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EU May Find It Hard to Ban Russian Oil Imports; U.K. Sanctions Russian Media Outlets Over "Disinformation"; Manhunt Underway for Alabama Correctional Officer and Inmate; Millions in Beijing Face Sixth Round of Mass Testing; Comedian Tackled on Stage in Los Angeles. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 05, 2022 - 04:30   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: The Kremlin is calling sanctions a double edged weapon, after the European proposed the sixth sanctions package on Russia for its war on Ukraine. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says that the west will, quote, pay a heavy price in trying to harm Moscow.

Meantime, the European Union may find it tricky to implement its proposal to ban Russian oil imports. The Czech Republic and Bulgaria are seeking exemptions from the ban, while Slovakia and Hungary say they need at least a three year transition period. Here's more from the Hungarian Prime Minister spokesperson. Have a listen.


ZOLTAN KOVACS, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER'S SPOKESPERSON: We are reliant on Russian oil 65 percent and Russian gas, 85 percent. It's a situation we have inherited. It's not the fault -- as a matter of fact, it's remained with us against the efforts of these government for the past 12 years to increase energy diversification.


SOARES: Let's go more on all this. Melissa Bell joins us live from Paris. So, Melissa, where does this leave this proposed plan from the EU? Does it scuttle it at all? The fact that they're not all singing from the same hymn sheet.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It does mean, Isa, that we're likely to look at exemptions. Were likely to look at for some countries, those that are the most dependent on that Russian oil. Hungary and Slovakia, of course, but there's also Bulgaria, Finland also, countries for their energy mix they get more than 75 percent of the oil that they import from outside the EU from Russia. So, that is a massive organization that they're being asked to carry out about their energy mix, their supplies, the infrastructure involved, et cetera, et cetera.

So, what we're likely to see are exemptions for some countries, but we are hearing -- we heard from France's energy minister this morning, that they believe they're confident that by the end of this week this will be agreed. We're talking though, Isa, to be clear about the unanimous approval of the 27. So, it's essential that those exemptions are made for those countries, for whom it will simply be impossible to ban Russia oil within the next 6 to 8 months.

The important thing is here the determination, the resolve, the unity that the European Union that believe they'll be able to show with this, which they believe will make a significant dent into Russian economy.

When you look at to one thing, they're tracking the amount of money brought into Russian coffers by energy imports to the European Union, it is to the order since the start of the war, Isa, of some 52 billion euros. Of that, about 30 billion come from gas, but more 20 billion from oil.


That gives you an idea of just how much money this set of sanctions, if it's improved, and the understanding, the belief within European leaders, is that it will be, will take place.

SOARES: We've also heard, Melissa, a new round of sanctions from the U.K. on Russia, including I believe on media companies. What more can you tell us about this?

BELL: That's right. The latest British round of sanctions follow also closely with the European Union's been announcing. Which is looking at the services sector. So, things like preventing companies from dealing with advertising, for instance, PR, selling those services to Russia. So, another set of companies therefore that will find their business curtailed by a fresh set of sanctions.

And also going further, then either the United Kingdom or the European Union has so far with regards to Russian media. So, organizations like Sputnik, Russian today have already been banned from British airways, from European airwaves. Both the U.K. and Europe have now gone further and are going to be taking on things like the social media, internet. So, going much further in their banning of any kind of information or content coming from those outlets towards the European Union, or the United Kingdom. Another step, once again, against Russia -- Isa.

SOARES: Melissa Bell, for us in Paris. Thanks very much, Melissa.

And that does it for me for this hour. In the meantime, I want to send it back to Max Foster, who's tracking the other top stories -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: See you next hour, Isa.

Now the sheriff in Lauderdale County, Alabama says authorities are following up on several leads in the search for an Alabama correctional officer and the inmate she's accused of helping escape from jail. Officer Vicky White and inmate Casey White were last seen leaving a detention felicity last Friday. The two are not related. Now the sheriff is urging the correctional officer to turn yourself in. CNN's Amara Walker has more details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Correction officer Vicky White's patrol car, seen here, on surveillance, Friday morning. Less than 10 minutes after she escorted Casey White, shackled and handcuffed, into the backseat of her patrol car, at the Lauderdale County Detention Center, and then drove off.

Authorities say, they were headed, here, to the Florence Square shopping center, nearby, where her getaway car was parked. A 2007 copper-colored Ford Edge that authorities say she purchased and parked here the night before, amidst the line of used cars for sale.

RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY SHERIFF: We had a witness that saw it there, because he was looking at the car and it was for sale. Noticed it wasn't for sale or didn't have a for sale sign on it, what he thought was unusual. And when the news broke about, and that patrol car was found there, he called in, and said, hey, I saw this car out there.

WALKER (voice-over): More evidence is emerging that indicates the escape was planned in advance.

Court documents show the Assistant Director of Corrections, for this Northwest Alabama county, sold her home, two weeks prior, for just over $95,000, well below the current market value of nearly $205,000. She moved in, next door, to live with her mother, who told CNN off camera that she had no idea what was about to happen, and that she just wants her daughter to come home alive.

The sheriff says the special relationship between 56-year-old Vicky White, and 38-year-old Casey White -- who was awaiting trial on capital murder charges -- may have started in 2020, while he was serving a 75- year prison sentence for a series of crimes, including a 2015 home invasion. The two are not related.

SINGLETON: We do know that there was communication, between the two, other than when she was at work.

We think there was a connection there.

WALKER: A romantic connection?


WALKER (voice-over): And Sheriff Singleton had these words of advice, for the veteran corrections officer.

SINGLETON: Vicky, you've been in this business for 17 years. You've seen this scenario play out more than once. And you know how it always ends.

WALKER (voice-over): Vicky White, was set to retire, after 17 years of service. Her last day was supposed to be the same day as the escape.

CHRIS CONNOLLY, LAUDERDALE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Just stunned. WALKER (voice-over): Lauderdale County District Attorney, Chris Connolly, says he worked with Vicky nearly every day, for those 17 years and described her as the most reliable person at the jail.

CONNOLLY: I would trust her with my life. I really would. I thought that much of her.

WALKER (voice-over): While the U.S. Marshals Service said the two are dangerous and could be armed with an AR-15 and a shotgun, a warning from a woman, who's in hiding, after she says, she was targeted by Casey White in that home invasion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, 2015 VICTIM OF CASEY WHITE: If she is still alive, get the hell out. Run. Run. Run as far as you can.

WALKER: The sheriff tells me that they've been getting good leads over the last few days, thanks all the media tension that the story has been getting. He also tells me that he does not believe that the fugitives are still here in Alabama. Now it turns out the public was not supposed to know about this getaway car that 2007 Ford Edge SUV. In fact, it was an unnamed police agency that accidentally leaked this information on social media.


So now, the assumption is that Casey White and Vicky White have abandoned this vehicle and are now in a different getaway car.

Amara Walker, Florence, Alabama, CNN.


FOSTER: Millions of people in Beijing are undergoing a sixth round of mass testing is by relatively few cases been detected. A large portion of the capital has been effectively shut down. A live report from Hong Kong next for you. Stay with us.


FOSTER: Some good news when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. The worldwide number of deaths from COVID keeps dropping. And now is the lowest it's been since late March of 2020 -- more than two years ago. The World Health Organization welcome the news, but cautioned the pandemic isn't over.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Globally recorded cases and deaths from COVID-19 are continuing to decline. With reported weekly deaths at their lowest since March 2020. But this trend, while welcome, don't tell the full story. Driven by Omicron subvariants, we're seeing an increase in reported cases in America and Africa.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: Well nearly 20 million people in Beijing are going to a sixth round of COVID testing today. Now the Chinese capital is pushing ahead with a mass testing, despite the high cost and relatively low case numbers, averaging around just 50 a day. Beijing's were large district is now essentially shutdown, due to China's zero COVID policy. And it's three and a half million residents being urged to work from home. CNN's Anna Coren is covering this for us from Hong Kong. So much nervousness in the capital considering what's happening in Shanghai.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, in Shanghai, you've got about 4,600 deadly cases today, Max. I mean, that's down from the five thousands, which is been hovering at for the past week.


But look at Shanghai, I mean, it has been in lockdown now for more than a month, and that is something that Beijing is doing everything in his power to avoid. I mean, you've got 50 cases in Beijing. 50 cases and yet they have lockdown basically 3.5 million people in Chaoyang -- the busiest, largest district of Beijing.

For the rest of this capital, you're talking about restaurants being suspended, in-dining has been suspending, schools have gone online, entertainment venues, sporting venues have all been closed. They basically want people to stay at home. But of course, Max, it's not just Beijing and Shanghai. According to CNN, you know, we believe that there are about 28 cities around China that are in either full or partial lockdown.

Yes, Beijing, Shanghai they obviously get, you know, most of the attention, but this is happening right around China. And it's because the government is trying to adhere to its zero COVID strategy. It's not trying -- it is doing everything in its power to stamp out COVID, which obviously, you know, they cannot do that. And the rest of world that as far as China is concerned, you know, scenes in Beijing they are put up fencing around residential compounds in the capital so that people can't get out of their apartment buildings. You know, from the people that I spoke to, Max, they say we are feeling like caged animals. This has been dragging on for long enough. And yet there is no end in sight.

FOSTER: OK, Anna in Hong Kong, thank you.

America's top diplomat has become the latest U.S. officials to test positive for COVID-19. U.S. State Department says Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive on Wednesday afternoon after testing negative earlier in the day. The State Department says Blinken is fully vaccinated, including a booster and is experiencing mild symptoms. Blinken is expected to work virtually as he isolates at home.

Mexican police say they discovered nearly 300 migrants trapped inside a truck that had been abandoned on a highway. It happened near the southern town of Cordova on Tuesday. A Red Cross worker tells Reuters that the locals realized the migrants were trapped after hearing screens coming from inside the truck. They were placed under custody of the National Migration Institute, who will determine their legal status.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the Homeland Security Secretary was grilled over immigration policies at the Mexico border during his second Senate hearing on Wednesday. In a tense exchange with Republican Senator Ron Johnson, Alejandro Mayorkas was asked why he doesn't just fix the problem.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Without Congressional action -- because Trump did it -- you just go back to return to Mexico, complete the fence. Reenter those agreements with south -- southern -- or Central American countries and do what President Trump did, fix it! Why don't you do that? You can do that with executive action.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, we do not agree with many of the inhumane and cruel policies of the prior administration.


FOSTER: Well, still ahead, police say comedian Dave Chappelle is OK after being attacked whilst performing in Hollywood. What we are learning about the suspect who rushed the stage, next.



FOSTER: Now to the legal case making headlines in the United States and all around the world. Actress Amber Heard took to the stand for the first time in the tumultuous defamation case filed by her ex- husband, Johnny Depp. On Wednesday, Heard detailed the early days of that relationship, claiming she endured physical and sexual abuse.


AMBER HEARD, ACTRESS: I just laughed because I thought he was joking. And he slapped me across the face. And I laughed. I laughed because I didn't know what else to do. I thought this must be a joke. This must be a joke. Because I'm -- I didn't know what was going on. I just stared at him. Kind of laughing still. Thinking that he was going to start laughing too, to tell me it was a joke, but he didn't.

He said, you think it's so funny. You think it's funny, (BEEP). You think you're a funny (BEEP) and he slapped me again.


FOSTER: Depp is suing Heard for $50 million over 2018 op-ed where she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse. In earlier testimony, Depp said he had never struck a woman and that Heard was abusive towards him. Heard will return to the stand to continue her testimony on Thursday.

Los Angeles police say comedian Dave Chappelle is OK after being attacked on a stage Tuesday night. Amateur video shows a chaotic scene onstage as security responded and subdued the attacker. Police have identified the suspect as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, but the motive remains unclear. CNN's Stephanie Elam has the latest.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Comedian Dave Chappelle attacked on stage while performing at the Hollywood Bowl during the "Netflix is a Joke" festival. Video taken just moments after the assault shows the alleged attacker being subdued as a shocked audience looks on.

CNN's Rachel Crane was sitting near the front row.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT AND EYEWITNESS: Out of nowhere, a gentleman jumps up from the audience and tackles Dave Chappelle. The thing that caught my eye immediately was that the gentleman was wearing a backpack. That's what got me scared. So, my mind immediately went to this man is wearing a bomb. But it felt very deliberate, and it was quite scary.

ELAM (voice-over): The LAPD says the suspect, a 23-year-old man was armed with knife made to look like a replica handgun. He was taken to a hospital for treatment and was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. Any motive for the attack remains unknown.

CNN has reached out to the Hollywood Bowl for comment.


Netflix said: We strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence.

And in a statement to CNN, a representative for Chappelle said in part that -- the comedian refuses to allow last night's incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.

A celebratory Chappelle returned to the stage alongside Jamie Foxx and Chris Rock, who used the moment to make light of his own recent onstage assault at the Academy Awards.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: Was that Will Smith?

ELAM (voice-over): Police say Chappelle was not hurt, but the onstage attack of a superstar comedian, the second in just over a month, raises questions about security concerns and safety for performers.

CRANE: It felt like an eternity before the security got there and, you know, intervened. In actuality, I'm sure it was just a few seconds. But it was a very charged moment, and everybody -- there were gasps, screams, not crazy screams, like everyone was very alarmed by what had just happened.

ELAM: And Dave Chappelle's representative calling this incident unfortunate and unsettling. And said that the comedian is cooperating with the police investigation. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.


FOSTER: That does it here on CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Max Foster in London. Our coverage continues in "EARLY START" with Christine Roman. You're watching CNN.