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Six Russian Missiles Fired at Odessa; Russia Prepares for Celebrations; Beijing-Backed John Lee Set to Become Next Hong Kong Leader; Northern Ireland Nationalist Party Sinn Fein Wins Largest Number of Seats; Emperor Penguins at Risk of Extinction. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 08, 2022 - 01:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers, right around the world. I'm Isa Soares, live in Lviv, with the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I'm Michael Holmes, at the CNN World Headquarters, in Atlanta. I will have the day's other top stories.


SOARES: Welcome to the show, everyone. It's 8 am in Ukraine.

And we are hearing that dozens of people are feared dead after Russian forces, reportedly, bombed a school in the Luhansk region of Eastern Ukraine. Images from the scene are showing the building reduced to little more than a smoking pile of debris.

The regional governor says almost everyone in the village, about 90 people, had sought shelter inside of the school. So far, just 30 have been rescued from the rubble. The area, is around 11 kilometers or seven miles, from the front line.

To the west, Ukraine's military says that Russia fired six cruise missiles at the port city of Odessa. So far, no casualties have been reported. Officials say Russian forces appear to be targeting, yet again, infrastructure.

But strikes on historic cities, like Odessa, almost inevitably lead to collateral damage. On Saturday, Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that nearly 200 cultural heritage sites, had been damaged so far, during this war. Have a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Today, the invaders launched a missile strike at Odessa, a city where almost every street has something memorable, something historical. But for the Russian army, it does not matter. They would only kill and destroy. Odessa, Kharkiv region, Donbas, they do not care.


SOARES: Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials say all women, children and elderly have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Mr. Zelenskyy says, they are now focusing on evacuating the wounded, as well as medics, who are still trapped at the plant as well, civilians who are stuck in other areas, around the city of Mariupol.

Western leaders will keep an eye on President Putin Monday, no doubt, for any possible announcements about Ukraine. May 9th is victory day in Russia, when the nation marks the Soviet win over Nazi Germany in World War II. But as Matthew Chance reports, the event is rich in symbolism that Mr. Putin could use right now.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Night time on the cobbles of Red Square and Russia's military is plotting its next steps. This is a rehearsal for the annual Victory Day parade every May 9th, commemorating the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany.

And it's also a dramatic stage for the Kremlin to showcase its military power. And to celebrate.

"I'm looking forward to its grand scale," says this Muscovite. "It will show the power and strength of our country," he says.

Though who really needs a reminder?

These are the latest brutal images from Ukraine, where Russia is continuing what it calls its special military operation. The Kremlin says this is also a fight against Nazis.

And even though Ukraine has a Jewish president, it's being drilled into Russians that their country's soldiers are yet again, battling fascists. It's a comparison dismissed in the West but which many Russians seem prepared to accept.

"Every year, I go to these rehearsals," says this man, who gives his name as Misha (ph). "But I think this year, it's more special because of the special military operation happening in Ukraine," he says.

"Today, I waved the flag to support our army. But I hope it will end soon," he adds, a hint of awareness, perhaps, of the horrific cost.


CHANCE (voice-over): This is what Victory Day is meant to mark, the Soviet Union's role in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Russia sustained millions of casualties, paying an enormous sacrifice.

But the power of a military parade to bolster national pride has never been lost on the Kremlin's leaders; most of all, President Putin, whose Victory Day parades have, for years, heralded Russia's resurgence as a military power.

There's speculation this year's parade will form the backdrop for a major announcement on Ukraine. Victory Day still marks Russia's triumphant past. What the Kremlin really wants is to celebrate that elusive victory in the present -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


SOARES: For more on Russia's victory day holiday, we are joined by Lawrence Sheets, who is a former Moscow bureau chief on National Public Radio in the U.S. And, he is speaking with us from Tbilisi, in Georgia.

Good morning to you, thank you so much for taking time to speak to us. Look, every year, from what I can remember now, I have been covering this. We see a show of force, as Matthew Chance just highlighted there, a show of military might on display in Red Square.

We are expecting much of the same this year. I expect, obviously, added significance, as many Russian soldiers will be here, in Ukraine.

What can we expect, do you think?

LAWRENCE SHEETS, FORMER NPR MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: I think the most interesting aspect, first of all, is that, undoubtedly, barring some sort of unforeseen circumstance, President Putin will have to appear in a public format.

It will be extremely guarded, of course. Security would be immense. But President Putin has barely been seen in the last 2.5 months. There have been appearances, which are, obviously, more or less dated but there are others, which are, probably file footage.

And there are other days which go by, where he's just not mentioned at all. In terms of the military parade itself, I think it's indicative because, on Russian television -- and I was watching it last night and early this morning -- there has been a tremendous suggestion that all sorts of new types of technologies and fighter planes and things of this sort will be on demonstration for this highly staged event.

SOARES: By saying that, that is not just directed for the public at home but for the west as well.

Would you say that?

SHEETS: Definitely, that's the case. Whether or not it's convincing is another issue, altogether.

Also, I noticed, on Kremlin controlled television, there is not so much reference to Ukraine in the last day or so. It is more about the history of World War II, interviews with veterans, et cetera, et cetera.

So it may be because the Kremlin is having such problems and Russia is having such military problems in Ukraine that it wants to de-emphasize that aspect. It wants to emphasize its military might.

SOARES: Let's talk about what we can hear from him. For weeks now, he was expected to claim or tout some sort of victory.

What would that victory be?

What could he say?

SHEETS: That is a good question.

What kind of victory can you claim, when you have failed to achieve even minimal objectives?

In the last few days, we've seen Russian troops being pushed back, from the second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv. We have seen -- and we still do not have any confirmation -- that Russia is in full control of Mariupol, where they have been fighting for three months, which was never expected.

They do not control the entire Donbas region in the east; they control parts of it. And then, you see incidents, as you alluded to, as in Odessa, where I just spent a month. And rocket attacks on the airport, which has not been operational, for two or three months.

What this achieves, nobody really knows. So a victory can be claimed objectively, that's one question. It's another question, rhetorically, what you can say. That is, probably, going to be the emphasis of President Putin.

SOARES: We heard from the director of the CIA, Bill Burns. And he had this to say about President Putin. Have a listen.


BILL BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: He is in a frame of mind in which he doesn't believe he can afford to lose. I think he is convinced, right now, that doubling down, still, will enable him to make progress.


SOARES: Do you think he will double down and expand the war?

Or do you think he is likely to de-escalate here?

SHEETS: Hard to see him de-escalating, in my own opinion. I would tend to agree, that there could be a doubling down.


SHEETS: But in fact, we don't really know who is calling the shots in the Kremlin or in Moscow. This is why we so, rarely, see President Putin on TV, in any verifiable footage, of recent times or even events (INAUDIBLE) Sergei Shoigu.

So what doubling down can mean for the Kremlin is difficult to say, although, I tend to agree with Mr. Burns. SOARES: I know, as we show where you are, which was invaded by Russia

in 2018, whose army, of course, still occupies much of the country, how is this conflict being viewed from there?

SHEETS: There is overwhelming support for Ukraine. The Ukrainian flag is painted everywhere. Ukrainian banners, all over the place, on the streets. The government has been very careful. This is a country of 3 million plus people.

So it is less than 10 percent the size of Ukraine. As you said, it is still partially occupied by Russia. There are military troops, from the Russian Federation. But there is no question, by all accounts and by political polling, more than 90 percent of people support Ukraine here. The government is being more careful.

SOARES: Lawrence Sheets, great to have you on the show and your expertise. Thank you so much.

SHEETS: Thank you.

SOARES: And of course, tune in to see the victory day parade in Russia. We will have live coverage as troops and officials gather, from 9 am Moscow time. That is 7 am, if you are watching us from London. The parade is expected to get underway an hour later. Of course, we will have full coverage.

Beijing backed candidate, John Lee, has just been selected as Hong Kong's next leader. We will have a live report from Hong Kong. That and more, with my colleague, Michael Holmes. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.




HOLMES: The Hong Kong security chief who oversaw the pro-democracy crackdown in 2019 will become the city's next leader. Beijing backed John Lee was the only candidate, in a tightly controlled, small circle vote, to replace Carrie Lam as chief executive. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout, joining us from Hong Kong.

As we said, only one choice, so it's not like we've been in suspense, waiting for the result. Tell us how it all unfolded and what it all means.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Michael, as expected, the sole contender and the ex security chief of Hong Kong, John Lee, was selected as the next top leader of Hong Kong. That announcement, made in the last half hour. He is making some comments right now.

I am inside of the Hong Kong convention and exhibition center, where a proceeding called the 2022 chief executive election was underway. But this was not a citywide election. Popularity meant absolutely nothing in this context. [01:15:00]

STOUT: The 7.4 million people, calling Hong Kong home, do not have any say in deciding who the next leader is. Rather, under the revamped patriots only electoral system, less than 1,500 individuals, largely pro Beijing industry representatives and lawmakers, were eligible to select the next leader of Hong Kong. And, that is John Lee.


STOUT (voice-over): It's been almost 25 years since China assumed sovereignty over Hong Kong. And the sole contender for the city's top job would be the first security official to run it since the handover.

JOHN LEE, INCOMING HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE: This new chapter will be a new symphony.

STOUT (voice-over): And the new conductor?

John Lee, a former career police officer.

JOHN BURNS, UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: He is different from the previous kinds of leaders that we have had in the past. Generally, they have come from business or, they have come from the elite civil service.

He doesn't have any of that. He has networks that are in the police and in, say, public security, on the mainland.

STOUT (voice-over): Before serving as Hong Kong's former deputy leader, Lee was its top security official.

During the long and often violent pro-democracy protests of 2019, demonstrators held posters, slamming Lee and other top officials. In 2020, Lee enforced a sweeping national security law, imposed by Beijing and was among nearly a dozen people sanctioned by the Trump administration, in 2020, for his role in undermining the city's autonomy, a charge Hong Kong and Chinese officials deny.

Last month, YouTube suspended his campaign channel, citing U.S. sanctions. The move was condemned by China's ministry of foreign affairs.

STOUT: As John Lee prepares to become the next chief executive of Hong Kong, many here say they no longer recognize the city. A national security law has dismantled the once vibrant local press and civil society. And a strict COVID policy has dented the reputation of a once thriving, international business hub.

STOUT (voice-over): At a recent press conference, Lee pledged to solidify the city's international role.

STOUT: What can you say, right now, to reassure the international community that Hong Kong is open for business?

LEE: COVID is not going to live with us forever. At some stage, it will be under control. It is important that we will do a good balancing act, so that, on the one hand, we will keep the disease under control but, at the same time, we will allow business to go about.

STOUT (voice-over): Lee also vowed to boost housing supply and press ahead with Article 23, a security measure shelved in 2003, after a half a million marched against it. With dissent now stifled, protests are not expected to get in the way.

BURNS: The Hong Kong government, you could say, is caught in a dilemma. They're supposed to be accountable to the central government but they are also supposed to be accountable locally. The central government is now emphasizing the vertical aspect, this accountability up.

STOUT (voice-over): If everything goes to plan, Lee will be sworn in on July the 1st. Exactly halfway through 50 years of "One Country, Two Systems," autonomy Beijing promised to Hong Kong. A law and order candidate, poised to ensure law and order, in this already changed Chinese city.


STOUT: So John Lee has been selected as the next top leader of Hong Kong. He will be sworn in, will take office on July the 1st, which is a very significant date. It'll be 25 years since the handover took place.

The fact it was five years ago, in 2017, when the outgoing chief executive, Carrie Lam, was sworn in and Chinese president, Xi Jinping was here to oversee the proceedings. Back to you.

HOLMES: All right, Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout, with the very latest from Hong Kong.

Now voters in the Philippines, go to the polls, in less than 24 hours in a presidential election, pitting the son of the country's notorious former dictator, against a candidate with roots in the movement that opposed his father.

Front-runner Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has led in every opinion poll. He faces Leni Robredo, who, narrowly, defeated him in the vice presidential race in 2016. A human rights activist, she has links to the People Power uprising in 1986 that ousted Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Other candidates include the former professional boxer, Manny Pacquiao, and the mayor of Manila and a former police general.

We're tracking a potential game-changer in the history and politics of Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein, once the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, has won the most seats in Northern Ireland's assembly. ITN's Peter Smith, explaining what this could mean for Northern Ireland's future.

[01:20:00] PETER SMITH, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A guard of honor for Sinn Fein's party leadership, the history makers. They are a party for a united Ireland, long linked to the provisional IRA, as the terror group's political wing. The idea Sinn Fein could win an election in Northern Ireland was, once, unthinkable; now the reality.

MICHELLE O'NEILL, NORTHERN IRELAND DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER: Let's have a healthy debate about what our future looks like, something that is better for each and every one of us, where we all have a valued place in our society.

So I really encourage that conversation. We have been asked what the Irish government consistently, that they must now create the conditions for a conversation around constitutional change. That has always been our perspective and that will be my perspective tomorrow as well.

SMITH (voice-over): Then an attempt to comfort unionists here, who fear what's Sinn Fein will do with victory.

O'NEILL: Don't be scared. The future is bright for all of us.

SMITH (voice-over): But Sinn Fein's idea of a bright future is the nightmare of the once dominant DUP. They have now fallen into second place, punished by their own unionist base for failing to stop the Brexit protocol and separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K.

But still, their leader sees it differently.

SMITH: Has Brexit cost you this election?

JEFFREY DONALDSON, DUP LEADER: Well, the DUP has done extremely well this election. Unionism has held its ground. The unionist vote remains strong. We are the largest designation in the assembly. I think there is a lot of spin around the results. And I am very pleased with how the DUP has done.

SMITH (voice-over): This election has delivered an historic result. But it is still unlikely to deliver a functioning government for people in Northern Ireland.

FREYA MCCLEMENTS, NORTHERN EDITOR, "IRISH TIMES": The way government in Northern Ireland is set up, is it's based on cross community power sharing. So while we have all of the symbolism of Sinn Fein taking the first minister position, they can't actually do that, unless there is a DUP deputy first minister, to go alongside them. And Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader and others in his party, have been making it very clear, over the course of these elections, that they will not go back into the executive, unless the issues around the Northern Ireland protocol are resolved.

SMITH (voice-over): A failure to agree what power sharing executive means, the Sinn Fein victory would be largely symbolic for now. But what it symbolizes cannot be ignored. This result is a reflection of change of the island of Ireland, a change that is no longer on the horizon but already here.


HOLMES: Former Brazilian president, Lula de Silva, has thrown his hat back in the ring for president, launching his campaign with a rally on Saturday in Sao Paulo, out touting a plan to get Brazil's economy back on track.


LULA DA SILVA, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We need put Brazil back among the best economies in the world.

We need to reverse the slowing process of the industrialization of the country, creating an environment of political, economic and institutional stability that encourages business people to invest in Brazil again.


HOLMES: Lula is the front-runner, against the incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, who has faced blistering criticism over his handling of the COVID pandemic, among other things.

Lula had been convicted on corruption and money laundering charges, which barred him from running against Bolsonaro in 2018. But a supreme court judge annulled those charges, last year. The first round of the election is scheduled to take place, on October 2nd.

The death toll has risen to 32 in Friday's explosion at a popular hotel in Cuba, with 19 people, still, missing. A gas leak, thought to be the cause of the blast at Havana's historic Hotel Saratoga. Early reports indicate, a child and a pregnant woman, were among the fatalities.

Many victims were hotel employees. Rescue teams, still searching the rubble for any survivors.

Emperor penguins are tall, majestic and very much in danger. Ahead, what scientists say is threatening the species. We'll have that and more, after the break.





HOLMES: Welcome back.

Emperor penguins are so large, they can stand as tall as a 6-year-old child. But their imposing height does not protect them from our changing world. As Lynda Kinkade reports, some colonies in Antarctica may disappear in the next 30 to 40 years. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These emperor penguins are native to Antarctica. They are the largest of all the penguin species. And now, due to climate change, scientists say they are at risk of extinction.

Unlike Adelie penguins, which build nests on the continent, these penguins breed directly on marine ice. And ice melting puts the lives of the baby penguins at risk.

MARCELA LIBERTELLI, ARGENTINE ANTARCTIC INSTITUTE (through translator): When the ice platform loses stability, the little penguins, the ones that are growing, the chicks of that season, might not have their feathers. They might not be ready to go to the sea.

The ground they rest on, where the colony is developing, breaks. And if the water reaches them, they are not ready to swim. They do not have their definitive, grownup waterproof feathers and they die because of the cold and drown.

KINKADE (voice-over): Scientists say, for almost three years in a row, all of the chicks, from one colony in the Weddell Sea, died because of the loss of ice. Researchers from Argentina, travel to these colonies, each year, to study the penguins.

They counted, weighed and measured. And their geographic position is recorded. The scientists say that some colonies in particularly vulnerable areas, may disappear within the next 30 to 40 years.

LIBERTELLI (through translator): The disappearance of any species is a tragedy for the planet, whether small or large, plant or animal. It does not matter. It is a biodiversity loss. And surely, the connections that they have with the environmental, are much more than the human being can imagine.

The food chains of extreme places have fewer links, fewer members. It means that the disappearance of one of them would have very serious consequences on the ecosystem.

KINKADE (voice-over): The U.N. agency, which his responsible for promoting international cooperation on climate related concerns, recently warned of increasing extreme temperatures, unusual rainfall and ice slides on the continent. Losing emperor penguins would be another grim and sad consequence of climate change -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


HOLMES: "AFRICAN VOICES: CHANGEMAKERS" up next. I will see you in 30 minutes.