shop and a bar to a refugee shelter. I met with the young journalist here in Lviv doing everything she can to help her fellow Ukrainians find a place to stay.




LEMON (on camera): The U.N. now saying four million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion more than a month ago. But many who have remained in this besieged country are trying to help their fellow Ukrainians.

Today, I visited a shelter here in Lviv put together by some young Ukrainians. It is a performance space with shops that is now housing displaced people seeking safety from Russian shelling.


NADIYA OPRYSHKO, JOURNALIST WHO OPENED A SHELTER IN LVIV: This was a photo studio and TikTok room. Now, it is a shelter.

LEMON (voice-over): When bombs started falling on her country, 29- year-old journalist Nadiya Opryshko knew she had to act.

OPRYSHKO: One day, morning, 24th of February, we woke up and we understand that this war is coming in all territory of Ukraine.

LEMON (on camera): So, everything changed.

OPRYSHKO: Everything changed.

LEMON (voice-over): So, she and her friends found it, what might be Lviv's most eclectic shelter, in a building that she calls the "wild house." On the first floor, a coffee shop and bar along with a clothing shop. Upstairs, a performance space. All of it used to shelter evacuees when the war began.

OPRYSHKO: We put (ph) young adults to feel that he can be not just passive (ph) on this war. We decided, what we can do?


Oh, we have a place. And we understand that a lot of people, like our friends, started to come (INAUDIBLE). And they need a place to stay.

The next day, we took the first things that we can take from our place like pillows, like medicine and food.

LEMON (voice-over): They provided housing for more than 300 people.

OPRYSHKO: There was a big table. You can take some tea, coffee, everything was free.

LEMON (voice-over): Now, evacuees live here, across the hall from a barbershop. Oleg Malapura is one of those stranded here, unsure when or if he will be able to return to his home in the Donetsk region.

OLEG MALAPURA, DISPLACED BY WAR: I have no idea. I dream about this, but it is very hard and I think some years I need wait.

LEMON (voice-over): But he is grateful to have a safe place in Lviv, found through his friends.

MALAPURA: Thanks God, thanks my friends, thanks mu lucky fate that I find this place.

LEMON (voice-over): As the war continues, Opryshko is working to place the displaced in an informal network of 20 small shelters across the city.

OPRYSHKO: We want to give care and support to other people.

LEMON (voice-over): Doing good in the midst of the bad.

OPRYSHKO: When people, kids, families, they are in danger, you need to do the best with what you can.

LEMON (on camera): Yeah.

OPRYSHKO: And so, we did.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON (on camera): Nice job, Nadiya. Nice job. We will be right back.




LEMON (on camera): This is breaking news. Comedian Chris Rock speaking out for the first time since Will Smith slapped him on stage at Sunday's Academy Awards. Rock kicking off his comedy tour in Boston tonight, saying that he has got something to say, but maybe not yet.

The comedian telling the audience at an earlier performance tonight, I had written a whole show before this weekend. I'm still processing what happened, so at some point I'll talk "S." It'll be serious. It'll be funny, but right now I'm going to tell some jokes.

At a second show just moments ago, he implied that he hasn't talked to Smith since the slap. Rocks fans telling CNN they stand behind him.


JAY FROM PEABODY, MASSACHUSETTS: I think personally that Will Smith was kind of in the wrong. A comedian is a comedian. Unfortunately, they say what they say.

JEAN FROM BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS: Obviously, the person instigating violence is in the wrong. Right?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): How do you think Chris Rock handled himself?

AARON FROM CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS: Amazing. His reaction was consistent with what would you think a host would react.


LEMON (on camera): All right. Will Smith now facing possible disciplinary action from the Academy.

CNN's Brian Todd has more now.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has initiated disciplinary proceedings against the actor, Will Smith, for violating the Academy standards of conduct, according to a statement from the Academy. Violations which it says include inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy, when Smith slapped Chris Rock live at the Oscars.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: That was a nice one. Okay. I'm out here. Oh, wow! Wow!

TODD (voice-over): In its statement, the Academy also apologized to Rock and said Will Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused.

Comedian Wanda Sykes, one of the three co-hosts of the Oscars, broke her silence on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show.

WANDA SYKES, CO-HOST OF OSCARS: And I just felt so awful for my friend, you know, Chris, and it was sickening. It was absolutely sickening. I physically fell ill, and I am still a little traumatized by it.

TODD (voice-over): Syke's co-host, Amy Schumer, posted a statement on Instagram, saying, I'm still in shock and stunned and sad. An uncensored feed from a Japanese outlet shows how Rock and Smith reacted immediately afterwards.

ROCK: Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: Keep my wife's name out of your (bleep) mouth!

ROCK: Wow, dude.

SMITH: Yeah.

ROCK: It was a G.I. Jane joke.

SMITH: Keep my wife's name out of your (bleep) mouth!

TODD (voice-over): How could the Academy punish Smith?

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: I can't see them possibly taking steps about his membership at the academy. I mean, they could remove him from the Academy. They could take away his voting rights for future Oscar votes. They could take away his participation in other Academy events. And they could ban him from coming back next year. I think that is most likely.

TODD (voice-over): What most observers do not expect is for the Academy to take away the Oscar that Smith just won for best actor in the movie "King Richard." The Academy did not take Oscars away from Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein after sexual assault allegations were leveled against him.


(voice-over): And Director Roman Polanski was awarded an Oscar while he was a fugitive from the U.S., decades after he pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a minor.

The Academy did expel Weinstein, and once expelled actor Carmine Caridi for violating the Academy's voting rules.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


LEMON (on camera): What a mess. Brian Todd, thank you for that.

Thank you for watching, everyone. Our live coverage continues.


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HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world and in the United States this hour. I'm Hala Gorani reporting live from Lviv in Ukraine.