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Tensions Rise Over Blocked Sanctioned Goods To Kaliningrad; Fears Grow Over Fate Of Volunteers Captured Fighting Russians; During The January 6 Hearings, State Officials Say Donald Trump Pressured Them On Election; Top Texas Official Shares New Details on Uvalde Police Response; U.K. Commuters Struggle Through Transport Delays; 76- Year-Old Artist Paints Her Feelings About Ukraine. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 22, 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. Just ahead.


RUSTY BOWERS, ARIZONA HOUSE SPEAKER: You're asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath.


COREN: Day four of the U.S. Capitol riot hearings, hear from the officials who told then President Trump no.

New threats from the Kremlin over what could happen to Americans captured in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin spokesperson says they could face the death penalty.

Deserted London tube stations amid the U.K.'s largest railway strike in decades. How disruptions for commuters aren't likely to get better anytime soon.

We'll begin in Ukraine where troops are trying to hold the line in the East despite Russian games. On Tuesday, we learned Russian troops have now seized another village on the outskirts of Severodonetsk. Brutal fighting has raged there for weeks as Russian forces push to topple one of the last Ukrainian strongholds in the Luhansk region. Part of a campaign to seize control of the wider Donbas.

To the north, Russia is intensifying its attacks near Kharkiv. Ukrainian officials said Tuesday at least 15 people were killed and 16 wounded in shelling around the city. They say an 8-year-old girl is among the victims.

Elsewhere in Kharkiv region, a massive fire at a gas factory is still burning out of control days after it was targeted by Russian missile strikes.

In his nightly address, Ukraine's president accused Russian troops of attacking Kharkiv for no reason, just to show they're doing something.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In the Kharkiv region, there is brutal and cynical Russian artillery shelling. It will not give anything to the occupiers. But the Russian army is deaf to any rationality. It simply destroys, simply kills. In this way, it shows us command that it is not standing still.


COREN: Mr. Zelenskyy also announced more support from European allies saying Luxembourg will commit 15 percent of its own defense budget to support Ukraine.

The news came the same day Luxembourg's Prime Minister visit Kyiv as well as some of the suburbs that were the scenes of horrific violence early in the war.

Meanwhile, Germany's chancellor says his country will continue supporting Ukraine as long as they need the help.


OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that Europe and the Western democracies as a whole do not accept the violent attack on Ukraine. Ukraine must be able to defend itself against this aggression.

It is very clear that we will continue to support Ukraine also with weapons. And we will continue to do so for as long as Ukraine needs our support.


COREN: Ukraine's president is accusing Russia of an aggressive anti- European policy, noting Russia's angry response to Lithuania just this week. Well, that came after Lithuania blocked sanctioned goods from Europe into Kaliningrad, Russia's western most territory and the only part of the country surrounded by E.U. states.

There is concerned Kaliningrad could become a flashpoint in tensions between Moscow and Europe. The E.U. is backing its member state for enforcing its sanctions. Russia meantime has called the action unprecedented and illegal and is vowing to respond.


NIKOLA PATRUSHEV, RUSSIA'S SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY (through translator): This example shows that you cannot trust either verbal statements by the West or written ones. Russia will certainly respond to such hostile actions, appropriate measures are being worked out between departments and will be taken in the near future. Their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania.


COREN: Jill Dougherty is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She's also a CNN contributor and former Moscow Bureau Chief. Jill, great to see you. Tell us the significance of Kaliningrad.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, when I think of Kaliningrad, the first word that springs to mind is strategic. It is highly strategic for Russia.

I mean, if you look at the map, it tells it all. It is the most western part of Russia. And it kind of -- the way it turned out to be Russian territory was after World War II Germany's defeated. This was the old Konigsberg which belonged to Germany and at the end of the war in 1946, it turns over to the Soviet Union and then, Germans move out, many of them fled, and then income Russian civilians and essentially becomes a Russian territory, which it is legally.


DOUGHERTY: So, why it's strategic is because of its location on the Baltic Sea. It's an ice free port. It has an ice free port. It's the headquarters of the Baltic Fleet, which is very important for Russia. Of course, it is -- it's central between Lithuania and Poland.

So again, you're talking about a lot of strategic importance. And I think it's important to mention, they do have a lot of armaments, and they have nuclear capable missiles.

COREN: Well, Jill, we know that Russia is furious about Lithuania's decision to ban passage of sanction goods across Kaliningrad. They are threatening retaliation. How do you see that playing out?

DOUGHERTY: You know, that really is the question because there are all sorts of possible scenarios, and none of them sound very good. I mean, remember, Lithuania, is a member of NATO. So, you have the possibility of actually confrontation, direct confrontation between a NATO country and Russia.

Then, also, I mentioned the nuclear possibility, they do have weapons that are capable of having nuclear warheads. That's another factor that could come into play.

Then, you have the possibility -- these are all possibilities, maybe I hope not probabilities, that Russia might decide to cut off the Baltic States, as has been talked about for quite a while.

But you know, we have to get to the core of this really, which is Ukraine, and the sanctions that have been imposed by the E.U. on Russia, because of the invasion of Ukraine. That's really at the core of this, because Russia is saying, well, let's start with Ukraine -- with Lithuania.

Lithuania is banning the transit of goods that are held under sanctions. In other words, Lithuania is implementing the sanctions by the E.U. against Russia. Russia says that that is completely illegal, that it breaks an agreement that was signed, I think it was in 2004 if I'm not mistaken.

So -- but Lithuania says no, we are not banning all goods, we're banning the goods that the E.U. has sanctions on, other goods can come through.

Now, the fight continues. And then that threat, which really is quite serious that Russia will take appropriate measures that really could have the quote as "serious, negative impact on the population of Lithuania". We don't know what that will be. But we do believe that could come pretty soon.

COREN: Tell us about the potential fallout. I mean, you were recently in Lithuania, how are people there feeling about what is it taking place on their doorstep?

DOUGHERTY: You know, there's always a very high level, I would say in the Baltic countries level of concern, perhaps fear that Russia might do something, you know, invade, cut them off, etcetera.

And so, that continues. And now, I left just a few weeks ago now with this latest wrinkle. I would say the, you know, the sense of concern is even higher.

And the problem is, you can see the anger of Russia about this. This hurts Russia, you know, they buy in Kaliningrad, they buy their food from the European Union, that essentially all the big stuff, you know, construction equipment, energy supplies, you name it, they get it from Russia. And it comes in through on rail, through Lithuania.

And also, in connection with this. There is a ban on Russian airlines flying into that region. So, what's left, it's the water, so they would have to ship things by sea. This gets very complicated. It's going to hurt Russia, and that Russia is ready to respond.

But again, we don't know precisely how.

COREN: Jill Dougherty, always great to get your perspective. Thanks so much for joining us.

DOUGHERTY: Thank you, Anna.

COREN: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland became the latest top ranking American official to visit Ukraine on Tuesday. Garland met with his Ukrainian counterpart to discuss efforts by the U.S. and others to hold those committing war crimes accountable for their actions. Here's the attorney general's warning.



MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The United States is sending an unmistakable message. There is no place to hide. We will -- we and our partners will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable.


COREN: The U.S. Justice Department has also tapped top Nazi Hunter Eli Rosenbaum to lead a team of experts to identify and prosecute anyone committing war crimes in Ukraine.

Well, fears are growing about the fate of two Americans held by Russian or pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. The Kremlin has suggested the men could face the death penalty, a threat the White House Calls "appalling".


JOHN KIRBY, PRESS SECRETARY, PENTAGON: It's appalling that a public official in Russia would even suggest the death penalty for two American citizens that were in Ukraine.


COREN: Well, CNN's Kylie Atwood takes a closer look at the plight of Americans being held by Russia and its proxies and the heartbreak it's bringing for their loved ones back home.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dire new threat from Russia to the lives of two Americans captured in Ukraine. The Kremlin spokesperson claiming Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh are soldiers of fortune and not protected by the rules governing prisoners of war. Dmitry Peskov saying this when asked if they would be spared the death sentence.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN PRESS SECRETARY: No, I cannot guarantee anything, it depends on the investigation.

ATWOOD: Their families tell CNN both men were fighting in the Ukrainian army.

JOY BLACK, FIANCE OF ANDY TAI NGOC HUYNH, AMERICAN CAPTIVE IN UKRAINE: Andy and Alex are not mercenaries. They are not soldiers of fortune. They are a part of the Ukrainian military. They are a part of the military, meaning that they are prisoners of war and they should be treated as such under the Geneva Convention.

NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We have both publicly as well as privately called on the Russian government and its proxies to live up to their international obligations in their treatment of all individuals, including those captured fighting in Ukraine.

ATWOOD: One American still wrongfully detained in Russian prison is WNBA star Brittney Griner. This week, her wife, Cherelle Griner expressed deep frustration with the Biden administration after Brittney unsuccessfully tried to call her 11 times on their anniversary on Saturday. The call had been planned for almost two weeks she said, "I find it unacceptable and I have zero trust in our government right now. If I can't trust you to catch a Saturday call outside of business hours, how can I trust you to actually be negotiating on my wife's behalf to come home? Because that's a much bigger ask than to catch a Saturday call," Cherelle told the Associated Press.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price expressed regret and said the call has been rescheduled.

PRICE: It was a mistake.

ATWOOD: Today, in an open letter to the president, the families of more than a dozen Americans wrongfully detained around the world are demanding a face to face with the Commander in Chief. Mr. President, we need you. We need your clear leadership to prioritize the expeditious resolution of these cases, they wrote, in describing themselves as exhausted, traumatized and beleaguered.

And the family of Matthew Heath, who's being held in Venezuela, voice dire concerns after he tried to take his own life this week. Now urgently asking the White House to act before it's too late.

EVERETT RUTHERFORD, UNCLE OF MATTHEW HEATH, WRONGFULLY DETAINED AMERICAN IN VENEZUELA: We do not think he is out of the woods. This particular suicide attempt was not successful, thank goodness. We have every confidence that he will try again.

ATWOOD (on camera): Secretary of State Tony Blinken is going to have a virtual conversation with the families of American hostages and of Americans wrongfully detained abroad on Wednesday, that's according to a senior State Department official. And we know that Matthew Heath's family is going to be a part of that conversation, that's what his aunt told CNN.

And it'll be interesting to see how this conversation goes, given the circumstances that have happened, the situations that have happened over the last few days and weeks. And particularly because these families, many of them, have been demanding to meet with President Biden, not to have a meeting with the Secretary of State.

Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.


COREN: Still ahead, racist comments, harassment at home and even death threats, U.S. election officials testify about the price they paid for standing up to Donald Trump's election conspiracies.

And later, a top Texas official is sharing new details about the police response to the Uvalde school shooting, a response he calls an abject failure.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [00:16:50]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a tyrant, you are a felon and you must turn yourself into the authorities immediately.


COREN: Just a sample there of some of the evidence presented during the latest January 6 hearings. Lawmakers will be back at it on Thursday.

For now, witnesses are describing the violent threats they received as a result of Donald Trump's false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

The panel also heard from state election officials who said Trump and his attorneys asked them to break the law, overturn the vote and keep him in the White House.

CNN's Pamela Brown has the details.


BOWERS: You're asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Rusty Bowers, the Republican House speaker in Arizona, offering powerful testimony about the pressure he faced from former President Trump and his legal team to decertify Arizona's legitimate election results showing Joe Biden as the winner.

BOWERS: He said just do it and let the courts sort it out. And I said, you're asking me to do something that's never been done in history, the history of the United States. No, sir. He said, well, my suggestion would be, just do it and let the courts figure it all out.

BROWN: Bowers also telling the committee, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani acknowledged they didn't have any proof of fraud. Bowers even disputing the claim Trump made about him shortly before the hearing.

BOWERS: Anywhere, anyone, anytime, had said that I said the election was rigged, that would not be true.

BROWN: The committee demonstrating how state officials remain steadfast in the fact of a constant barrage of calls.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Mr. Speaker, this is Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. We're calling you together because we'd like to discuss, obviously, the election.

JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: Hello, Mr. Speaker, this is Jenna Ellis, and I'm here with Mayor Giuliani.

BROWN: The committee revealing how Trump-aligned members of Congress like Arizona Republican Andy Biggs urged Bowers to throw out Biden electors and detailing how Trump's election lies inspired many of his supporters around the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The punishment for treason is death.

BROWN: Some supporters even threatening election workers.

JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: We started to hear the noises outside my home, and that's -- my stomach sunk. And I thought, it's me. That was the scariest moment, just not knowing what was going to happen.

WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere. It's affect my life in a major way, in every way.

BROWN: The committee used Trump's own words to make its case, playing audio of an hour long phone call he made to Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.

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

BROWN: Raffensperger, who is Republican, insisted Georgia's election result were accurate.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Every single allegation we checked, we ran down the rabbit trail to make sure that our numbers were accurate.


BROWN: Trump's top two officials in the Justice Department also testifying.

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: We didn't see any evidence of fraud in the Fulton County episode.

RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed.

BROWN: State officials are already investigating Trump's pressure campaign in Georgia and that call, specifically, for any criminal wrongdoing.

FANI WILLIAMS, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: If there's ever a crime and it's ongoing, we're going to look at everything.

BROWN (on camera): Vice Chair Liz Cheney put public pressure on the former White House counsel under Trump, Pat Cipollone to testify publicly, saying the American people deserve to hear from him personally.

But the source close to Pat Cipollone says he has resisted those invitations to testify publicly because he feels he's already been cooperating with the committee. He sat down with the committee for an interview behind closed doors and the source says that he has institutional and privilege concerns. But we heard Congresswoman Cheney say that they are still working on it. So, we'll have to see and wait what happens.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Capitol Hill.


COREN: There are only two Republicans on the January 6th Committee and the House GOP leader is dodging questions about criticism from Trump for his decision not to appoint more. Reporters asked Kevin McCarthy if he thinks Trump was right to pressure state officials and his Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You know, the president always has a right to question an election just as the Democrats question, just as Bennie Thompson voted against the electorate vote, just as Raskin who sits on this committee said President Trump should be impeached before the president was even sworn in.

So, look, I know you've got a lot of questions that hovered directly to your -- to your viewers, but I think your viewers also care more about inflation.


COREN: CNN Political Commentator Alice Stewart joins me now from New York. Alice, great to have you with us. You describe yourself as a rational Republican but what is going on with the GOP? Some say it's divorced from reality.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We have seen evidence in these January 6th hearings that the former president is divorced from reality.

Unfortunately, a lot of his devout followers and his solid base are the same. And what we're seeing is, with more of the evidence coming out of the January 6 hearings, a lot of Republicans are just indifferent about it. Some are even looking at it through a hostile lens.

Many that I speak with are concerned with the makeup of the January 6 hearing and concern that the fact there are no Trump allies on the hearing asking the question and in their minds putting the testimony or what we're hearing in a different context.

But most people, rational Republicans are looking at what we're hearing and seeing as really concerning, and damaging to our democracy, and seeing the former president have really credible, loyal and intelligent aides give him incredible and important advice and him discredit that in exchange for someone like Rudy Giuliani, and really allowing him to continue the fraud of the election -- false election results. And it's really concerning.

And more importantly, what -- people that are looking at this with an open mind for rational answers out of this, we're seeing some of the most damaging testimony and evidence from Trump's own inner circle, from his own daughter, from high officials, Bill Stepien, Jason Miller, Bill Barr, and when we're hearing damaging information from his own top officials, that's when a lot of people I would like to think the more they see this are going to see the light of day.

COREN: You would hope so, Alice, but I would ask you why it's not resonating? Because we know that the January 6 committee hearings are for the history books and for the public to know what happened that day. That, you know, democracy was clearly in danger.

But it would seem that as you say, the testimony, whether it be from Trump's lawyers, his daughter, the former attorney general, just does not resonate with some Republicans and the emotions they range from indifference to outright hostility. So, why is this?

STEWART: There's a big factor I switch over every now and then to another network and another website where a lot of his face gets their news and information. They're barely covering it.

So, when their main source of news and Trump information is not covering this, like it should, they don't see the significance of this and many of them have really resigned themselves to the fact that President Trump, if he claimed that there the election was stolen, and he, Joe Biden is not the duly elected president, many of them are buying into that.


STEWART: But also, they are also looking at this as this is one of former president's past grievances, I'm more focused on the current economic situation in this country and future elections.

So, many people is important as this is to have a document and documentation of what happened on January 6th into our election process and to hold people accountable. There are a lot of Republicans that are simply looking at this as something that happened in the past, and they're focused on the future.

There was an ABC poll that did come out recently and said that six out of 10 Americans believe that Donald Trump should be held accountable and possibly face charges for his involvement in January 6th, but only 20 percent of them are Republicans.

So, we're seeing a very small fraction of Republicans who think that Donald Trump should be held accountable for what he did.

I'm a firm believer, and that this was -- this was his party. He invited people there. And he should be held accountable for not just the destruction to our democracy, but as well as the damage to the Capitol and people died on that day and someone needs to be held accountable.

COREN: Yes, we cannot forget that.

Alice, you mentioned media outlets, and the fact that they're not even giving any time whatsoever to these hearings. I mean, they are also perpetuating this big lie, Trump's big lie, which has become entrenched with the GOP. I mean, what do you believe will it take for it to be corrected?

STEWART: Well, look, what we're -- as I said, we're hearing from his own top aides that he had their credible advice before the election that he was going to lose and during the election on Election Day and after, yet he continued to double down into his false claims that the election was stolen.

I'm going to keep my eyes open, Anna, for what we're going to see in the coming days of videotape of a documentary filmmaker who was in the room in the Oval Office on Election Day and leading up to January 6th. This video has been subpoenaed, we are expected to see what Donald Trump was saying and doing and his mindset during that time.

I would like to think that there will be some shred of information coming out of that video that will undoubtedly cause people to see that Donald Trump knew full well that the election was done full of integrity and that he lost the election and these false claims of voter fraud and raising money on the backs of Americans based on a lie. I would like to think that we're going to get a better glimpse of what exactly was going on, and who knew what when, when we do see that documentary film.

COREN: I mean, Alice, you would hope common sense prevails, but I'm not so sure. Alice Stewart, great to have you with us. Thank you for your time.

STEWART: Thanks, Anna.

COREN: The U.S. Senate has just taken a key step to advance a bipartisan gun safety bill just hours after a group of senators released the legislative text.

The leading Republican negotiators, Senator John Cornyn walked through what's in the bill. Among the items included: more money for mental health programs and school safety, more funding for crisis intervention programs, which could also include money to implement so- called Red Flag laws.

The bill would also close the so-called boyfriend loophole, so that people convicted of domestic violence cannot own or purchase a gun.

Ahead over Tuesday night's vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this bill represents progress.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I'm pleased that for the first time in nearly 30 years, Congress is back on the path to take meaningful action to address gun violence. I will now take the first steps to move this life saving legislation on the Senate floor for a vote with an initial procedural vote tonight. And following that, we will move to final passage as soon as possible. I expect the bill to pass the Senate by the week's end.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COREN: Well, this action meant to help counter gun violence, it comes nearly a month after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where as we're learning more unsettling details about the police response.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has more.


COL. STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: The law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, new information detailing a law enforcement response gone horribly wrong. The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety showing a damning and detailed minute by minute timeline, chronicling the deadly attack that killed 19 children and two adults and laying the blame on Pete Arredondo, the school districts police chief for the failed response.

MCCRAW: Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was sufficient number of armed officers, wearing body armor, to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject.


PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Colonel Steve McCraw telling Texas lawmakers that 11 officers responded to the shooting and were inside the school by 11:36, within three minutes of the gunman entering the school, including school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo.

Yet, according to McCraw, they didn't do anything for over an hour at the guidance of Arredondo.

MCCRAW: The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Initially, authorities said the gunman entered two adjacent classrooms and barricaded himself behind locked doors.

However, McCraw says video from the scene indicates not one of the eventual responding officers tried to open either of those doors, until moments before they took the gunman down. And it had been unlocked the entire time.

MCCRAW: There's no way to lock the door from the inside. And there's no way for the subject to lock the door from the inside.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): McCraw revealed the strike plate on the door had been malfunctioning and wouldn't hold a lock. A new image from surveillance footage obtained by "The Austin American-Statesman" shows the halls of Robb Elementary at 11:52.

At least three officers were in the hallway, two with rifles, and one who appears to have a tactical shield. Just 19 minutes after the gunman entered the school.

MCCRAW: The doctrine for active shooters is clear. You stop the killing; you stop the dying.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Despite this, they waited in the hallway outside the classrooms and didn't attempt to enter until 12:50 p.m., at the direction of Arredondo, according to McCraw. Arredondo is facing harsh criticism for his alleged lack of action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were failed by Peter Arredondo. He failed our kids, teachers, parents, and city.

JOSE FLORES, FATHER OF UVALDE SHOOTING VICTIM: Standing back a whole hour, leaving them inside with the gunman is not right. It's cowardice, cowardly. Cowardly stuff.

PROKUPECZ: Now CNN has reached out to Arredondo's attorney. He has not returned our calls.

Interestingly enough, Arredondo was actually in the building today, testifying before a House committee, which is conducting its own investigation.

The differences is, so that's not in the public view. That's being conducted behind closed doors. So we don't know what's being said there.

And also, interestingly enough, that Arredondo has denied being on scene commander. In statements that he made, in an interview to "The Texas Tribune." Of course, the families, many of them telling us yesterday-- we were at a hearing with him, a school board hearing, and the outrage certainly -- the concern that they have with the chief, with Chief Arredondo still being employed by the town, many of them saying that they wanted Arredondo fired.

Shimon Prokupecz, CNN, Austin.


COREN: Coming up on NEWSROOM, the U.K.'s biggest rail strike in decades leaves London's busiest stations deserted. How commuters could be facing even more delays over the summer months.



COREN: In Montreal, Canadians lined up outside the passport office Monday for a chance to get their travel documents. The COVID pandemic caused months of delays in processing passports, and now that travel restrictions have been lifted, the office is facing a huge demand.

Authorities and people on social media say there are also delays in Toronto, Vancouver and Ontario passport offices.

Well, the morning commute is starting right now for many people in the U.K., and they can expect more train delays due to a nationwide railway strike over pay rises.

Unions say conditions could get worse over the summer as teachers, medics, waste disposal workers, and even lawyers look at labor action due to rising inflation.

Well, CNN's Scott McLean spoke to Londoners affected by the biggest rail strike in decades.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The U.K. has returned to relative normality for a long time now, but this week, it is feeling a lot like a day at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just a trickle of people coming through London Bridge station, one of the busiest stations in the entire United Kingdom. Most of the proud platforms closed off, because only 20 percent or so of trains across all of England, Scotland and Wales are actually running because of the biggest rail strike in the U.K. in the last 30 years.

We've been talking to people here, and many who have managed to make it to Central London say they're finding it difficult, sometimes impossible to make it to their final destinations elsewhere in the city, because this is also impacting the London Underground, the tube system, in a city where most people don't actually have a car.

What I found striking, though, is that most people have a lot of sympathy for these striking workers. The question, though, is how long will that sympathy last?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody has issues with speed, but you know, it's not going to happen. Nobody comes. So they're saying everything is increasing. But we just have to go to work, as well. Because if we don't work, we don't get paid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very inconsiderate. And I support the actions. But it's coming at the cost of everyday people.

MCLEAN: Do you think that you'll make it at all today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope so. I have patients waiting I can't see now.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Further strike action is set to take place Thursday and Saturday of this week. The unions are hinting that this could go on, potentially, for months.

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, calls this strike wrong and unnecessary, especially since the government bailed out the rail industry, making sure that no workers lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The unions see things differently. They say, because of the pandemic, they had two years of pay freezes. Now they just want their wages to keep up with inflation. MCLEAN: The difficulty is that inflation, in this country, is now 7

percent and forecast to get even worse before it starts to get better. The government's concern is that a large pay rise like that would actually make inflation even worse.

Scott McLean, CNN, London.


COREN: Well, Russia is known to quash dissent over its actions in Ukraine, but for this artist in St. Petersburg, even a battalion of riot police will not silence her creative mind.


COREN: Hundreds came to St. Peter and Paul Garrison Church in central Lviv to pay their respects for a Ukrainian soldier killed defending his country from Russia's invasion.

The funeral for 27-year-old Artem Dymyd was held Tuesday. His family says when Russia invaded in February, he was in the U.S. but soon, bought a helmet and a flak jacket and went straight to the front line.


His mother says her son was killed by a mortar shelling near Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.

In Russia, those who show dissent against what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine can face arrest, fines, and imprisonment. But that isn't scaring everyone.

Fred Pleitgen speaks with an elderly St. Petersburg artist, who is using her paintings to send a pointed message. A caution, though: his report contains graphic images.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Yelena Osipova might seem a bit frail, but her will is strong and her creativity seems unstoppable.

The 76-year-old artist has been detained for several antiwar protests since Russia began what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

But when we visited her in her apartment in St. Petersburg, she showed no signs of feeling intimidated, instead complaining that police had taken her posters.

"They took some away and haven't given them back, although they promised to give them back to me," she says. "This has been going on for some time."

So, she keeps painting more posters, like this one, a bird symbolizing Russia with the writing, "Russia is mourning" and "Russia is not Putin."

"It's a repentant bird," she says, "a bird in mourning. And there are many such people in mourning here."

Yelena Osipova is not afraid to speak out about even the most difficult topics, like the massacre in Bucha, where hundreds of dead bodies were found in the Kyiv suburb after Russian forces retreated from there in early April.

Ukraine and international investigators have launched investigations into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Moscow continues to reject its forces were responsible.

The very large poster shows dead people with huge, piercing open eyes. The text says, "The eyes of the dead will remain open until Russia repents."

"For me, what was important in this poster is this word, 'repent,'" she says. "It was important to me to emphasize it."

While some Russians took to the streets to protest Vladimir Putin's special military operation during its early days, authorities have now effectively stopped any larger movement from taking hold, dismantling opposition groups and banning many media organizations not in line with the Kremlin's policies.

Yelena Osipova says she understands people's fears. "They are afraid of losing their jobs," she says, "being expelled from college, and there have been such incidents, even if they see a photo on the Internet showing someone holding a Ukrainian flag. That is already grounds for sacking."

But Yelena Osipova isn't scared, she says. If the authorities keep taking her protest art, she'll paint more, and even a battalion of riot police won't silence her creative mind.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, St. Petersburg, Russia.


COREN: What a courageous woman.

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