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Turmoil in Kazakhstan as Putin Again Seizes on Unrest to Try to Expand Influence; Djokovic Row Over Vaccine Rules; Europe Struggles with Rising COVID Fueled by Omicron; Kazakhstan Protests: President: Constitutional Order Mainly Restored, Growing Outcry Over Mishandling Of Xi-An Lockdown; U.S. Marks First Anniversary Of Capitol Attack. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 02:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. I'm Lynda Kinkade. This is "CNN Newsroom."

Coming up, flexing its muscle. Russia seizes on the unrest in Kazakhstan, sending troops across the border.

And detained in a hotel, in limbo. Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic is polarizing Australians and fans across the world.

And Italy imposes fines for older people who are unvaccinated. Just one of the latest measures to get COVID under control.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from Atlanta, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Lynda Kinkade.

KINKADE: We begin in Kazakhstan where the government announces it is in full control of all of its buildings in the city of Almaty. Those buildings were stormed by protesters during massive anti-government rallies this week.

State media says 26 -- quote -- "armed criminals" were killed along with 18 security forces during the unrest. More than 700 law enforcements officials were injured and 3,000 protesters were reportedly detained.

Well, more violent clashes broke up Thursday with security forces firing on protesters, according to a Russian state news agency.

Meanwhile, Moscow now has boots on the ground in Kazakhstan with what is being described as a peacekeeping force from an alliance of former Soviet states. The group says it's mission will be short and limited in scope. The U.S. says it will keep a close eye on what the troops will do in Kazakhstan.


NED PRICE, SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT (voice-over): The United States and frankly the world will be watching for any violations of human rights. We will also be watching for any actions that may lay the predicate for the seizure of Kazakh institutions. We certainly hope it does not come to that. We will be watching very closely. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE (on camera): Our Nina Dos Santos is keeping an eye on the developments in Kazakhstan and joins us now from London. Good to have you with us, Nina. So, Russian troops now in the country at the request of the president who has resigned. And already, we are seeing these protests have turned deadly, both for protesters and police.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really unclear where Kazakhstan goes from here largely because it is unclear at this point, Lynda, what exactly the scope of that Russian-led mission, this CSTO, the security collective of post-Soviet states that includes two autocracies, one of them being, of course, Belarus, and the large (INAUDIBLE), those troops coming from Russia, coming at a time.

And, of course, Vladimir Putin is being very vocal, particularly in places like Ukraine where troops have been building up there about wanting to reinforce this post-Soviet sphere of influence for Russia.

So, this is why people are really concerned. Kazakhstan isn't quite Ukraine but it is a very important country that lies on the fault lines between Russia to the north but also China to its east as well. And it is a very big country. It's a very energy-rich country. And so, this could be crucial.

So, in terms of the latest figures, we've seen these alarming pictures coming from Almaty, which is the former capital city, the largest (INAUDIBLE) in Kazakhstan, where people have been taking to the streets for about a week already dozens -- two dozen protesters, according to the interior ministry, are known to have lost their lives. The real figures, some people say, could be much, much higher than that. Thousands are arrested and also hundreds are injured. But the security forces themselves have also suffered casualties, too.

The question for Kazakhstan is whether or not, at this point, the fact that they've invited in these Russian troops and troops from other countries, it is going to be affecting the long-term sovereignty and their ability to govern themselves at a time?

And as I said, this is an energy-rich country. It is a country that has only really known up until the current new -- relatively new president, Tokayev, one leader, that was Nursultan Nazarbayev, for decades. Will Kazakhstan here at this point manage it?

Will it -- will these protests turn into something more long term or will these Russian troops signal, as I was saying before, issue for sovereignty to Kazakhstan and further down the line? And, of course, more concerns about potential abuses of power in the short term.


KINKADE: Yes, that leads to some serious questions over how that will play out with Russian troops on the ground there. And Nina, you've been to Kazakhstan on several occasions. Give us some perspective on the issues at stake, because this started over protesters (INAUDIBLE), but protesters have a long list of grievances.

DOS SANTOS: Yes, they do, and they haven't really had many ways of airing those grievances apart from on the streets, and this is what you hear time and time again from academics who cover Kazakhstan. They will say, well, the attempt to try and create some civil society institutions and activist groups and so on and so forth in Kazakhstan has been resilient, but they don't really have much of an opportunity to protest apart from on the streets.

It appears as though what we are seeing is two sorts of collected groups on the streets there. You have on the one hand people who really have taken to the streets because they have nothing to lose at this point.

The cost of living in Kazakhstan has been rising for quite some time, but really what has inflamed tensions here is removing subsidies on fuel prices on Sunday that caused the energy price to (INAUDIBLE). That caused to absolutely spike. That has added to another litany of complaints that people have. And really, also another issue that Kazakhs have been agreed about for many years, Lynda, has been corruption.

So, the question is, will these protests lead to something further changes in terms of that? And also, could previous governments have done more to listen to those concerns so that it didn't have to get to this point? Lynda?

KINKADE (on camera): Yeah, exactly. Nina Dos Santos, great perspective from you. Thanks so much for joining us from London. We will dig deeper into situation in Kazakhstan in about half an hour when an expert of post-Soviet politics in the region will join me live.

Well, the Professional Tennis Players Association says it has been in contact with Novak Djokovic and verified his well-being. The world's number one player was denied entry to Australia for allegedly not meeting vaccination requirements and he could be deported. A court hearing has been set for Monday just one week before the Australian Open begins.

CNN's Phil Black has more.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rally in Soviet's capital. A huge crowd joined Novak Djokovic' family, demanding freedom for a national hero.

SRDJAN DJOKOVIC, FATHER OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC: They are holding him captive, our Novak, our pride. Novak is Serbia and Serbia is Novak.

BLACK (voice-over): His mother's emotions are more personal.

DIJANA DJOKOVIC, MOTHER OF NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Feel terrible since yesterday, the last 24 hours, that they are keeping him as a prisoner. It is just not fair. It is not human. BLACK (voice-over): This is the (INAUDIBLE) building in Melbourne, Australia where Djokovic is now reportedly confined. A hotel, recently used to quarantine returning travelers, now housing asylum seekers and the world's number one tennis player.

D. DJOKOVIC: Terrible condition. It is just some small immigration hotel, if it is hotel at all, with some bugs, with -- it is so dirty and the food is so terrible.

BLACK (voice-over): Outside that hotel, Melbourne Serbian community is rallying, too, furious at Djokovic's treatment.

UNKNOWN: Freedom for Djokovic today and forever!

BLACK (voice-over): There is less concern from Djokovic from one of his greatest rivals, the 6th ranked, Rafael Nadal.

RAFAEL NADAL, 20-TIME GRAND SLAM WINNER: If he wanted, he will be playing here in Australia without a problem, no? He went through another -- he makes his own decisions. And everybody is free to take their own decisions, but then there are some consequences.

BLACK (voice-over): The consequences in this case could alter the future of world-class tennis. Spain's Nadal, Djokovic, and the Swiss player, Roger Federer, have each won 20 grand slam tournaments. Federer isn't playing in the Australian Open. So, Djokovic is deported. That would leave Nadal with an easier run to potentially win his 21st title, statistically becoming the greatest of all time. Nadal, unlike Djokovic, is open and proud of his vaccination status.

NADAL: I believe in what the people who knows about medicine say. The people say that we need to get vaccinated. We need to get vaccinated. We need to get the vaccine. That's my point of view.

BLACK (voice-over): This picture shows Djokovic at Melbourne Airport's passport control shortly after his arrival, trying and ultimately failing to convince border officials he should be allowed into the country. His lawyers will argue the case again before a Melbourne court on Monday. But even if they're successful, there is little chance of calming Australia's public and political outrage.


BARNABY JOYCE, AUSTRALIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Sometimes, I get a sense that people who make a lot of money start believing they've evolved somehow above the laws of the land whether they like them or not.

BLACK (voice-over): Phil Black, CNN, London.


KINKADE (on camera): CNN's Angus Watson is following the story for us from Sydney and joins us now live. So, Angus, Serbia claims the tennis champ is being treated -- he is being held captive. His parents say he is being treated like a prisoner. But that is far from the case. The Australian government says he is being treated like an antiimmigrant coming into the country without the right paperwork.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Yeah, that's right, Lynda. It is extraordinary to think that the men's number one tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, one of the most recognizable sports stars around the globe, is being held in an immigration detention facility in Melbourne, where he is waiting to see if his deportation order will be upheld or whether his lawyers will be able to fight that. His next in court until Monday, so he will remain in this immigration detention center for the next coming days, at least.

Now, outside there right now, it is beginning to rain, but we have seen crowds gathering in support of Novak Djokovic. Some outspoken members of Melbourne Serbian community coming out to show their support for their hero, their number one.

Also, people coming out to show their support for the other people that are locked up in there with Novak Djokovic, some of who have been in the Australian immigration detention system for years now, who are there indefinitely because they arrived as refugees by boat.

There's one person in there who is a translator for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. There's a Rohingya in there from Myanmar. There are people in there from Iran or who say that they're in there indefinitely. One person speaking today to CNN said that he wishes that he just had a sentence, a timeframe that he can serve out to know how long he has to be remaining within the immigration detention system in Australia, denied his freedom.

So, I think that this case of Novak Djokovic being stuck there with these people in this hotel-turned immigration facility will really shine a spotlight on some of Australia's tough border policies that existed before the era of COVID-19. Lynda?

KINKADE: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Unlike a lot of the other people in that detention center, he has the means to appeal this decision. He is going to go to court or his team -- his legal team on Monday. Just give us an indication of what his lawyers will argue when they make this case.

WATSON: Well, a lot of experts here, legal experts here in Australia are saying this case has the potential to drag on for quite some time, days or perhaps even weeks. We will wait to hear whether his deportation is upheld.

Now, the federal government is arguing that he did the -- the medical exemption that he had to enter the country unvaccinated didn't match up with his visa, so they canceled his visa.

Novak Djokovic's lawyers will argue that the medical exemption was there. It was supported by official recommendations from Australia's immunization body. And we believe here, it has been reported in the media, that it is the likelihood to know that Djokovic had had a recent COVID-19 infection that was enabling him to come into the country unvaccinated, that he had some immunity from that infection. There's a question with the federal government as to whether that meets their very high standards, Lynda. We will see how that plays out next week.

KINKADE: Yeah, we will be watching that closely as well as the rest of the world. Angus Watson, good to have you in Sydney for us. Thank you so much.

We will be staying on this story. Ben Rothenberg is the senior editor at Racquet Magazine, and joins us now live from Melbourne. Good to have you with us.


KINKADE: So, given his antivaccine comments in the past, it sounds likely that he is unvaccinated. Give us a sense of the feeling in Australia right now as COVID cases continue to rise, as we hear about new restrictions being rolled out, particularly in Sydney. Is his case getting much sympathy?

ROTHENBERG: Maybe a little bit as it goes on. But certainly, when the exemption was first announced by Djokovic, that he was coming to Australia and entering to play at the Australian Open with an exemption, this created a lot of anger and a lot of resentment here.

People here are taking a lot of pride, national pride and local pride within Melbourne and Victoria, which is particularly hard-hit, at following the rules and making collective sacrifices in order to do the best to get through the pandemic as best possible. And Djokovic showing up and saying that he found a way to get around mandatory vaccination rules with an exemption really irked a lot of people.

To put it mildly, this star athlete was seen as getting somehow different treatment or different set of rules applying to him. And it comes at a time when there is rising cases in Melbourne, shortage of tests and things like that, long lines for testing.


ROTHENBERG: It came at a time where he became a very sort of attractive scapegoat for national anchor. That was also probably followed by the political officials who saw this as a chance to stand up to Djokovic and be tough on this issue (INAUDIBLE) with their constituents.

KINKADE: Yeah, and people in Australia being so frustrated by what they have been dealing with for the last 20 months or so. But I have to wonder why Tennis Australia did not run this by the federal government before he got on the plane, before he turned up at the airport in Melbourne.

ROTHENBERG: Yeah, there really does seem to be a miscommunication that is largely (INAUDIBLE) now the responsibility of Tennis Australia who had been advised in communications repeatedly last fall from the -- or last November, I should say -- from the federal health officials who told them that this would not be a permitted way to get in, having a recent COVID positive in the last six months, which is what we believe Djokovic's exemption was trying to fall under.

They have been given those communications directly with Craig Tiley, who is in charge of this, and for some reason, that message got dropped between the federal level and the state level and the Tennis Australia committee that was evaluating the exemption request.

And so, Djokovic was given an impression that things were squared away and he was good to go, and good to get on a plane to come to Australia when really that was not the case.

And once he communicated that he was coming with an exemption, the federal government had about 24 hours to sort of more rigorously scrutinize what he is coming in with and be prepared to (INAUDIBLE) him uneasily.

Again, because he had been the source of so much national resentment, he probably got even more attention, although it is not clear how flimsy his application might have been. Even maybe perhaps with standard scrutiny that any traveler would get, it still might have been found wanting (ph).

We do know from reports here that he had less documentation to support his application and a couple of other people who got in through the tennis exemption program, who had more doctors' notes, who had more documents with them to support their exemptions than Djokovic had brought with him.

KINKADE: Yeah. I mean, Australia had some of the world's toughest restrictions. Melbourne, one of the world's longest lockdowns. Djokovic and his team out of touch here?

ROTHENBERG: I think so. I think the picture of him, you know, with the big grin, saying that he was getting an exemption and coming on the plane, was only going to infuriate the majority of people down here. Obviously, he has a contingent of fans, especially the Serbian community in Melbourne and around Australia, but largely, he's not an especially popular athlete here despite being incredibly successful here.

They should have known this would inflame things. And if he had made it on court uninterrupted or if he eventually does win his appeal for his deportation and makes it on court, it is going to be very interesting, to put it mildly, to see how the crowds react to him at the Australian Open. Tennis fans are not known for hostile reception. They are known for being very cordial and polite to all players.

But Djokovic would test those sorts of ethos and really -- and make it very tough. I think a lot of people will find it very tough to root for him after what has sort of come to symbolize in the Australian popular consciousness right now.

KINKADE: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, we will have to see how this plays out and see what sort of case his lawyers make. But I think there will be a lot of shock if he does end up playing, I'm sure. Ben Rothenberg, we have to leave it there.

ROTHENBERG: Thank you very much.

KINKADE: Thank you so much. We will talk again soon. Thanks.

Still ahead on "CNN Newsroom," while some countries in Europe are orbiting after vaccinated international travelers, others implementing tougher measures to avoid a lockdown as the Omicron variant spreads. We have a live report from Paris when we come back.




KINKADE (on camera): Well, things just got a little easier for those traveling to the U.K. despite soaring coronavirus cases. Fully vaccinated arrivals on those under the age of 18 no longer need to submit a pre-departure negative PCR test. Instead, they have to take a rapid lateral flow test within two days of entering the country and isolate, if possible.

Austria, on the other hand, is imposing tougher restrictions that includes stepping up inspections to ensure businesses are limiting access to those who are vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID.


KARL NEHAMMER, AUSTRALIAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): One worry, which should concern all of us, is that there could be another lockdown. That is why a common effort is needed now, and no one is excluded from mitch. Germany, as our neighbor, shows that it is certainly possible for both large and small stores to carry out checks.


KINKADE (on camera): Well, the French health ministry says more than 9,200 classrooms have shut down across the country in the past month because of COVID infections. That's more than triple the number of closures since December.

Well, for more on that and other COVID headlines in Europe, I'm joined by our Jim Bitttermann in Paris. Good to see you, Jim. So, despite the fact that we are seeing these record-breaking infection numbers, students have returned to school.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have returned to school, they returned to school on Monday, but even since then, since they returned to school, more than 47,000 students have tested positive and more than 5,000 school personnel have tested positive, which is why they have closed down the number of schools, they have closed down a number of classrooms. Now, have imposed from the beginning of school, on Monday, they imposed a number of new testing rules to keep classes open, a very confusing set of rules. They required, among other things, for parents to get three negative tests over four days with the students, and that is why education ministry has backed off some of that, loosen some of the rules a little bit as of last night.

But it still very complicated for students and their parents in order to get back into classes as they have been banned from classes or keep classes going as time goes on.

The emphasis here is definitely on young people because of the way the Omicron virus is spreading among the young. In fact, there are four times as many people -- 61 students in ICU, intensive care units, across the country since the beginning of the year. That is four times what it was before.

So, there is a big campaign on to vaccinate young people. Vaccinations are now open for young people all over the age of five. In fact, in Paris, here, we got one vaccination center that is just exclusively for young people. So, that is where the emphasis is here, Lynda.

KINKADE: All right, Jim Bittermann staying across it all in France, of course, good to have you with us, thank you.


KINKADE: Joining me now is Anne Rimoin. She is a professor of epidemiology at the University of California-Los Angeles, at the Fielding School of Public Health. Good to have you with us.


KINKADE: So, plenty of governments and companies around the world have mandated vaccines for employees. What we are seeing in Italy right now is the country about to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone over the age of 50.

Italy, of course, has the second highest death toll in Europe. Even now, we are seeing about 150 people dying a day. Is that the way to go? What is your reaction to this mandate? Does it go far enough?

RIMOIN: Well, the issue of mandates has been very controversial. But what we've seen here in the United States, for example, is that they do work. And I think that what we will see in other places is that they will work as well.

You know, interestingly, Italy has a very high vaccination rate and it is over 80 percent in their ages 50 to 55, and even up to 90 percent in their highest age groups, those people over 80.


RIMOIN: So, it is a small margin of people, but we do know that COVID-19 is going to affect those people most who are over the age of 50. So, this may be a move that will protect the hospitals.

KINKADE: And as you say, Anne, despite the fact that it has got one of the highest vaccination rates, it still right now has the highest infection rate since the pandemic began for their numbers as far as the numbers go.

But when we look across the board, Europe, it's not the only country looking at doing a mandate. We have Austria planning to make a vaccination mandate for everyone, 14 years and older, for next month. Greece is going to make it compulsory for everyone over the age of 60. Given that you get higher immunity from vaccination versus infection, is vaccination the only we are going to get out of this pandemic?

RIMOIN: It is always going to be a layered approach. I think it is important to remember that the vast majority of spread of this virus we are seeing globally is likely in the younger groups. It is those hospitalizations that are occurring in the older groups.

So, I think that these kinds of vaccine mandates when you target specific age groups, it is to be determined how well they are going to work. Really, we all live together, and so it is going to be important to make sure that everybody is vaccinated.

You know, an infection anywhere is potentially an infection everywhere. That is certainly true when you're thinking about how this is going to spread. We are going to have to target it with vaccines and boosters. We are going to have to have adequate masking. And we really are going to have to be thinking about these kinds of restrictions that are in place when we do see surges. That is the only way forward.

KINKADE: Professor, I am wondering if there is a silver lining with this variant. Given how contagious the Omicron variant is compared to the Delta variant and the fact that it appears to be weaker for the most part, could this variant help us get to herd immunity? Can we be cautiously optimistic here?

RIMOIN: It's hard to know. Right now, what's happening is this virus is spreading rapidly through all of these countries. We know that every time a virus has an opportunity to spread to another person, it has the opportunity to mutate. When it has the opportunity to mutate, it has the opportunity to create this kind of new dangerous variants. We don't know what's the next variant will be.

So, I think it is certainly a possibility that we will see a lot more immunity, widespread, globally, that may prevent us from future surge, particular in the near term. But in the long term, we really are going to have to have these kinds of strategies, a vaccination over -- to be able to make sure that we don't see new variants occur. So, bottom line, it's anybody's guess.

KINKADE: Some countries like Israel are rolling out a fourth vaccine shot. Here in the U.S., like the U.K. and other countries, people are being urged to get a booster shot, a third vaccine shot. How many jabs are we going to need and why don't they last longer than four to six months like other vaccines?

RIMOIN: The reason that we are seeing this kind of -- a need for additional vaccines is because right now these vaccines, as you said, may not provide long-term immunity. These are all first-generation vaccines. It is very likely that we will see new vaccines coming down the pike that will provide better immunity, longer-term immunity, broader spectrum immunity, immunity to multiple variants.

And so, we have to remember that we are still in very early days. It does feel like it has been forever. This really is early days in terms of vaccine development, in terms of understanding the virus, and really knowing what is going to be happening with variants.

KINKADE: Well, thanks to you for helping us understand this. Professor Anne Rimoin, thanks so much.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.

KINKADE: Still ahead, Kazakhstan is reeling from deadly antigovernment rallies that rage across the nation. Its president now says security forces are gaining the upper hand over protesters.

Plus, authorities in Xi'an, China trying to get a handle on the COVID- 19 outbreak as they face public outcry over the city's strict lockdown. The latest from Hong Kong, ahead.





LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Welcome back. Well, Kazakhstan's President says constitutional order has been mainly restored in all regions of his country. His words come after massive anti-government protests swept across the nation this week, leaving dozens dead according to state media.

The President went on to say that the anti-terror operation is now underway and security forces are working hard. CNN's Nic Robertson has more on the crackdown and its aftermath.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Almaty streets in a hard to verify social media post, an ugly, overnight crackdown. People scream and scurry for cover. Panic, as well as bullets in the air.

They're dead, they're dead, a man says. A motionless body just out of a safe reach stretched out on the freezing ground. In the same city, the country's biggest protesters fought pitch battles with uniform forces. Casualties accumulating on both sides. Law enforcement appearing to gain the upper hand with arrests and killings.

Police claim they took deadly action overnight, describing an as yet unverified shadowy shoot first-ask questions later crackdown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night, extremist forces attempted to storm the administrative buildings and Police department in the city of Almaty. Dozens of attackers were eliminated and their identities are still being verified.

ROBERTSON: The mayor's burnt out office in Almaty, apparent testimony to the ferocity of the battles fought. Without offering proof, the Kazakh President claiming protesters are foreign backed terrorists, an often use trope to deflect blame that the Russian government is also repeating, a characterization rejected by protesters.

We're neither thugs nor terrorists. This woman says the only thing flourishing here is corruption. We want the truth, this protester says the government is rich. But all of these people here have loans to pay. We have our pain and we want to share it. But truth and facts here are in short supply. The internet down for a second day. Residents reporting a scary quiet, braving government warnings to stay indoors to go out and search for open shops to buy essentials.

Russian state media reporting heavily on allegedly rampant looting by some protesters, as well as highlighting violence against Kazakh law enforcement. As part of a regional security agreement, Russian paratroopers began deploying to guard state and military facilities. The fourth consecutive day of protest, gunfire and explosions still rocking Almaty. Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.


KINKADE: Well, I want to bring in Diana Kudaibergenova, who is an Assistant Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Good to have you with us professor.


KINKADE: So fuel prices was the catalyst for the protests but it's far from the only reason for this discontent. Unemployment is high, wages are low. There's this pandemic induced recession how tough is life right now for people in Kazakhstan? Were these unrests, was it a long time coming?


KUDAIBERGENOVA: It's definitely and I've been saying it for a while that the gas prices, they were just like, you know, the trigger that, as you said, initially fueled it. But the problems are much deeply seeded in the society. People, I think, in the past decade have been slowly but surely losing the social security and they're seeing that the regime was talking about, you know, economic modernization, and about the promises of the, you know, of the development and so on.

But ordinary folk, especially in the lower classes did not really see those promises being implemented in their daily lives. So I think that's what we're seeing right now. It's the response to that lack of social security. KINKADE: And how much of a problem is corruption? Because I've heard some analysts describe it as endemic, would you agree?

KUDAIBERGENOVA: Yes, definitely. And then we need to also separate it into different levels. There is a large scale corruption that people are very much aware of, and in public like you know, especially of the lavish real estate and the types of projects that very high level top of league are able to afford.

Then there's also like, you know, everyday corruption on the smallest scale, it basically is part of everyday life, and people are aware of it. And, of course, it causes a lot of discontent and injustice, that people are aware that the inequalities that they experiencing, are caused by the by the system that is built. And they also what is really important that they connect this economic problem of corruption, down to the regime that's posted and one of my colleagues has said, driving it as system you know, people are responding to it as calling it a system, meaning that it's the regime that caused it.

KINKADE: Yes, so Diana, Russia has version of NATO, the CST are a group of former Soviet countries has sent in its military. There are now troops on the ground. I'm wondering what Putin stands to gain from getting involved. Does he simply want stability? Or is there perhaps an ulterior motive?

KUDAIBERGENOVA: Well, I think in my opinion, again, I'm very cautious with speculations here, especially in this early moment, we will still have to see how it's going to pan out. But definitely, I think, you know, one of the main messages right now that is circulating, and formerly that it is about stability. And again, I'm basing it on my colleagues, who are the IR specialists, and they talking about the fact that definitely for Russia, Kazakhstan is the biggest ally in the region, it's the biggest country as well.

And they want stability all across the borders that Kazakhstan is sharing, one of the largest territorial border with Russia so definitely the first cause would be the stability in the country. Nobody wants, you know, Kazakhstan to be the hotspot right now.

KINKADE: Yes. So this is a country known to crackdown on dissent. How unprecedented are these protests?

KUDAIBERGENOVA: Well, the protests - it's very important that the protests have been happening in the country for at least a decade. And we've seen a number of different ways that (inaudible) violently crackdown in western Kazakhstan (inaudible) in 2011. We've seen the 2014 protests against the devaluation, which of which were very, very important in the Warsaw Pact. Thankfully, they were not any casualties. Then 2016 mass land protests and finally, 2019, as I talked about, basically the political protests that have caused and, you know, created a number of political and social movements in Almaty particularly.

But this process is unprecedented in terms of the mass, like, you know, that that it's spread across the whole country. And it was also unprecedented in terms of the types of violent, destructive elements that that went on the streets and as a result that what we're seeing right now with the clashes. And with all the, you know, tragedies, casualties on both sides, both law enforcement, unfortunately, and the civilians or as the government calls them, terrorists, so the violence is unprecedented.

KINKADE: I want to ask you about that, Diana, because the President has referred to these protesters, his foreign terrorists. What audience is he playing to?

KUDAIBERGENOVA: I think both domestic and outside audience and I think what is - what is also important here is that Kazakhstan- well, we don't have internet in the country for the past few days. The people are largely disinformed. And I think what's also very important within what I've been hearing from Almaty, when I was back a bit, is that people are completely disoriented and anxious because imagine being in a city where you have to stay indoors, you hear all the you know, truth things happening, you hear the explosions, but you have no idea what is happening because Kazakhstan is very digitally connected nation, with people always using messengers, social media and so on. And now the only resort - the only source of information is basically state media and a lot of people are feeling very, very anxious because they - the trust in state media is very low in Kazakhstan.


And people be like, you know, they don't know what's going on the streets. So the accounts I've been having from - from Almaty, people are saying it's torture not knowing what's going on. But it's definitely the audience is both domestic and foreign because it justifies certain actions because there will be, you know, violence in terms of tracking down this people, which I don't know - well, we're going to - we're going to, you know, analyze it in coming days, (inaudible) but it's definitely very alarming for local population.

I feel for Almaty residents who are very anxious and scared.

KINKADE: Yes, no doubt. Well, good to get your analysis right now. Diana Kudaibergenova, thanks so much for your time.

KUDAIBERGENOVA: Thank you for having me.

KINKADE: Well, India is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. A short time ago, health officials reported over 117,000 new daily infections, the country's highest since early June, more than 15,000 new cases were reported in Delhi alone. Well, the U.S. is imposing new restrictions for its Military bases in Japan, all personnel are now required to wear masks while off base regardless of vaccination status.

COVID-19 tests will also be required before and after arrival in Japan. Xi'an is in its third week of lockdown as China faces the country's was Coronavirus outbreak since the start of the pandemic in Wuhan. There's growing outcry over the harsh measures. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is following the developments and joins us now from Hong Kong and Kristie, the stories coming out of Xi'an are horrific, they're inhumane and officials are now being held accountable. KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Lynda, residents in the northern Chinese city of Xi'an say that they continue to struggle to get food, to get basic essential supplies, even access to life saving medical care. We've learned that health officials in Xi'an have been punished. They've apologized but for many angry netizens across China, it's too little too late.


LU STOUT: As the Chinese city of Xi'an enters a third week of hard lockdown, a harrowing story of loss and punishment. As we reported earlier in a graphic video that went viral in China, a pregnant woman was turned away from a hospital in Xi'an because she didn't have a valid COVID-19 test. According to the posts from a Weibo user who claims to be her niece, the woman is sitting outside the hospital and bleeding so much there was a pool of blood at her feet.

Hours later, she was finally admitted but ultimately suffered a miscarriage. And we have since learned that hospital officials have been punished. The head of the Xi'an Gaoxin Hospital and its emergency center director had been suspended, the municipal government announced on Thursday. The director of Xi'an CDC was also issued a disciplinary warning by the municipal government. He apologized and bowed to the patient, but to angry netizens in China, it's not enough. One Weibo user accuses the government of only taking actions after tragedies happened. Another says there's no need to sacrifice individuals for the group because we should be able to protect people's lives.

A top rated comment ads, this just goes to show COVID-19 might not kill you. But bureaucrats can. A metropolis of 13 million, Xi'an has been in hard lockdown since December the 23rd after more than 200 local COVID-19 cases were detected over two weeks. Residents are forbidden from leaving their homes unless it's for COVID test.

A month before the Beijing Olympic Games, local officials have vowed to achieve community zero COVID before beginning to ease the lockdown but zero COVID has come at a cost.

MATTIE BEKINK, CHINA DIRECTOR, ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT: Measures in Xi'an are China's toughest on such a scale since really the early days of the pandemic. There are no signs that China will deviate from the dynamic zero COVID approach or that this current outbreak has been effectively contained. There are still cases in China every day.

LU STOUT: Social media has been flooded with cries for help. Residents say they continue to struggle to get food, basic supplies and medical attention. One user on (inaudible) Chinese Instagram-like platform appealed for help after a hospital refused to admit her father who had just had a heart attack. Why? Because they lived in a medium risk area of the city.

She later writes that her father was allowed in emergency operation but quote the delay was too long and rescue failed. I don't have a father anymore. CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of these videos and posts. The video of the bleeding pregnant woman outside Gaoxin hospital was widely shared before it was deleted, but the cracks in China's zero COVID strategy had been exposed.



LU STOUT: And Lynda, sadly we have learned that a second pregnant woman in Xi'an has suffered a miscarriage because of a delay in medical care. China's Central Government has been weighing in. We heard from a Vice Premier who is now telling hospitals in Xi'an to not turn away patients under any excuses. Back to you.

KINKADE: Yes, so tragic. All right, Kristie Lu Stout for us in Hong Kong, thanks very much. Well, Argentina is reporting record COVID infections for the third day in a row. On Thursday, nearly 110,000 new cases were registered in the Latin American nation. CNN's Matt Rivers has more from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this has not been a good week for Argentina in terms of this COVID-19 pandemic and unfortunately, Thursday's new data did not make the situation any better. Yet another single day record in terms of cases recorded in a 24-hour period with Argentinian health officials announcing that more than 109,000 cases had been recorded in a single day, the largest such number since this pandemic began. That brings the overall number of cases to more than 6 million so far during this pandemic for Argentina.

Thankfully, though, the overall number of deaths, the number of hospitalizations, they are not rising nearly as sharply as the number of cases on a single day basis. That is very good news and a sign that the vaccination campaign in Argentina which is vaccinated, well over 70 percent of adults in that country does appear to be having a positive effect.

However, experts in that country warn that as cases continue to go up, you know, even if the hospitalization rate isn't as high, the sheer volume of cases means that hospitalizations will go up that deaths will go up. Also experts are saying there could be some hope on the horizon in terms of the number of cases peaking on a day to day basis, maybe beginning to go down at some point soon, hopefully although as this expert says nothing is certain yet.

JORGE GEFINER, BIOCHEMIST (through translator): No one is certain, we're speculating there's a chance that by mid-January, the curve will drop. We're hoping for this scenario because in addition to vaccines, if we have 200,000 infections a day, logic tells us a big portion of the vulnerable population will go down in two week's time, it's still speculation.

RIVERS: And of course Argentina not the only country in Latin America dealing with a surging number of cases. We've seen cases go up sharply on a day to day basis here in Mexico, with the country's overall death number, right around 300,000 now since the start of this pandemic, a horrific milestone for this country in its battle against COVID-19. Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KINKADE: Our thanks to Matt Rivers. You're watching CNN Newsroom. Just ahead, the U.S. marks the first anniversary of the deadly attack on the Capitol, we'll hear from President Joe Biden.





Chorus performing.

KINKADE: That is the U.S. Congressional chorus performing just a few hours ago to mark the first anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Democratic lawmakers led a day of remembrance honoring those who protected the building from a pro-Trump mob trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election a year ago.


KINKADE: President Biden spoke out forcefully against his predecessor on Thursday without even mentioning his name. CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation not allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Biden opening a new fight to preserve the nation's democracy delivering a blistering rebuke of former President Trump and Republicans who continue to mislead Americans with lies about the 2020 election.

BIDEN: He's not just a former president. He's a defeated former president, defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.

ZELENY: In a stark and somber address on the first anniversary of the Capitol Insurrection, Biden stood in Statuary Hall, the very scene of the January 6 attack and blamed his predecessor for the carnage that day and the fallout.

BIDEN: You can't love your country only when you win. You can't obey the law only when it's convenient. You can't be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.

ZELENY: The President did not mention Trump's name by design, but assailed his predecessor for doing nothing to stop the violent assault on the Capitol and constitution as Congress was certifying the results of the Electoral College. BIDEN: What do we not see? We didn't see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in a private dining room of the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as Police were assaulted, lives at risk, the nation's Capitol under siege.

ZELENY: The morning remarks from the President and Vice President -

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American spirit is being tested.

ZELENY: - Opened a solemn day to mark one of the darkest periods in the nation's history. Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a moment of silence after reminding Americans of the true heroes from the rampage.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I want to acknowledge our fallen heroes of that day. U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard Livengood, Metropolitan Officer Jeffrey Smith, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Billy Evans of a later assault.

ZELENY: Only two Republicans stood on the House floor Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a member of the select committee investigating the attack and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney. It was a symbolic visit that shined an even brighter light on the deep divide inside the Republican Party still led by Trump.

Cheney took aim at the absent GOP leaders.

DICK CHENEY, FMR VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: It's not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.

ZELENY: Some Republicans are accusing Democrats of politicizing the Capitol attack yet many of the GOP rank and file were silent, which Biden pointedly took note of.

BIDEN: They seem no longer to want to be the party, the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes or whatever my other disagreements are with Republicans to support the rule of law and not the role of a single man I will always seek to work together with him.

ZELENY: As he left the Capitol Biden said his sharp words were not intended to divide.

BIDEN: The way you have to heal, you have to recognize the state of the wound. That's what great nations do. They face the truth, deal with it and move on.

ZELENY: And the President said he did not mention Mr. Trump's name by design. He said he did not want this to become a contemporary political battle. He said it was about far more than that. But the tone was all his. Mr. Biden played a careful hand in writing this speech. He has not spent much time talking about Donald Trump over the last year but on this historic day, he said it was important to tell the country the truth. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


KINKADE: Thanks to Jeff. Well, it's your last chance to see the annual Consumer Electronics Show after the break. We're going to show you some of the highlights and the exciting gadgets on display.



KINKADE: Welcome back. Well, now to the latest on high tech. The annual Consumer Electronics Show is on in Las Vegas, showcasing everything from phones to cars, and the show has been scaled back due to the Omicron variants, but that didn't stop many high profile companies from showing off their new gadgets. Carmaker BMW announced that flow electric SUV concept which can change colors at the press of a button going from white to gray to black.

Well, Hyundai unveiled its plan for an interactive future with what it calls meta mobility. A variety of robotic devices interacting with humans ultimately allowing people to overcome the physical limitations. And the Dream Chaser developed by company Sierra Space could herald a leap in commercial space travel. The spacecraft is being remodeled to carry up to six astronauts to and from low Earth orbit. Thanks so much for joining us. That does it for that edition of CNN Newsroom. I'm Lynda Kinkade, stay right here. Another hour of CNN Newsroom is up next.