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Intense Russian Shelling in Southern City of Mykolaiv; Al-Sadr Calls Green Zone Protests "Golden Opportunity"; Thousands in Sudan Call for End to Military Rule; Wild Fires Scorch Portugal and Italy; Biden Still Testing Positive after Rebound COVID Case; San Francisco Under Public Health Emergency as Cases Rise; England Wins Women's Euro 2022. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 01, 2022 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Alison Kosik. Ahead on CNN Newsroom, Ukrainians suffer heavy Russian bombardment. The mayor of one key city says they counted 36 rockets in the night.
In Sudan, 1000s of protesters take to the streets, calling for their military rulers to be prosecuted following a CNN investigation. And fires blaze across parts of Portugal and Italy as Europe summer of extreme heat intensifies.
We begin in Ukraine where Russian forces unleashed a barrage of shelling on the southern city of Mykolaiv on Sunday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, condemning the attack in his nightly address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Ukrainians within these 24 hours, Mykolaiv in the region experienced the most brutal shelling during the entire period of the full scale war. Dozens of missiles and rockets, the occupiers hit residential buildings, schools, social infrastructure and industrial facilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Two deaths have been confirmed in the wake of Sunday's attack, a Ukrainian business mogul and his wife killed while sheltering in their basement. The damage seen across the city was immense. Mykolaiv's Mayor telling our Nic Robertson it was one of the worst attacks he's seen since the war began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLEKSANDR SENKEVYCH, MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE MAYOR: Together, we counted about 36 shots for sure. This is the biggest demand of rockets that they launched bombarded. The main aim of this is to ruin buildings and places rather huge.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: So why do you think that they've ratcheted up the number of strikes?
SENKEVYCH: First of all, they don't have any success on ground operations and they want to, you know, to hit people. Moreover, the new tactics for the strike is that they are using pro-Russian telegram channels where they right, like, we know that some armored people, vehicles in emails are stored in different places.
ROBERTSON: Are there saboteurs working in the city trying to help the Russians?
SENKEVYCH: For sure. I'm sure that they have spies who go in around the city and they say, like I saw the number of machines or the people, military people, with people, there, there. They send this information and Russian attack us.
ROBERTSON: And do you think those saboteurs might have helped in the attacks last night?
SENKEVYCH: I'm sure they helped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Meanwhile, this was the scene in the Odessa Region after a Russian missile strike set off a grass fire. According to local officials, Russian forces fired at least two missiles from occupied Crimea. So far, there's no word on any casualties. Russian missile strikes were also reported in Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv. Officials there say the attack destroyed a printing house that makes schoolbooks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLEH PAVLIUK, PRINTING HOUSE WORKER (through translator): At 4:05 in the morning, two Russian rockets hit the facility. Basically half of the production facilities that produced schoolbooks until the last moment are destroyed. The printing house is rendered out of service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Part of the four-storey building that houses the printing shop collapsed during the attack. The windows of a nearby office building were blown out as well. One employee says it's a vivid example of what Russian Liberation actually means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR LADYKA, PRINTING HOUSE WORKER (through translator): We printed mostly children's needs, photos, journals, encyclopedias books. You can see here on the second floor when our Russian brothers, liberators did today. The third floor is destroyed. The fourth floor doesn't exist anymore. We were liberated and the children were liberated from accessing information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: The U.S. and U.K. are demanding Russia be held accountable for Thursday's attack on a detention facility in Russian occupied Ukraine. The British ambassador to Kyiv says the strike on a prison is part of a pattern of human rights abuses and possible war crimes. Kyiv accuses Russia of killing dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians in the attack and has opened an investigation. Moscow claims Kyiv is responsible.
Russian backed separatists say the death toll has risen to 53 with more than 70 others wounded, remains difficult to verify those figures as the International Red Cross says it has not yet been granted access to the site.
For more on potential war crimes in Ukraine, I want to bring in Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations. He joins me now from Washington, D.C. Thanks so much for your time.
KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Alison, great to be with you. Thank you.
KOSIK: So U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, tweeted that the attack on the detention facility is unconscionable. That's her word and that Moscow's horrific aggression must be held to account. I'm curious what you think the international community should do?
VOLKER: Well, let's start with the facts here. The Russians took these fighters from Azov, the Azovs Steel mill in Mariupol, and they imprison them, they tortured them, they brutalize them, then they put them in this prison, and then they blew up the prison. This is an unconscionable war crime. And our ambassador there, Bridget Brink is absolutely right, to call it out for that.
Second there -- so what does the international community do now? I think there are two things. I think first off, we need to be doing everything we can to collect evidence. And by evidence, I mean, signals intelligence communications, who knew what was going to happen when did they know it? Who gave them the orders to do what they did? Because we need to trace this back to the top, there's no doubt that this is Putin's regime that commanded this, but we have to trace that. And then the second thing is to make sure that we defeat Putin in the war, because as long as Putin survives, as long as Russia survives and takes Ukrainian territory, then there will be no accountability for Russia at the end of the war. In order for there to be accountability, Russia actually needs to be defeated.
KOSIK: Walk us through what the significance would be or what the ramifications would be if, you know, Vladimir Putin were found guilty of war crimes or the proof was presented or, you know, Russia was found to be a state sponsor of terrorism. How could that designation change things? Because Russia just doesn't seem to care. I mean, give you an example, western attempts to sanction the Russian economy, they appear to have really no deterrent effect on the Kremlin's Ukraine war chest?
VOLKER: Right. So you you've raised many things in this question. Let me take them by pieces. The first one is that you are right, that the sanctions have not affected the Kremlin's decision making. That doesn't mean that they have not affected Russia. The Kremlin doesn't care about the state of the Russian people or the state of the Russian economy. They care about power and the exercise of power. But the sanctions actually are doing a good job in making the rest of Russia realize that what Putin is doing is destroying his own country. So this is very important. And that's actually going on the right track. And we have to keep going in that same direction.
The next thing in your question is that the international community needs to hold Putin accountable for war crimes, because of what he has done. And we need to accumulate the evidence, we need to create the legal mechanisms. We need to be ready to go whenever we have an opportunity to say this is a violation of bigger principles. But we won't ever get the chance to actually do that. As long as Putin and the Russian regime that he has created will remain in control. And so it's important that their war in Ukraine fail.
KOSIK: We are six months into this war, what do you think it's going to take to end this war, essentially getting Vladimir Putin to pull back? I mean, how does that happen?
VOLKER: Well, Putin and his people, you know, Lavrov, the Foreign Minister, Zakharova, the Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Peskov, the Kremlin Spokesperson, all of these people are repeating the same lies that Ukraine has to be eliminated. There has to be a denazification, demilitarization of Ukraine, eliminate Ukraine is a state. So that means that in the war effort, they will not stop, they will keep pressuring their own military to fight, fight, fight in order to try to destroy Ukraine. What we see, however, is that Russia does not have the military means to do this. And Ukrainians are actually fighting back successfully, they're defending their territory, they are making counter offenses to push the Russians back.
The Russians are not going to give up so there's no negotiated solution with Russia. Ukrainians will not accept that Russia is allowed to keep some Ukrainian territory. So they will not negotiate either. So we are in a war phase right now. And it is in America's interest, Europe's interest, Ukraine's interest to make sure that Russia loses the war. Then we can talk about negotiations to create peace. And I think a stable peace will be based on Russia, realizing and recognizing that it must live within its own territory.
KOSIK: All right, Kurt Volker, thanks so much for joining us.
VOLKER: Thank you so much for having me.
KOSIK: The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain is expected to leave the Odessa Region in the hours ahead. According to the captain, they're hoping to reach Istanbul by Tuesday or Wednesday resuming exports could be a crucial first step in easing the Global Food Crisis sparked by the war, which has trapped millions of tons of grain inside Ukraine for months.
In July, Turkey helped broker a deal between Ukraine and Russia to allow 5 million tons of grain exports per month from Ukrainian ports. The ships will be able to navigate a safe corridor in the Black Sea before passing through Turkey and reaching global markets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says, his country's Navy is ready to respond with lightning speed if anyone tries to encroach on its sovereignty. His comments coming in his speech marking rushes in navy day on Sunday. He did not mentioned the ongoing war in Ukraine specifically but Mr. Putin did tout the country's Zircon hypersonic cruise missile set for delivery soon. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has more from Moscow.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As usual, there was a massive parade of ships on Russia's naval day. And one of the things that was very important was that Vladimir Putin signed into force Russia's new naval doctrine and that naval doctrine lists as the main threat to Russia on the high seas with the Russians call the U.S. quest for domination of the world's oceans.
Now, Vladimir Putin, in his speech in St. Petersburg also laid out what the Russians plan to do about that. He said that these times call for decisive action on Russia's part. The Russians said that they're going to do is they are going to arm a ships with what they call the Zircon hypersonic missile. The Russians say they successfully tested that missile in May of this year. And they say that they want to now deploy it as fast as possible. The Russians believe that as far as hypersonic technology is concerned, and that's one of the fields where they have an edge over the U.S. and other adversaries. The President of the Russian Federation said the first ship that's going to get these hypersonic missiles is going to be the Admiral Gorshkov frigate. That's one of the most modern ships in Russia's naval arsenal, and allegedly also has stealth technology.
Now, one of the things that Vladimir Putin talked less about was the conflict in Ukraine. Of course, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Russian Navy, of course, plays a big role in that invasion, for instance, launching cruise missiles and other missiles at targets in Ukraine, but there have also been losses on the part of the Russian Navy, namely the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the cruiser Moskva, which was sunk, and then also the Battle of Snake Island, for instance, but there was also a Russian landing craft that was hit by a Ukrainian missile while in the Port of Berdiansk. Nevertheless, Vladimir Putin underlying what he said was the strength of the Russian Navy and said, anybody who tries to infringe on Russia sovereignty will be dealt with in lightning speed. Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.
KOSIK: Still to come, Iraq is at a tipping point and the U.S., Iran and others watch closely as protesters keep storming the parliament, a live report from the region, next.
Plus, two massive grain silos collapse in Beirut and there are fears more may soon fall, ahead what may have triggered it all.
KOSIK: In Iraq, powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr says Baghdad protests are a golden opportunity for those looking to change the country's political system. Thousands of people stormed the capital's Green Zone twice in the past week. Anger that one of al-Sadr's rivals was nominated as prime minister. The cleric supporters are holding it sit in at the parliament to derail efforts from other groups to form the country's next government. CNN's Nada Bashir is tracking developments from Istanbul for us. NADA, good to see you. Are you able to kind of tell us what the tone is among those taking part in the protests who are taking part in the sit in?
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, as you mentioned that, Alison, Muqtada al-Sadr, whose supporters have been the main driving force behind these demonstrations issued that statement yesterday, describing this as a golden opportunity not only to protest against the nomination of his rival, Mohammad Shia al-Sudani, but also for a complete political overhaul for it to call for reforms to rid the government of what he claimed as corruption and injustice within the political system.
And following that statement, yesterday evening, we saw 1000s once again, marching towards parliament, breaching the Greens and storming the parliament building that sit in taking place over the weekend. And we are expecting to see further protests today. And the question really is, whether these will escalate, whether they will continue to gain momentum.
Now, these protests did begin on Wednesday in response to the nomination of al-Sadr's rival leader Mohammad Shia al-Sudani, but they have beyond this extended towards focusing on issues including corruption and injustice within government, but also around the current situation in Iraq. The country is facing a severe economic crisis, rising prices, higher unemployment rates, poor public services. And of course, we have seen months and months of political deadlock of stagnation within the political system. It's important to note that al-Sadr's government actually -- al-Sadr's party actually came out on top in October elections, or they're falling short of that absolute majority. And in turn, they have faced repeated roadblocks in their attempts to form a government and that triggered the mass resignation of southern among the 70 of his lawmakers back in June, in protest against what they believe are these roadblocks causing the stagnation in the political system. But there is a real sense of frustration amongst the Iraqi people. And actually, our team on the ground in Baghdad, actually, were able to speak to some of these demonstrators yesterday who really expressed their frustration with the system. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADEL ANTHEM, PROTESTER FROM KARBALA (through translator): Our demands are simple, ending corruption from its roots, ending class differences created by people who came from abroad. Some people were given so much, while 80 to 85% of the people went we're almost buried. We will not retreat until we end corruption. We will not retreat until we achieve our demands. Our demands are simple. And these people who are here support reform and religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: Now, al-Sadr's movement is now calling for parliament to be dissolved for early elections to be held. They think that we opponents, the current system in places presiding over a system of corruption and injustice. The question now with whether these protests will escalate, whether we will seek counter protests and of course whether those calls we've heard for dialogue for resolution will be successful.
KOSIK: OK, Nada Bashir, thanks very much.
Abbas Kadhim is the Director at the Atlantic Council's Iraq Initiative, and he joins us from Washington, D.C. Thanks for being with us.
ABBAS KADHIM, DIRECTOR & SENIOR FELLOW, IRAQ INITIATIVE FOR ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Thank you.
KOSIK: So Iraq now has gone, what, more than nine months without a new government, tensions are running high among different political factions. I want to hear what you think about what your biggest concerns are about the political dysfunction that's currently happening in Iraq?
KADHIM: Well, thank you for having me. There is always a concern when there is no government in place, all of Iraqi crises, including the worst and post 2003, the invasion of ISIS that took about 1/3 of Iraqi territory happened in a time of government formation in June 2014. So it is always -- when there is government formation, the energy of the politicians and the political class and the mood of the country, the priorities all are put in the contest to form a government and many posts remain unguarded. So we hope that we will see a government soon this time, the dispute took probably a harder line with the withdrawal of the largest winning block in the October elections.
So when they withdrew their 73 seats, about 1/5 of the -- just over 1/5 of the entire seat numbers in the Iraqi parliament. They also command a very energetic, very vibrant political base or popular bass, I should say, on the street and what we see right now. So it is a -- right now, it's a very difficult challenge. It might prove to be existential challenge if the -- these crowds take a different turn, not just remain the way they are right now.
KOSIK: Do you think part of the political dysfunction is because many don't want to a strong man in power after suffering under the authoritarianism of Saddam Hussein? Same with Nouri al-Maliki, who was Prime Minister until 2014? Do you think there is an attempt here by all sides to keep the central government weak? KADHIM: You're absolutely right. I think what happened is because of the injurious past in post 2000 and pre 2003, Iraqi politicians didn't want to risk having another strong dictator or strong central government, and they elected for a parliamentary system and without even anticipating that this system doesn't work for Iraq, given the last -- the lack of trust among Iraqis. Iraqis have a very hard history, difficult history and many ethno sectarian fourth lines. And that trust needs to be built.
So now, we don't have anybody who is able alone to form a government and govern Iraq. Also, there are many forces in Iraq, whether it is the Kurds and Kurdistan, they do not want a strong central government that could truncate the current, almost absolute autonomy they have. There are also parties and groups who are influential in Iraq, and they do not want somebody to force them to go in a direction. They don't want to also some regional countries. I'm thinking of Iran, Saudi Arabia. And basically they don't what an Iraq that is strong, that is on its feet. They want an Iraq that is strong enough to hold its own ground but not strong enough to stand to their encroachment onto their advances and the region itself is a difficult region.
So there is the external meddling. And I think we, in the United States, who are the -- those who brought the change in Iraq dictated the terms also did not do a good job at building a good political system for Iraq. We dropped the ball and many turns on the road.
KOSIK: All right, Abbas Kadhim, thanks so much for being here
In Beirut, Lebanon, two massive grain silos collapsed and others are expected to fall according to Lebanese media reports. Watch this.
So far, no reports of injuries to people in the surrounding areas. The silos which withstood a massive chemical explosion and 2020 have been burning for weeks prompting fears they would eventually fall. Some officials say soaring temperatures in Beirut ignited fermenting grains inside the silos. Thursday marks the two year anniversary of when the explosion rocked the port killing more than 200 people.
Cuba's capital Havana is facing daily power blackouts amid a worsening energy crisis. Beginning this week electricity will be periodically cut for four hours during the late morning and early afternoon. That's according to the local Communist Party Daily. The blackouts will take place every three days. Authorities have also canceled Havana's citywide Carnival celebrations, which usually take place throughout August. Instead, there will be smaller celebrations held at the end of the month.
Still to come, how a CNN exclusive report has triggered 1000s of protesters in Sudan to call for an end to military rule in the African nation.
Plus, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation will begin their Indo-Pacific tour in Singapore. But there's still no word on a stop in Taiwan, a live report straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KOSIK: Welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik. You're watching CNN Newsroom. In Sudan, 1000s of demonstrators took to the streets in Khartoum, calling for a return to civilian rule and prosecution of Sudan's military rulers for corruption. Their demands follow a month long CNN investigation into Russia's plunder of Sudan's gold, sparking widespread outrage.
On Sunday, protesters attempted to head to Sudan's presidential offices, but were met by police who responded with tear gas, but some protesters say they won't back down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GHAZY ALRAYAH, ACTIVIST (through translator): It is very clear that protests are met with repression, which makes us more persistent to end the coup and to have our civilian state. God willing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: In our exclusive report, CNN revealed how Moscow stopped democratic change in Sudan, just as its people had successfully toppled one of the longest standing African dictators through peaceful street protests. Why? Sudan is one of the world's biggest exporters of gold, and Russia has been illegally exploiting and smuggling this resource from Sudan for years.
CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team traveled to the north of Sudan to show how Russia manipulates the Sudanese military government and how it's using front companies to get around U.S. sanctions to hold on to the gold.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep in Sudan's Gold Country, miners toil in the searing heat, barely surviving in what should be one of Africa's richest countries, providing gold for a war a continent away.
We investigate a force more powerful than Sudan's government controlling its gold subverting Sudan's destiny, threatening me and our sources and thwarting democracy to evade sanctions in Russia's war on Ukraine.
ELBAGIR: "Russian manager is on his way," they say.
ELBAGIR (voice over): We uncover the extent of Russia's grip on Sudan.
For millennia, Sudan has produced some of the most sought-after gold in the world. And Putin's private army, the notorious paramilitary group Wagner, knows it.
ELBAGIR: Sudan's government is denying Wagner's existence in country but we're not buying it and we've come to investigate.
ELBAGIR(voice-over): Wagner's tentacles stretch right across Africa. We've discovered some of its most notorious operatives are working on Sudan. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner. Mikhail Potepkin, Prigozhin's head of Sudan ops and Alexander Sergeyevich Kuznetsov, Wagner's key enforcer previously convicted of kidnap and robbery, working with this man, Sudanese General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemetti in a quid pro quo for training and weaponry.
We travel 200 miles north from the capital Khartoum to gold country to take a closer look at Wagner's main moneymaker, artisanal gold.
Miners bring rocks they extract here to be processed. 85 percent of Sudan's gold is produced artisanal.
ELBAGIR: This right here, it may not look like much. This is what's left after the rocks that the miners have brought in is milled. Now they've taken what they can out of it. But this gets sold. And what is properly processed with someone who has superior technology, you can make 10 times what those miners over there are making.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Ten times more money without any of the back breaking work. And the only foreign processing plant operational in Sudan is Wagner's Meroe Gold, despite a Sudanese law limiting ownership to locals.
Also troubling, Meroe Gold was sanctioned two years ago by the United States for exploiting Sudan's natural resources and spreading their malign influence around the globe.
According to the Sudanese government, they officially ceased operations but they are still here, still evading sanctions. We verified their location with coordinates provided by Sudanese anti- corruption investigators and head there to see for ourselves.
As we approach, the red flag of the former Soviet Union blows in the wind. Increasingly used by Russian nationalists, it brazenly marks the Meroe Gold compound. A Russian tanker sits next to it.
We get to the entrance and decide to ask a few questions but not before we turn on our covert cameras.
ELBAGIR: Is this the Russian company?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Yes,
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Well, that's convenient. They've just confirmed the Russians are at this location.
ELBAGIR: We are journalists from CNN. I'd like to see the Russian manager. We'd like to ask him some questions.
There's a black pickup approaching.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): He's coming in that car.
ELBAGIR: OK. Guys just confirmed that the Russian manager is in that black pickup and is on his way to us.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): A Russian van races to the office but no one seems to be coming over.
ELBAGIR: It seems the Russian manager has changed his mind.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): But others turn up instead.
ELBAGIR: I'm sure you've already been shown our permission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): But we are a Sudanese company. It's a company called Al Solag.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): They claim this plant is Sudanese-owned and is called Al Solag. Remember that name? It's important, Al Solag.
We head off the property to do some more filming but we're followed.
Security approaches. They want us to stop.
ELBAGIR: This is public ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.
ELBAGIR: This is public ground.
Why is your barn stopping here?
Trying to get us to move on. They're taking pictures of us, of our license plates.
ELBAGIR(voice-over): The reason they're so nervous, Al Solag is a front for the Russian company Meroe Gold. Wagner is still operating illegally, a foreign company pretending to be Sudanese to evade U.S. sanctions.
We obtained their registration documents to prove it. The document on the left is from Meroe Gold, the one on the right Al Solag. These dates represent complaints made in employment courts against Meroe Gold. These ones from Al Solag are the same.
Under Sudanese law, when a company's holdings are transferred, so are any judgments against it. Here, you can see the judgments against both companies are identical.
All they've done is changed the name, Wagner hiding in plain sight to avoid U.S. sanctions and keep the financial pipeline flowing back to Moscow and its war on Ukraine. A dangerous business to delve into.
ELBAGIR: Since we've arrived in country, I've been informed by sources of threats that they believe to be credible against me. They say that's what happens here. When you look too closely at Russia's business dealings, we have to meet one of those sources and he's asked that I come along. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Meroe Gold is a front for the Russians, specifically for the forces of Wagner that are working to exploit gold in Sudan and its export. It's a front, it's not a company. It extracts gold from tailings and it buys gold from the Sudanese artisanal miners.
That's not legal, because the law says that any gold producer is supposed to report the quantity it produces to the central bank and to the ministry of mining and that does not happen.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Inside Sudan central bank, a whistleblower snapped this photo of a computer screen, showing official production in 2021 at 49.7 tons, 32.7 tons are unaccounted for by the central bank.
But the real figure we're told by whistleblowers could be over 220 tons. That's around $13.4 billion worth of gold a year that's being stolen from Sudan. How has this happened?
Two years ago, the Sudanese people successfully overthrew Africa's second longest ruling dictator, Omar al-Bashir. 18 months later, the military staged its own coup, sweeping aside civilian rule. And they did this, we're told, with Wagner's support in exchange for gold.
This man had a front row seat to Russia's machinations and has evidence to prove it stood to gain by supporting the Sudanese military's coup. Under threat of assassination, he's been in hiding for the last nine months moving from safe house to safe house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians have Sudanese officers saw the civilians in the government as an obstacle to the plan. The official anti-corruption Task Force wasn't caving to pressure or threats or even bribery.
The Armed Forces were found to be complicit in the smuggling of gold by the Russians and it was raised with them.
ELBAGIR: Do you blame Russia for the death of democracy here in Sudan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. Russia carries the majority of the blame for the still-birthing of Sudan's democracy.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Just days later, his nephew was killed by state actors trying to stop a pro-democracy demonstration.
In the two weeks we've been in Sudan investigating Russia's illegal gold mining, 10 people were killed, protesting for change.
It's not just on the battlefields of Ukraine that Russia is spilling blood. Here too, there is a human cost. The cost of Russia's support of Sudan's generals in return for its gold.
Nima Elbagir, CNN -- Khartoum, Sudan.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KOSIK: CNN has reached out to the Russian foreign ministry, the Russian defense ministry and the parent organization for the group of companies run by Prigozhin for comment and received no response.
We also reached out to the offices of Sudanese military rulers and received no response to our request for comment.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a team of Democratic representatives will begin their trip to Asia in Singapore, but there's no mention of a potential stop in Taiwan yet. Over the course of two days, the delegation will meet with Singapore's president and prime minister along with cabinet members and business leaders.
CNN's Blake Essig joins us live from Tokyo with the latest.
So Blake, what is the likelihood that Pelosi will visit Taiwan but we won't hear about it until she leaves?
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison, I think that's it. I think that whether or not she visits Taiwan, nobody going to know about it until it happens or it doesn't happen.
What we do know right now is that the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has kicked off her tour of Asia. Singapore is the first of four planned stops according to a statement released by her office. That also includes Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
Now, despite recent speculation that the speaker would be making a fifth stop in Taiwan, the statement made no mention of the self governed island.
ESSIG: That of course, doesn't mean that the rumored visit won't take place. In fact Admiral Mike Mullen, who visited Taiwan earlier this year with a delegation of former officials says that he thinks a surprise visit to Taiwan is in fact possible. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. MIKE MULLEN, FORMER JOINTS CHIEF CHAIRMAN: She's been there many, many times in that area of the world. She feels strongly about supporting the kinds of values that we stand for and working with our friends.
So again -- and Taiwan has been a friend for a long time and particularly in a bipartisan way. So it wouldn't surprise me if she went.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ESSIG: It's worth noting that the omission of Taiwan from the speaker's agenda falls in line with what we've seen before from other U.S. officials on visits to this part of the world.
Experts also point out that it's not exactly unusual that typically listing Taiwan on the itinerary or not listing Taiwan on the itinerary is consistent with the U.S. one China policy, which acknowledges Beijing's position that Taiwan is in fact a part of Taiwan (SIC).
Taiwan's premier was asked about a potential Pelosi visit earlier today. And as you might expect, he didn't exactly answer the question saying that Taipei warmly welcomes any foreign VIP friends to visit Taiwan and that the government will make appropriate arrangements to facilitate any visits by foreign guests.
Whether Pelosi visits Taiwan are not, tensions over the Taiwan straight have intensified with the simple prospect of her visiting absolutely enraging China. As a result, Beijing has vowed to respond, and some Chinese analysts, Alison, have suggested that that response could involve the military.
KOSIK: All right. Blake Essig, thanks so much for all of your reporting.
Just ahead, fires scorched Portugal and Italy as wind, drought and a heat wave add to the problems.
Plus nearly two weeks in the White House, an update on U.S. President Biden as he battles his rebound COVID case.
KOSIK: You're looking at a fire burning on the west coast of Portugal on Sunday. Authorities were forced to block several roads and evacuate a care home. Witnesses said the smoke was visible from Lisbon about 40 kilometers away. More than 1,000 firefighters are currently mobilized across Portugal.
Meantime, in Italy, firefighters continue battling blazes across the country. Italy is in the middle of its worst drought in 70 years.
For more on this story, let's get to Pedram Javaheri, he is at the weather center for us. Pedram, what are you learning?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison, you know, it's been very hot, of course, for so many weeks. The drought situation continues to worsen across this region. There's a little bit of good news here at least in the southern tier of Europe, where it has been so hot and dry for a long period, but maybe a break here potentially in the coming several days.
JAVAHERI: But notice, of course, the dry landscape, the excessive temperatures, not just one or two degrees above average, but 5 to 7 degrees above average across an extensive area of south central Spain.
Those afternoon high temperatures on Sunday were -- they climbed up into the 40s. And what's incredible is just a few hundred kilometers towards the east of this region, it was raining quite heavy at times. Upwards of almost 90 millimeters of rainfall. Can you imagine if this was displaced over back toward the south and west? That would have been really beneficial in this region. Because statistically 15 millimeters of rainfall is what it takes to stop the spread of fires, and you kind of up that to about 50 millimeters, and you can actually extinguish some fires with that amount of rainfall. So there was enough rain just to the east, but unfortunately, not exactly where you need it.
Now, when it comes to Portugal, north and east of Portugal, we do have a high level of concern here for excessive heat with temps that touch 40 degrees yet again. Again that's locked in here in the south and west. But up towards the north, conditions have cooled off for now, but things are going to change.
When it comes to Lisbon, here we go, down to the upper twenties, possibly the mid twenties in the month of July. Out of 31 days, 23 of these days were above average in Lisbon. Looks like we're finally going to tap into a couple of those days sometime early next week.
But notice where that heat moves on from. From the southwest eventually off towards the north and east. So our friends across areas of Germany, areas of France into the Benelux region could tap into quite a bit of heat here for at least a day or two. And Berlin, case in point here, climbs to 34, up to 36 degrees. Looks like it'll be generally short lived. By this weekend, we do come right back down again with a few storms.
Today (INAUDIBLE) off towards the north. In London, only at 26 degrees while down towards Madrid touching 40 or so, and in Milan highs there around 36.
Alison, the broad picture here, the colors you want to look for, the purples, the oranges, the reds, if you see a lot of those, that means this area is in a fire risk and fire danger. Of course, higher relations and back towards the north and west, the low spots are of very low concern for fire right now.
But showing you the data here kind of input into these thermal signature of fires scattered about Europe and kind of pick your spot. Just about every region here has at least fires within their vicinity. So that's the concern in what has been a historically hot and dry summer across a large area of Europe, Alison.
KOSIK: Ok. Pedram Javaheri from the CNN Weather Center, thanks.
U.S. President Joe Biden is still testing positive after a rebound COVID case. The White House physician says the president continues to feel well as he isolates.
CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak has more details.
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House Dr. Kevin O'Connor says that's not necessarily a surprise as he weathers this rebound infection that they are attributing to the anti viral drug Paxlovid.
And you do see a small percentage of patients who take that drug have an infection after they've tested negative. But the White House still says that it's helped kept his symptoms mild.
The White House doctor says that the president is feeling well today. So medically, the president certainly seems to be doing fine. And he told the group yesterday that he'd actually gone to the White House gym before this positive test.
But perhaps more troubling for the president is this isolation period. They've had to cancel a number of events that were slated to take place out of town. The president had hoped to go to his home in Delaware this weekend. That was canceled.
He was also supposed to travel to Michigan to tout some new legislation on Tuesday. That also had to be canceled. The president had hoped to go up yesterday to support some protesters at the U.S. Capitol. They're protesting some stalled legislation. He couldn't go because of that positive test.
But he did face time them from the Truman balcony here at the White House. He does have his dog here to keep him company, but it's hard to believe that he's not going a little stir crazy. It will now have been 11 days since he's left the White House.
Kevin Liptak, CNN -- the White House.
KOSIK: In California, the mayor of San Francisco has declared a public health emergency due to rising monkeypox cases. The declaration will expedite streamline resources to deal with the outbreak.
CNN's Camilla Bernal spoke with residents about growing fears around the virus and vaccine shortages.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing very similar measures in New York City and here in San Francisco, because both of these cities are seeing a rapid increase in the number of monkeypox cases.
Now, what this public health emergency does is release funding and resources for outreach, testing, vaccinations, and for treatment. That emergency went into effect immediately in New York City when it was announced on Saturday.
BERNAL: Here in San Francisco, it goes into effect on Monday. Mayor London Breed saying they just do not have enough vaccines. She says that they need about 70,000 doses of the vaccine and so far, they've only received about 12,000.
I've heard from a number of people here in San Francisco, some who do not even want to talk about monkeypox, others who say they don't feel like it's a big deal because it is not deadly. While others say they're very worried haven't been able to find a vaccine.
Here's what they told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just -- there's a lot of people now, since COVID is done, that are traveling, and interacting with other people, and just for my own self, I just would feel more comfortable with the vaccine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just because it's, you know, moving so fast, and I'm on several different lists to get a vaccine, it's very difficult to get a vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: And I talk to regular people and political leaders who say this feels like deja vu. They say they remember the AIDS crisis here in San Francisco, and they felt alone. They felt like they did not have help from the federal government, and they're hoping that the Biden administration does whatever they can to find vaccines and get them to the people that need them and want them.
Now, political leaders here in San Francisco also saying that it's important to remember that there are people here who are hurting both physically and emotionally. They say there are some with monkeypox that cannot speak, cannot go to the bathroom, because of the pain.
And they say that emotionally, people feel marginalized, they feel the stigma, and they feel the hate. Which is why some of the political leaders here in San Francisco say they will do anything to support the LGBTQ+ community here in San Francisco as they await for more vaccines.
Camilla Bernal, CNN -- San Francisco.
KOSIK: Here's a look at how far the monkeypox outbreak has spread. Sudan reported its first case of the virus on Sunday, while the areas with the most cases are centered in the U.S. and Europe, according to data from the World Health Organization. The CDC says more than 22,000 cases have been reported in at least 79 countries so far.
Still to come, history was made in London on Sunday as England's women's team took home the Euro championship against Germany. The impact it's had on fans when we return.
KOSIK: Welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik.
England is celebrating a historic victory at the women's Euro Championship. Sunday night's game went into extra time before England won by a score of 2 to 1. It's their first major women's championship.
Amanda Davies has more on the emotional win from outside Wembley stadium.
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORT: What does football coming home feel like? It feels like this. It is passion. It is unity. It is England's women putting all those years of hurt to one side to lift that major piece of silverware.
There are so many people who have worked so hard to get to this moment. Not even, actually, for the trophy winning moment, just for the right to play on a level playing field. For 50 years, from 1921, football for women professionally, was banned here in England.
DAVIES: The last time England took on Germany in the European final in 2009, so many of the players were part time, having to take on other jobs to fund their footballing career.
But now, here we are, at Wembley, one of the most iconic stadiums in world football. They've sold it out, and not only done that. They have broken the record for attendance at a European championship, men and women.
Germany, for their part, do deserve a whole lot of credit, you really got to feel for Alex (INAUDIBLE) and her teammates. They go home distraught, but with their heads held high.
It was brilliant. Not always pretty, it was gritty, and it's England going home with the trophy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good that it finally came home after lots of like terrible like moments, but we finally, finally came home. Obviously, we are happy. Enjoyment, excitement -- everything. I love it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the first life football they see and they see England win at Wembley. I mean we'll probably be in football forever but it was amazing.
DAVIES: At England (INAUDIBLE) as Williamson put it "This is just the beginning."
The Lionesses and their fans as well, their roar is being heard loud and wild. It is now about keeping that message moving forward.
Amanda Davies, CNN -- Wembley.
KOSIK: It's also a very good day to be a Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver, came from behind to win Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix for a second straight victory. Verstappen started the race in tenth position due to issues from the qualifier, but rose the fairest busting seven-time world champion Luis Hamilton who came in second.
The next big race is the Belgian Grand Prix, set for August 28th.
Dutch cyclist Annemiek Van Vleuten (INAUDIBLE) has won the relaunched women's Tour D' France. The 39 year old finished nearly four minutes ahead of second place, earning her the prized yellow jersey. She won stages seven and eight and overcame a stomach bug and five bike changes. Wow.
The race covers more than 1000 kilometers in eastern France over eight five stages. This was the first women's Tour d' France since 1989.
And thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Alison Kosik.
CNN NEWSROOM continues next with Rosemary Church.