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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett And Foreign Minister Yair Lapid Agree To Dissolve Parliament; President Joe Biden To Visit Israel Next Month Amid Political Shake-Up; Ukraine: Russian Shelling Intensifies Around Kharkiv; Millions Affected By Moonson Floods In Bangladesh And India; January 6 Committee To Focus On Team Trump's Fake Electors Plot; Francia Marquez To Become Country's First Black Vice President; IATA Chief: Airport Chaos and Delays are Isolated; St. Petersburg Priest Helps Ukrainian Refugees Reach E.U. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 21, 2022 - 00:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Live from Hong Kong, I'm Anna Coren and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Israel's parliament is just days away from disillusion, the prime minister could be replaced as early as next week. Does Netanyahu have a chance to get his job back?

Day four of the Capitol riot hearings, the committee's plan to show America that Donald Trump was involved in fraud.

And the incredible story of a priest in Russia risking it all to help Ukrainians fleeing war.

We begin this hour with a political shake up in Israel. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and key coalition ally Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, have now agreed to submit a bill to dissolve parliament. That bill is expected to be submitted next week.

What this means Israel could soon be headed for its fifth election in under four years. The move follows weeks of mounting political uncertainty. And after attempts to stabilize, the coalition failed.


NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In the last few weeks, we did everything we could to save this government. That in our eyes, the continuation of its existence was in the national interest.

Believe me, we looked under every rock. We didn't do this for ourselves, but for our beautiful country, for you citizens of Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COREN: Well, journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now from Jerusalem. And Elliott, experts believed it was only a matter of time before this fragile coalition collapse, I guess some even surprise it made it a year.

But what does this say about how deeply fractured Israel is and the hope for a unified effective government in the future?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Anna, in terms of how deeply fractured Israeli politics are, and Israeli society is, you know, the Israel Democracy Institute, this is a think tank here. And I described this government rally as just a ceasefire in Israel seemingly never ending political crisis.

Because not only do we see, you know, divisions between the right-wing bloc led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the government itself, of course, we've had divisions within the coalition. It's the most desperate coalition ever in Israel's history, eight parties going from left all the way through to the right and including for the first time ever, an Israeli Arab party.

So there were divisions, obviously, ideologically, both from the start between those parties, but also divisions even within the parties.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on the Yamina party, seemingly, you know, fraying at the seams, disintegrating over the last coming months. And Israeli looked almost like a car crash, like watching a car crash in slow motion.

So, we don't necessarily -- it doesn't necessarily bode well for the future of the current government as and when we go to fresh elections. But it doesn't necessarily mean that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has precipitated really this crisis is necessarily going to get in.

Yes, opinion polls suggest that he's, you know, doing pretty well. But we could find ourselves in the same kind of political paralysis that we've seen, you know, for most of the last few years.

So, it's anyone's guess as to what is going to happen next, but in terms of the procedure, we know that we have this bill going to parliament next week. We know that assuming the Knesset votes to dissolve itself. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will take over as part of the rotation deal agreed with the current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, so Lapid would be Prime Minister for the remainder of the current government and would be the prime minister when Prime Minister -- when President Joe Biden comes to town next month. Anna.

COREN: It certainly is an extraordinary development, Elliott Gotkine, we'll speak more next hour, many thanks.

Well, Naftali Bennett's predecessor is already planning a comeback. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held the position for about 12-1/2 years.

Well, now Netanyahu says he's confident he's Likud party will lead the next government, calling the current one the worst in the country's history.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI OPPOSITION LEADER AND FORMER PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I intend to form a strong national study government. I think the atmosphere changed. I can feel it. I hear from the people. You walk and talk to mothers, fathers, young couples with children, with older people. Some of them did not vote for me. And they say we now want the real change. We want to return the State of Israel to the place it deserves and I intend to do it together with my friends.



COREN: I want to bring in Aaron David Miller, he is a CNN Global Affairs analyst and a former Middle East negotiator for the U.S. State Department. He joins me now for from Washington.

Aaron, great to have you with us. So, Israel is facing its fifth election in three years. What does this say about the state of play in Israel?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it shows that Henry Kissinger is quipped that Israel doesn't have a foreign policy just as a domestic politics, that there's a large element of truth in that.

It also reveals that despite the high degree of function of this government, passing a budget, which they hadn't had for three years, trying to protect the judiciary from political opposition, fighting COVID, improving the economy, and even expanding Israel's relationships with key Arab states, that in fact, the Israeli political system, and Israeli politics remains highly volatile and combustible.

In Israel, you need to govern by consensus, you need a coalition, which involves gaining support of a number of parties sometimes, as the Bennett coalition demonstrated, the Bennett coalition, sometimes with the strangest of bedfellows (PH), and that may well have been one of the reasons that the government was not sustainable. It was simply driven by too many contradictions, too many conflicting interests.

And with Mr. Netanyahu, the former prime minister, trying to exploit the vulnerabilities of key legislators, he clearly has now brought about in part the collapse of the government.

And he's staging a bit even though he's been indicted and is under trial, charged with bribery, breach of trust and fraud. There's also a pretty good chance he could become the next prime minister of Israel.

COREN: Well, I want to talk to you about that, because his Likud party, poll suggests that it would be the largest party in the next parliament. But does that guarantee that Benjamin Netanyahu will be the prime minister? MILLER: Not necessarily, as you mentioned, the Likud is the largest party, it's the most coherent, the most cohesive.

The challenge in terms of the coalition and the challenges facing with Pete (PH) and Netanyahu. Netanyahu now has to deliver at least four of his core parties, two religious parties, an ultra-right party, and Likud, that is a highly stable collection of parties, which are -- which are not going to desert him.

There'll be no fickle cabinet member, excuse me, parliamentary members in that group, when Pete, on the other hand, is going to have to assemble a coalition of as many as seven to nine parties, many of whom have conflicting ideologies, and they are bound together by the Prime Directive, as we saw in the government's formation, last June, of keeping Benjamin Netanyahu out of power.

And I think that is the key focus of this election. The issue of being Netanyahu, are there enough Israelis who want off the roller coaster and don't want him back? That's going to be an important consideration as Israelis go to the -- to the polls on October 25th.

COREN: It's extraordinary think that they would want that considering his government hadn't passed a budget in three years. There weren't key appointments that had been made. It was -- it was paralyzed.

But let me ask you this. You wrote an article recently saying that the U.S. President Joe Biden has really done everything in his power to support this shaky coalition, it has now collapsed. How does that reflect on the U.S. president considering that he is due to visit the Middle East and Israel shortly?

MILLER: Well, the biggest mytho -- one of the biggest mythologies in the U.S.-Israel relationship is that Israel doesn't meddle in American politics and American doesn't meddle in Israel's. I worked for two administrations, at least one Republican, one Democrat in which there was blatant intervention and an effort to manipulate and to play the prime ministerial sweepstakes.

Now, President Biden over the last 16 months has done everything he possibly could to avoid any sort of action that would royal bend its political waters and cause the government to collapse.

Largely I suspect because clearly instated he does not want the return of Benjamin Netanyahu and a coalition that would be composed largely of right wing parties.

However, on July 13th, President of the United States showing up, he will shake the hand of the acting prime minister who will be Yair Lapid. And Lapid's challenge in the next four months and is basically appear and be prime ministerial.


MILLER: And certainly, a visit by the President of the United States. I'm not arguing that Biden is going to Israel to intervene in Israeli politics but by definition, that visit is going to help Naftali Bennett. Or as my grandmother used to say about her chicken soup, it couldn't hurt.

So, I think there is a sense that a Lapid government would be more in sync and in line with American interests, and an Israeli government would in fact play politics in the United States, just as Netanyahu was doing from 2015 Until we left office.

COREN: Well, Yair Lapid, I guess he's gone from a broadcaster to being considered a lightweight to acting prime minister, foreign minister, obviously, in between, will he be the next prime minister? I guess we have to wait and see.

Your grandmother sounds like a smart lady. Aaron David Miller, great to speak to you.

MILLER: Always a pleasure, thank you, Anna.

COREN: It's been nearly four months since Russia invaded its neighbor. But the war in Ukraine hasn't just devastated that country, it's also propelling a global food crisis that's only getting worse.

Right now, millions of tons of grain are trapped inside Ukraine due to Russian blockades of key ports that's putting millions at risk of food shortages or even famine, especially in Africa, where many countries rely on both Russia and Ukraine for wheat imports.

On Monday, Ukraine's president addressed the issue with the African Union, telling leaders Russia is holding their nations hostage.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If it wasn't for the Russian war, you would be in a completely different position now, completely safe. That is why in order to avoid famine, the efforts of states like Russia to return to their aggressive policy of colonialism must end. The time of empires is over. People have the right to just live. Just live and have everything for life.


COREN: Ukrainian troops in the eastern city of Severodonetsk appear to be hanging on by a thread. For weeks, the city has been the epicenter of a brutal battle for the wider Donbas region.

Russian forces now control most of Severodonetsk and the local governor says the Russian army still has enough manpower and firepower to launch a large scale offensive to take the city.

To the north, shelling sparked a massive fire at a factory in Ukraine's second largest city. It comes as Russia appears to be ramping up attacks on the wider Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian officials say at least three civilians were killed in shelling on Monday.

And CNN teams on the ground reported hearing more explosions than normal. Ukraine's president has also warned about the possibility of more attacks as his country awaits a key decision on its E.U. bid.

CNN's Sam Kiley has more.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has warned that the process whereby Ukraine might now become in the near future a candidate nation for membership of the European Union means that in his view, Russia may step up attacks on this country. And that is because arguably it is membership or potential membership of the European Union and the fact that that requires it to be a Western democratic system in order to join the European Union is an existential threat effectively to the authoritarian regime in neighboring Russia.

And as a consequence of that is being seen here on the ground not far from where I'm standing just a few miles north of Kharkiv, there has been a buildup of Russian troops both of armor, that is tanks and also substantial amounts of artillery and infantry. Fighting vehicles have also been moved in to a several locations in the north of the country.

Now, there is a very small amount of territory between Kharkiv itself and the Russian border. So, it's easy for Russia to reinforce its operations there.

And the levels of destruction that you can see here, this is the Department of Economics in Kharkiv's National University, it was hit on March the second, the city is continuing to get hit nothing like on that scale, but the intensity is slowly increasing. And the concern for the authorities both in Kharkiv itself but also in Kyiv in the capitol is that Kharkiv once again be the target of yet another Russian counter attack.

And the reason for that is of course that the Ukrainians were able to push Russia back substantially five, 10, 15, 20 kilometers in some areas away from the city limits which are now being probed by Russian artillery and longer range missiles.

Sam Kiley, CNN, in Kharkiv.


COREN: The days of heavy rain have triggered flooding in parts of southern China. Officials say almost half a million people are impacted in Guangdong Province. Rivers are overflowing and homes are submerged. The floods have also collapsed roads in some areas causing severe traffic delays. Local forecasters expect more rain over the coming day.


COREN: And in India and Bangladesh, millions have been affected by monsoon weather. Flooding has killed at least 84 people and some 300,000 others are said to be taking shelter in Bangladesh alone.

We have reporters covering all angles of this story. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is at the CNN Center in Atlanta and Vedika Sud is in New Delhi.

Let's go first to Vedika. Tell us about the worst hit areas in India and Bangladesh.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Anna, like you mentioned, more than 80 people are dead due to the heavy rainfalls, the Bangladesh, the northeastern part of the country and northeastern states in India have been witnessing flash floods, as well as lightning have killed most of these people.

But let's just talk about the severely affected areas. I will start with a video that has been uploaded by the Bangladesh Air Force where you can see the impact on human lives the flooding has really had. There are these food packets, there are these water packets that are being thrown out of the choppers on to these impacted lands by the Air Force personnel to ensure that these people get some food to eat and some water to drink at this point in time. That's the biggest challenge according to officials in Bangladesh, along with this obviously waterborne diseases as the other challenge they're going to be facing in the upcoming days, and also the pandemic.

Thousands of people are now in relief camps taken away from the low lying areas to safer ground. Now talking about Assam, Assam is not the only northeastern state that has been impacted by the floods here in India, Macaulay (PH) as well is another along with other states as well.

Now, the fear that environmentalists have and we've been speaking to some of them is that more and more embankments are being breached, Anna. This has not happened in the past.

There is a river called Brahmaputra, which overruns every year. We see these floods happening every year in Assam. But the fear is that this time tributaries have overrun as well.

And this points and indicates to their biggest fear, which is climate change and extreme weather conditions, which keep taking place in this region of Bangladesh and northeast India, Anna.

COREN: And you say this river breaches every year, and yet these poor people have no choice but to live there. Vedika Sud, we appreciate the update. Many thanks.

Well, let's turn now to CNN's Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, does the forecast show any signs of relief?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, across Bangladesh and India, certainly not because this is the peak of the monsoon season. And unfortunately, you know, we look forward to these monsoonal rainfall events and then we get amounts that we've seen in the last couple of days and very quickly, it becomes a very dire situation.

And you'll notice rainfall amounts have improved a little bit here over the past couple of days but still, pretty impressive run of moisture across portions of Bangladesh and areas across the West Bengal region in eastern India, were 100 to 120 millimeters have come down.

But anytime you kind of put a map like this and look at the accumulations over the span of the next 10 days, you know rainfall is not going anywhere anytime soon, especially around the Western periphery of the subcontinent and certainly, into areas of the higher elevations there of Bangladesh.

And you'll notice where the current positioning is of the monsoons, we do expect this to progress farther towards the north and some of that beneficial rainfall. Hopefully arrives areas that hadn't seen it just yet as opposed to the areas that have seen so much of it in recent days.

But I will also talk about what's happening because the monsoonal moisture also in place across areas of eastern China. The Meiyu Baiu (PH) rains, the ancient Chinese will tell you all about these because the direct translation for the Meiyu rains means the plum rains and that is because they would know that within say 30 to 45 days of heavy rainfall from the month of May through the month of as the early July, you'd know it's time to harvest the plums.

And this is the time of year the rainfall is at its heaviest climatological peak. Look at all the months across Hong Kong, for example, the month of June by far the wettest month. They're kind of peeks into the month of June, July and August and the thunderstorms are going to be prevalent across this region. Showers certainly going to be in place as well. But the flooding potential decreases for at least areas of eastern China as that energy shifts a little farther towards the north.

Now, we've had lots of heat and severe weather across portions of Europe to tell you about. In fact, severe weather threat is in place here across parts of Central Europe. Some of the areas have seen quite a bit of heat in recent days.

And look at this, up here it's finally cools off to about 25 degrees. The forecast is going to take us right back up hill again over the next several days as summer officially arrives later today across the northern hemisphere.

COREN: Pedram, you're absolutely right about the rainfall here in Hong Kong. We've barely had a sunny day. It has been very wet. Pedram, as always great to see you. Thank you.


COREN: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Hong Kong.

Up next, the January 6 committee turns its focus to Donald Trump's pressure campaign on state officials to overturn the 2020 election.

Plus, we'll meet the woman making history in Colombia. A teen mother soon to being the country's first black vice president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COREN: The committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot returns with more live hearings in the day ahead. The panel is expected to present evidence that Donald Trump ignored warnings that his election conspiracies were leading to threats and violence.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has the details.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The January 6 committee getting ready to shift its focus to Trump's role in his scheme to submit fake electors all in a bid to overturn the 2020 election. They'll call three Republicans on Tuesday all expected to testify about how Trump pressured them to overturn Trump's lost at the polls in their states.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will talk about this phone call with the former president just days before January 6th.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes which is one more than what we have.

SCHNEIDER: Raffensperger Chief Operating Officer Gabe Sterling will also appear. And from Arizona, the Republican speaker of the state's House will testify as well. Rusty Bowers said Trump asked him directly to replace the electors in the state with a rogue slate.

RUSTY BOWERS, ARIZONA STATE HOUSE SPEAKER: I talked to him a couple of times. And they were -- they'd asked me to take some steps that I just wouldn't do. And I told him I voted for him. I've campaigned for him, but I told him I wasn't going to do anything illegal.

SCHNEIDER: Bowers also received e-mails from Ginni Thomas, urging him to set aside Biden's election win by replacing Democratic electors where the Republican slate. The committee has asked Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to testify.

Ginni Thomas issued a short response to a conservative publication saying I can't wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them.

Thomas was the only justice to vote against releasing White House Records to the committee in January. Now, Schiff says Thomas should recuse himself from any future cases involving the committee.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Justice Thomas to avoid even the appearance of impropriety should have nothing to do with any cases relating to January 6, particularly we're regarding our investigation.

SCHNEIDER: A new poll out from ABC News after three hearings shows nearly six in 10 Americans believe former President Trump should be prosecuted. It's a case the committee is making.

ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): The president is guilty of knowing what he did, seditious conspiracy. What we're presenting before the American people certainly would rise to a level of criminal involvement by a president.

SCHNEIDER: But so far, DOJ refusing to comment though prosecutors recently complained that the committee's refusal to hand over all of its records complicates their job.


SCHNEIDER: Committee members Zoe Lofgren says the dispute could be resolved as early as July once the hearings conclude.

And meanwhile, Schiff is leaving the door open to subpoena Vice President Mike Pence.

SCHIFF: There are still keep people we have not interviewed that we would like to. We're not taking anything off the table in terms of witnesses who have not yet testified.

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Also scheduled to testify on Tuesday, Shaye Moss. She's a former election worker who Trump accused of carrying out a fake ballot scheme in Fulton County, Georgia.

Committee aides say that she will speak about the threats she received as the result of Trump's false claims.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


COREN: You can see the entire hearing plus in depth analysis right here on CNN starting at 1:00 p.m. in Washington, that's 6:00 p.m. London, 1:0 a.m. here in Hong Kong.

Colombia will swear in its next president on August 7th, Gustavo Petro faces a multitude of challenges, including the economic fallout from coronavirus, social inequality and political violence. His running mate will make history as the country's first black vice president.

Stefano Pozzebon has her story.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When Francia Marquez left school at 16 due to teenage pregnancy, she would have never thought 25 years later, her name would be chanted on the streets.

It's a remarkable turnaround for a political leader whose career began as a gold miner, then as a house cleaner, environmental defender, and now the vice president elect of her country.

This Sunday, her name made history as a left wing coalition reached power for the first time ever in Colombia. And Marcus became the first vice president elect of Afro Colombian descent. A significant moment she was fully aware of during the campaign.

FRANCIA MARQUEZ, COLOMBIAN VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): I was thinking of that dream of Martin Luther King, I also have a dream. I have a dream to see my country at peace, to see my country full of joy and dignity.

POZZEBON: Her political run has energized a new generation under the slogan of (INAUDIBLE) save her life, but has also been the target of hate and racist attacks.

She held rallies behind gun shields after receiving death threats, when a famous singer called her King Kong (PH) on the campaign trail.

POZZEBON (on camera): History was made when Francia Marquez walked onto the stage just behind my back, never before a woman of African descent held executive powers in this country. And her supporters say this is just the first step to correct grievances that they have from sanctuaries.

The Afro-Colombian community traces its roots to slaves brought here in the 1600s, Markus (PH) herself told CNN one of her ancestors was enslaved in Africa and taken to Colombia to work in gold mines.

The Colombian Pacific Coast is home to the second largest Afro descendant community in South America, but one that has been historically neglected and marginalized.

Here, people say it's easier to join the army than go to university.

For young people like Marlin Garces, Marquez represents a change for the entire community.

MARLIN GARCES, FRANCIA MARQUEZ SUPPORTER: We're moving from struggle to power. We're showing this is not temporary. The community identifies with this battle.

POZZEBON: Change often happens in unexpected ways. It was 2008 when hope and change swept the first African American president into office in the U.S.

Back then, Marquez was forced to leave her home after an international company purchased the mining titles on the land she was living.

Now, it's her supporters who chant yes, we can.

Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, Bogota.


COREN: Well, thousands of flights were delayed or canceled over the weekend. Plus, a sea of backlog baggage.

Major airlines and busy airports say they were caught by surprise. A look at what's causing the travel trouble, that's next.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back. Well, air travel is returning to normal now after several days of widespread delays and flight cancellations.


Tracking service flight aware says that, as of Monday night, more than 17,000 flights were delayed and hundreds canceled. Airlines and airports are struggling with the shortage of staff, forcing them to cut the number of flights they can schedule.

In the U.S., the CEO of United Airlines is calling on the government to help get the industry back on track in the wake of the pandemic.

The strain has caused problems at some of the busiest airports in the West recent weeks.

Heathrow Airport is apologizing after a technical glitch threw its package system into disarray over the weekend, leading to this sea of backlogged baggage.

CNN's Richard Quest went to Doha for the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association. The group's director general says they are working hard to fix the problems that airports were caught by surprise this travel season.


WILLIE WALSH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION: There's been problems, some airports are isolated. It's not every day of the week. It's not every week of the summer. You, know you have to expect as the recovery took -- you know, gutter pace. It actually was moving must faster than people had expected.

I've got to actually express some sympathy for airports, which is the one and only time you would never hear me say this. But I think it has caught them by surprise. These issues will be addressed.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Wow! You had Amsterdam asking Caroline (ph) to reduce flights. Gatwick is now asking people to reduce flights. Heathrow. I mean, major --

WALSH: That's three airports. Come on. There's thousands of airports around the world. So we picked on three airports, who I love picking on, by the way. And you can add Dublin into the mix.

But I've gone through all of these airports. I've flown through Gatwick. I've flown through Amsterdam, Heathrow, Dublin. Yes! It is busier. But it's not like it's portrayed, that it's chaos there every day of the week. There are problems; the problems will be addressed.

QUEST: Are the problems with the airlines who followed and laid off and now can't get back? Or the airports who did similar? Or are both guilty?

WALSH: No, I think to be fair, there are airlines who are problems, as well. But I have a lot of sympathy for airlines who have furloughed and laid off people, particularly in the U.K., because if you look at it, in September of last year when the U.K. government ended their support for the airlines, if you look at who has been supported, 38 percent of airlines were still availing of the -- 38 percent of airline employees were still availing after support. And it was cut off overnight.

You know, the U.K. was actually very slow to recover in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter this year. It's only in the second quarter that things have really started picking up.


COREN: Be sure to watch the next hour. We'll hear from an air travel analyst about what consumers should know before booking their next flight this season.

Still to come on NEWSROOM, we'll meet a Russian priest who defies the Kremlin and gives shelter to Ukrainians desperately fleeing the war.



COREN: More now on the war in Ukraine. Actor Ben Stiller, who is a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, visited with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Kyiv on World Refugee Day on Monday.

Stiller called for a collective global responsibility to protect people who are displaced because of war.


BEN STILLER, ACTOR/GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: Hey, I'm Ben Stiller, and I'm here in Ukraine. I'm meeting people who have been impacted by the war and hearing how it's changed their lives. War and violence are devastating people all over the world. Nobody chooses to flee their home. Seeking safety is a right, and it needs to be upheld for every person.


COREN: U.N. data shows more than two and a half million Ukrainian refugees are in Europe. Nineteen percent of them are women and children.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the story of a Russian priest who's become a lifeline for refugees hoping to reach the E.U.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The church, a single bare room in a former factory in St. Petersburg. But Reverend Grigory Mihnov-Vaytenko's tiny parish is a humanitarian powerhouse. He's helped scores of Ukrainians, displaced by what Moscow calls its special military operation, get to the European Union.

REV. GRIGORY MIKHNOV-VAYTENKO, RUSSIAN PRIEST: There are thousands, thousands of people, because every day, every day, a few hundred people go. PLEITGEN (voice-over): Most of the Ukrainians sheltering in this

hostel in St. Petersburg are from Mariupol, a city almost completely destroyed by artillery, airstrikes, and urban combat.

On March 9, the city's maternity clinic was hit, a now-infamous incident that killed four people and wounded scores, including Victoria Shiskena (ph), who lost her unborn baby.

"They did a caesarean operation. There was panic everywhere, but they said they have to save me," she says. "They saw that the child had no more vital signs. They tried to pull him out and reanimate him, but the explosion hit me right in the belly, and they couldn't save them."

A double tragedy as her husband, Vladimir (ph), was also hit by shelling as he was trying to visit Victoria (ph), killing a friend walking with him.

"I heard a loud ring in my ears, and I thought to myself, I'm dead, too," he says. "But I looked down at my leg, and my kneecap had been torn off. I crawled to a fence and screamed, 'Help! Help!'"

Vladimir's (ph) leg later had to be amputated.

Thanks to Reverend Grigory and his network of volunteers, they made it to St. Petersburg, where like so many, they stay free of charge at this hostel, waiting to leave Russia.

Ukraine has accused Russia of targeting civilians in Mariupol. Russia denies those claims and instead blamed Ukraine.

Bogdan Stanshankov (ph) and his family also escaped Mariupol. They lived near the Mariupol Drama Theater, which was bombed in mid-March, reportedly killing hundreds, though the exact number remains unknown.


As his neighborhood was being flattened, Bogdan (ph) took his wife, his son, and his eight-month-old baby girl, Kyra (ph), and fled, ending up in southwestern Russia. Like everyone here, they want to get to the European Union.

MIKHNOV-VAYTENKO: Very many people.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Reverend Grigory says that Russia does not prevent Ukrainians from leaving the country. But due to a lack of information, some end up in remote regions of this massive country.

MIKHNOV-VAYTENKO: They have no information. This is the main problem. They have no information on what they can do, and what is possible to do, where they can go.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The costs of moving so many Ukrainians, some severely wounded, to the E.U. are massive. Reverend Grigory relies on donations, mostly by Russian hospitals, companies, business people, and ordinary citizens, some opposed to what Russia calls the special military operation but afraid to speak out. Reverend Grigory left the Russian Orthodox Church in 2014. Its head

patriarch, Kirill, is a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and supporter of the special military operation.

MIKHNOV-VAYTENKO: For me, it was not possible to stay there, when they have -- have a military church.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Reverend Grigory says he doesn't fear speaking openly about his opposition to Russia's actions in Ukraine. He only fears God. As he sees Victoria and Vladimir off, they've gotten the go to head to Germany, where Vladimir is set to receive a prosthetic limb, a bit nervous but also grateful for the chance to start a new life, thanks to the help of Reverend Grigory and his band of supporters.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.


COREN: What amazing work he's doing.

Well, the daughter of outspoken Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, says it's President Vladimir Putin's intent to keep her father in prison as long as possible.

Speaking with CNN, she confirmed Navalny's move to a maximum-security prison, which she says is known for torturing and murdering inmates.

And although her father has been isolated and cut off from most communication, she says it's a reflection on Putin, not Russia as a whole.


DASHA NAVALNY, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S DAUGHTER: Putin doesn't want him speaking. Putin doesn't want everyone knowing that his government is corrupt. And, you know, the most important thing that we -- we like to communicate is that no one should associate Putin with Russia, because Putin, he doesn't represent Russia, and Russia is not Putin.


COREN: Another Kremlin critic, Russian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov, put his prize medal up for auction to support children displaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It sold for more than $103 million, which will go directly to UNICEF.

Muratov is the editor of a newspaper critical of the Kremlin and won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist, Maria Ressa.

Well, thank you so much for watching. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. I'll be back in about 15 minutes with more news. WORLD SPORT starts after the break.