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At Least 103 People Killed, Rescuers Search For Survivors; Ukraine Hit By More Blackouts Due To Higher Winter Demand; Witnesses: Sexual Violence Used to Crush Protesters in Iran; Sexual Violence Used to Crush Protesters in Iran; France's Macron: Russia Spreading Disinformation in Africa; Police Identify 5 Killed in LGBTQ Nightclub Shooting; The Trouble with Twitter. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 01:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak. Ahead on CNN Newsroom, heartbreak and a race to find survivors after a deadly earthquake rocks Indonesia. We'll have a live report for you.

Plus, the World Health Organization warns of a grim winter in Ukraine amid damaged infrastructure and a lack of medical supplies. And this.


HANNAH (ph) (through translator): They choose the women who were pretty and suited their appetites. Then the officer would take one of them from the cell to a smaller private room.


HARRAK: CNN exclusive accusations of sexual violence against people who are in prison for standing up to Iran's government.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: Rescuers are combing through the debris in West Java Indonesia looking for survivors of a devastating earthquake. At least 103 people have been killed, but authorities fear that number will rise. The 6.6 magnitude quake struck Monday afternoon. It was felt strongly in the capital Jakarta about 75 kilometers away. Video from the region shows homes and buildings destroyed, piles of bricks and metal strewn on the streets. Survivors ascribed a huge tremor followed by multiple aftershocks.


CUCU: EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR (through translator): I have seven children and one of them hasn't been found. The children were downstairs and I was upstairs getting laundry. Everything collapsed beneath me and I was crushed beneath this child. One of my kids is still missing. My house is flatten. Good God, two of my kids survived. I dug them up and this one, two others I brought here and one is still missing.


HARRAK: Authorities are scrambling to set up shelters for the more than 7000 people who have been forced from their homes. At least 300 people have been injured, many being treated in makeshift tents and hospital parking lots. I spoke last hour with Ama Husein from the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center. And I asked her what relief agencies need most right now.


AMA HUSEIN, MUHAMMADIYAH DISASTER MANAGEMENT CENTER: What they need most right now because Indonesia is during the monsoon, we need a lot on TARP, tarp all the temporary shelter. Food of course is still needed and also the blanket that's from my team and also we are preparing for the like the food for the kids and then for the elderly and also the psychosocial because they are needed because the after stock is still make people from attic (ph).

HARRAK: How are hospitals coping with a number of injured coming in?

HUSEIN: These -- right now is being held with the field hospital and then many teams ambulances including my team, the Muhammadiyah has already sent the two big team, the emergency medical team to the ground. So, we are working with the district and the city health office to respond and also been backed up by the military as well through the military help team. So, there are many team. But we are still also donating the orthopedist because most of the affected people or injured people related with earthquake is the fracture. So, we are right now sending the orthopedist to the ground because we want to help as fast as possible.


HARRAK: CNN's Anna Coren is following developments live this hour from Hong Kong. Anna, are people bracing for more aftershocks?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will, Laila, certainly since that 5.6 magnitude earthquake and yesterday afternoon. There have been more than 100 aftershocks. One official said up to 160 have been felt. That is not unusual. But the actual earthquake that hit just after lunch was it wasn't a huge earthquake, it was quite shallow, only a depth of 10 kilometers hence, you know the violence that was felt on the ground and that is why we have seen this extensive damage across Cianjur. This district in West Java province. It's about 75 kilometers southeast of the capital, Jakarta where tremors were felt there.

But this area, you know, buildings are not well built in this part of Indonesia. So according to officials, you know, most of the victims if not all, were crushed by the rubble. These buildings are made of concrete and because of that violent quake and the power of that quake, they just simply collapse. Hundreds of buildings collapsed, 1000s have been damaged. The death toll as you mentioned Laila stands at just over 100 but authorities fear that that is going to rise.

Now, many of the injured they were taken straight to Cianjur Regional Hospital which itself was evacuated because of fears that it too was going to collapse. There are also power outages there. So, this makeshift hospital was set up outside once things stabilize patients returned but, you know, all these injured people with fractures and head traumas had been brought to the grounds of the hospital where this makeshift hospital outside has now been set up in the carpark.

The military is also setting up another makeshift hospital to help with the numbers that they are being seen. But you mentioned the search and rescue operations that are ongoing. You know, there are dozens of people that remain missing and the President Joko Widodo, who has arrived in Cianjur. He has told officials there that their number one priority is to try to rescue those people who may still be alive under the rubble.

You mentioned the monsoon season, that guest that you spoke to Laila talked about there being a monsoon in Indonesia at the moment that means there is so much water in the ground. So, when this earthquake hit, there were multiple landslides in this mountainous area. Let's have a listen to one resident.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If it were just an earthquake, only the houses would collapse. But it is worse because of the landslide. In this residential area, there were eight houses. All of the houses were buried and swept away.


COREN: So, you have the earthquake and the landslide causing this death and destruction. Laila.

HARRAK: Anna Coren reporting live from Hong Kong, thank you so much, Anna.

The UN's nuclear watchdog says there are no immediate safety or security concerns at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plants in Ukraine, following heavy shelling over the weekend. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency assess the damage and reported that key equipment remained intact. All six reactors are Europe's largest nuclear power station are set to be stable. And French President Emmanuel Macron said he held an urgent call on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart to discuss the situation at the nuclear plant. Mr. Macron expressed his deep concern over recent strikes and said a threat still exists. Mr. Vladimir Zelenskyy said Russia must stop the attacks.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are working to ensure the implementation of the IAEA's ordered to stop any hostile activity against Ukrainian nuclear objects. And for this, the deep militarization of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is extremely important. Russia must withdraw all its fighters from there and stop shelling the power plant.


HARRAK: Meantime Ukrainian power facilities are being forced to impose additional blackouts. President Zelenskyy says the grid has been too heavily damaged to meet the high demand for electricity.


The World Health Organization is warning that about 20% of Ukraine's population is struggling to get the medicine they need. The war's destruction has reduced the availability of medical services ranging from COVID vaccines to hospital care. The WHO says the situation will grow worse as winter sets in. And it's already dire.


HANS KLUGE, EUROPE DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: I would say that, with 50% of the civilian energy infrastructure being damaged or destroyed at the moment that there is onset of a brutal winter where temperatures can plummet down to minus 20 degrees, that this is to be considered as the largest attack on health care, on European soil since the Second World War.


HARRAK: CNN has obtained the audio recording of a Russian soldier in Ukraine calling his girlfriend and compare it to the usually optimistic Gung Ho tone Russians get from state media, the soldier is blunt and candid in his comments about the war and his commanders. Matthew Chance has a story and a warning parts of this report are graphic.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Russia's military highlights its barrage of Ukraine, CNN has obtained exclusive recordings of a Russian soldier describing the brutal reality of life on the frontlines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The commander's position was shelled, so he packed up and moved further back. But what about us? Aren't we humans too?

CHANCE: The Russian soldier was recorded phoning his girlfriend back home, according to Ukrainian intelligence, and telling her candidly about the severe military setback suffered in the two months since he arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We had 96 people in our unit, but now they're less than 50. We don't know what to expect here. Sometimes there's friendly fire and idiots shoot at us because they don't see our coordinates.

CHANCE: But it is advancing Ukrainian forces that are the major threat, compounding low morale with high bloodshed. Ukrainian officials now reacting to this extraordinary video of Russian soldiers apparently surrendering geo located by CNN to a recently liberated town in eastern Ukraine.

Coming out, one by one Ukrainian soldier calls out then a short burst of gunfire before the video cuts off. Later. The drone shows what appears to be the same men in pools of blood. The Kremlin says it's an execution. But Ukraine says the soldiers feigned surrender and fired the Ukrainians accusing Russia of its own war crime. No one disputes the horror.

It's unclear if the dead Russians were regular troops or deployed as part of the Kremlin's partial mobilization, seen here earlier this year. But the soldier recorded on the phone indicates he was recently conscripted, complaining bitterly at being unable to leave the war zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Being mobilized as crap, nobody can go home until Putin announces the order. There's no way to return. And if we weren't here, they -- the Ukrainians would already be at our borders. They would show Moscow, Yekaterinburg, show everything.

CHANCE: And that constant threat of Ukrainian attack is having a terrifying effect. In particular drone strikes, which appear to have left the soldier particularly nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My nerves are on edge. I'm afraid of every rustle, every bang, every click makes me dropped to the ground.

CHANCE: In Russian controlled eastern Ukraine, the funerals underway for more of those killed on the brutal front line, that's Ukrainian officials insist would never have happened. But for Russia's war, Matthew Chance CNN, Kyiv.


HARRAK: CNN's Richard Quest recently had an exclusive interview with former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and among other things, he asked about the war in Ukraine. Take a listen.


BORIS JOHNSON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We need to supply them with better artillery. But we also and frankly should be giving them not just helicopter but fixed wing aircraft that can go fast enough to take out the drones and you don't need very sophisticated planes to do it. Or the Ukrainians came to see me about it. You could do it with Spitfires. We don't make Spitfires anymore. But you just need a plane that can go a few 100 miles an hour.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: If you can't get even that element of escalation what on earth is going to happen in the depths of winter weather, I mean, assuming it's -- if it's a cold winter in Europe, where citizens are facing recession, and they say, why are we doing this? You know, we support Ukraine. But enough is enough. How do you keep populations in Europe onside?

JOHNSON: Well, you, you come to very, very influential audiences in places like Lisbon. And you and you try to get your message across. Because I agree with you, it's going to be a tough one. But I happen to think that the Ukrainian resolve is being strengthened by the attack on their infrastructure. I mean, remember what happened to London in The Blitz, it didn't lead to a collapse in morale on the country. Morale was stiffened by the by the aerial bombardment.


HARRAK: Well, to see the rest of Richard's exclusive interview with Boris Johnson watch Quest Means Business that's all part of a special event to mark CNN's Portugal's one year anniversary. We will bring it to you at 8 p.m. in London, 9 p.m. in Paris.

Now, in just a few hours, some of football's most decorated teams will take the field on the third day of the World Cup. Among them the reigning champions France who will begin their title defense against a hungry Australian group. But first, Argentina will kick things off with a contest against Saudi Arabia. And that match could be the start of Lionel Messi's final World Cup run. The legendary Argentine has never won the title, but he's hoping this year will be special.


LIONEL MESSI, ARGENTINA CAPTAIN (through translator): I feel very good physically took care of myself and worked as I have done all my career, knowing that this is a special moment, as this is probably my last World Cup.


HARRAK: Well, those matches will follow a dramatic second day of action on Monday, England produced a dominant win over Iran. The U.S. and Wales finished with a draw. And the Netherlands defeated the African Champions Senegal. The match between England and Iran was arguably the most memorable because of the eight goals that were scored. But because of the powerful moments that happened before the game. CNN's Don Riddell, and Darren Lewis report.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: An extraordinary game here at the Khalifa International Stadium and a game of so much significance both on and off the pitch. Darren Lewis, we've got a lot to debrief here. But let's start with the England performance. A huge win for them. They're off to a flyer, but also the significance of their goal scorers today because some of those guys had a lot to prove.

DARREN LEWIS, CNN SENIOR SPORTS ANALYST: Yeah, they did. Listen, you know me I wear my heart on my sleeve. So, I'm absolutely delighted beaming from ear to win over that win. But it was a fantastic performance under goal scores, a real significance about them. At the end of the last European Championship. All we talked about was the terrible abuse that Naomi Osaka, Jadon Sancho, and Marcus Rashford suffered at the hands of people who racially abused them because they've missed penalties in the final against Italy. Today, soccer scores twice. Rashford comes on the bench to score one for the first five goals scores all black. What a statement to make in their first game since that terrible day on July the 11th last year.

RIDDELL: Yeah, absolutely. And a political statement made by both teams before the game, of course, the England players had wanted to wear the rainbow one level armbands, FIFA wouldn't let them do that. But they did take a knee on the field, a gesture of inclusivity and we cannot understate the significance of that happening in Qatar, a country where civil and human rights are so often denied.

LEWIS: Absolutely right. Gareth Southgate asked about it in pretty much press conference and he said, Look, we want to make this gesture on the biggest stages to show everybody where we stand. And this is the biggest of them all. It said a lot about FIFA that in the build up to this match. They had promised a message of tolerance and openness and they said that everyone is free to do what they wanted to. And then in the hours before this match, they confirmed that the England players would not be allowed to wear their one love armband. And it follows that pattern of changing the rules at the last moment banning the beer last week, now banning the armband. Can you trust FIFA? Well, they've shown that they cannot be trusted.

RIDDELL: And we should just briefly mentioned the Iranian players before the game not singing the national anthem. That was interpreted by many of the fans here as an expression of support and solidarity with the protesters and the demonstrators who have been so brave and courageous over the last few months in Iran, standing up against a regime that has made people's lives so miserable. They're interesting. The fans before the game.


A lot of them didn't want to speak to us. They were concerned that regime kind of spotters were in the crowd, basically, keeping an eye on them. So that was absolutely fascinating. And although Iran were well beaten in this game, I think for a lot of the fans, that moment was a win. Darren, it's been a great conversation, looking forward to seeing much more of you throughout the tournament, but we'll leave it there. Back to you.

HARRAK: Amnesty International is condemning FIFA's last-minute decision to ban one love armbands at the World Cup. The bans are part of an anti-discrimination campaign and feature a multicolor heart that's meant to represent all backgrounds, genders, and sexual identities. European team captains issued a statement on Monday saying FIFA made it clear that players would get yellow cards for wearing the armbands. Earlier CNN's sports Analyst Christine Brennan told me the teams should have called FIFA's bluff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: One wonders what if those seven nations had basically told FIFA go jump in the lake? We're wearing them. Would they really have issued yellow cards to all those team captains? I -- it's hard to imagine the fallout from that. If you are literally doing that you're -- you are as an organization as the International Federation running the sport, you are actually tainting your own event, basically, it's just beginning. And so, I would have loved to see England and Wales and Germany and the others call the bluff of FIFA. And say right now FIFA, you're just acting as a mouthpiece for Qatar. And you know what, this is wrong. And we know what's right. And we're going to continue to do what we want to do. I would have loved to have seen that. My guess is that FIFA would have backed down. And it's a shame that those nations didn't really take a page from the Iranians and have the guts and the courage to stand up for what's right.


HARRAK: Qatar dismissed the uproar as a matter between FIFA and international teams and insisted everybody's welcome, regardless of orientation.

Still to come, new allegations of sexual violence are emerging against Iranian security forces. Well, here's some heartbreaking stories in an exclusive report, next.


HARRAK: In Iran, the situation continues to be volatile as the government intensifies its crackdown in the Kurdish region. A human rights group based in Norway tells CNN that at least 13 people have been killed in Kurdish cities in the past last 24 hours. This as an Internet watchdog says cellular data was down in Kurdish areas for hours. Iranian-Canadian journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari talked to CNN about Tehran's history of suppressing women. Take a listen.


MAZIAR BAHARI, JOURNALIST & FILMMAKER: Ruhollah Khomeini started his movement in 1962, because the Shah, the Shah of Iran gave women and religious minorities the right to vote. And Khomeini said that if women had the right to vote, there are going to be prostitutes. So, because of that, since 1979, when Khomeini came to power, they have been suppressing women. They have been denying women of their rights and the whole government, I can say has been sexualized and the movement against the government has been sexualized as well. Sex has become an instrument of suppression.


HARRAK: Well, since the beginning of protests over two months ago, over Mahsa Amini's death Iran's regime has unleashed a campaign of repression. Eyewitnesses tell CNN sexual violence is being used to suppress, demoralize and in some cases, blackmail protesters. CNN's Nima Elbagir has this exclusive report but we want to warn you it contains details of sexual violence. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:: Over these mountains is Iran, a regime that has succeeded in cutting many of its people off from the outside world, but disturbing stories detailing the authorities brutal retribution, systematic sexual violence against anti-regime protesters have begun leaking out.

We've come here to the Kurdish region of Iraq to try and find out more. This is Hannah (ph), not her real name, a Kurdish Iranian woman recently smuggled out of Iran. She fears for her life. After taking off and burning her headscarf on the streets, she was arrested and detained by Iranian intelligence officers.

HANNAH (ph) (through translator): They choose the women who were pretty and suited their appetites. Then the officer would take one of them from the cell to a smaller private room. They would sexually assault them there.

ELBAGIR: Hannah (ph) isn't only an eyewitness. She also was violated.

HANNAH (ph) (through translator): I feel shy talking about this. You can still see what the policeman did. Look here on my neck. It's purplish. That is why I'm covering it. He forced himself on me.

ELBAGIR: Then a fight broke out with another protester drawing away Hannah's attacker. Hannah and others can hear screams and they believe a woman was raped in an interrogation room. Hannah sketched out the police station as she remembers it. She estimates 70 to 80 men and women were together in a main hall that accessed for private interrogation rooms. It was in these interrogation rooms she says that she was assaulted and others were raped.

CNN was able to locate the police station through Hannah's description, eyewitness corroboration and geolocation using key landmarks. It's in the Eslamabad, neighborhood of Urmia. Based on this testimony and speaking to a number of sources, a pattern of repression comes into focus. Police lenses used as filtration points, moving protesters from one location to another. Often families left not knowing where their loved ones are held. One Iraq based Kurdish militant opposition party pack identified over 240 people who they believe are missing within this maze of detention centers. Human rights organizations believe the number is higher in the 1000s. Some of the victims as young as 14, many are men supporting female protesters, their punishment as severe as the women's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They brought four men over who had been beaten, screaming intensely in another cell. And one of the men who was tortured was sent to the waiting room where I was. I asked him what all that screaming was about. He said they are raping the man.

ELBAGIR: Based on witness testimony. CNN traced the location to an Iranian army intelligence headquarters. Voice here by a translator, A 17-year-old boy sent CNN a voice note following his imprisonment. We are withholding his name and location for his safety. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When a security guard heard me discussing the rape of the other inmates, he started torturing me all over again. They tortured, raped me from behind.

ELBAGIR: Even as authorities visited sexual violence on protesters, regime figures accused female protesters of prostitution of, "wanting to be naked."


The incidents of sexual violence against protesters inside Iranian detention facilities, most occurred in the Kurdish majority areas to the west of Iran, home to a historically oppressed minority.

Disturbingly in some cases, the rapes were filmed and used to blackmail protesters into silence.

There has been a real escalation where female protesters are, as you can see here, being openly assaulted often sexually. But the violence against women, like the protests are not confined to the Kurdish areas. They're often focused on locations where the protests are most intense. Like here in the capital, Tehran.

One of these stories is Armita Abbasi, a typical 20 year old on social media sharing her love of animals and music.

In social media posts appearing under her name, Abbasi, like many young women in Iraq and criticized the regime openly after the protests began. Unlike most, she did it without anonymity.

It didn't take long for security forces to find and arrest her. Abbasi disappeared. Soon after, whistleblowers began to post on various social media platforms. Medics, sharing eyewitness accounts of what had been done to Abbasi.

First of all, they say there were few plainclothesmen with her and they did not let her out of their sight. Even during a private medical examination they were there.

She was my patient, I went to her bedside. They had shaved her head. She was scared and was trembling. When she first came in, they said it was rectal bleeding due to repeated rape.

The plainclothesmen insisted that the doctor write that the rape was from prior to her arrest and then after this issue was becoming obvious to all, they changed the entire scenario altogether.

The details of these leaks were confirmed to CNN by an insider at Imam Ali Hospital where Abbasi was brought to be examined. In a statement the government said Abbasi was treated for digestive problems. The medics who treated her said that was not true. The Iranian regime denies the rape, accusing her of leading protests, an allegation which could see her face the death penalty.

At this usually busy border crossing between Iraq and Iran, it is deceptively quiet. Those who can cross, tell us the noose is tightening on protesters. Authorities have for decades used sexual torture against Iranians and it appears once more a familiar pattern. Sexual violence deployed to enforce an assertion of moral guardianship.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Iraqi (INAUDIBLE).


LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: We have reached out to the Iranian government for comments on this reporting but have not gotten a response.

For more on this, I want to bring in Karim Sadjadpour. He is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and joins us from Washington, D.C.

A very good evening Karim. CNN gathered testimony documenting these troubling cases of abuse of women and the men supporting them being raped in detention centers. The fact that this is happening, what does it tell you about the lengths that authorities are now prepared to go? And what else security forces are doing behind closed doors?

KARIM SADJADPOUR, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Well Laila, that report was extremely disturbing but unfortunately not surprising because the Islamic Republic has been practicing that kind of abuse since it came to power in 1979.

And there is this irony of on one hand, they beat a woman to death Mahsa Amini for ostensibly showing improper hijab but once they put these women in prison, they do all sorts of untoward things towards them.

And so I think that, you know, this is among one of the reasons why for so many Iranians they come to the realization that this is a system which is not capable of changing its ways. It's not capable of reforming and that is why we've seen two months of continued protests in Iran now.

HARRAK: So does this mean there are no red lines for the authorities right now?

SADJADPOUR: You know basically this is a system with no legitimacy left and it only rules by force and by intimidating and suppressing its people into submission.


SADJADPOUR: And that kind of government can last as long as people feel fearful. But once people have lost that fear, it's much more difficult for them to sustain their staying power.

And what we are seeing now in Iran is a population which feels that they are at wits end. So the future is unpredictable.

We do not know how this is going to play out. But I think that when you watch the videos of the protests, it doesn't appear that it's going to be done anytime soon.

HARRAK: The Kurdish area is particularly feeling the wrath of the regime's oppression which we understand is subject to a bloody repression by security forces. Why?

SADJADPOUR: You know, since the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic has been disproportionately brutal towards Iran's Kurdish population. They've killed as many as 10,000 Kurds in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, and they've long accused the Iranian Kurdish population of having separatists tendencies.

And so the videos we saw in the last couple of days in Iranian- Kurdistan are truly brutal. They are using combat weaponry against the civilian population, which is throwing rocks at them. And I think right now throughout Iran, what is different than in past protest is the tremendous empathy and solidarity you are seeing throughout the country for Iranian Kurdistan people in Tehran, people in the south of the country (INAUDIBLE) are paying attention. And it is clear that Kurdistan is in the thoughts of many Iranians throughout the country.

HARRAK: Karim, It feels like a wall has come down. Every aspect of Iranian society is touched. There does not seem to be a way out. I mean you already discussed -- I mean there seems to be a stalemate. Basically two immovable parties facing off. Is there any sign of dissent among the people in power that this is maybe not the right approach?

SADJADPOUR: So far, we have not seen if there are elite divisions inside the country. They're are not yet palpable. For authoritarian regimes to collapse, Laila, you do need two key ingredients. You need the pressure from below and you have that in abundance in Iran. This tremendous popular dissent, popular discontent.

But you also need divisions at the top within security forces, between the leadership of security forces, and I suspect that those conversations are perhaps happening behind closed doors but so far they haven't been visible to the public.

HARRAK: And in conclusion, just final thought from you, is this a point of no return?

SADJADPOUR: I do not think this is a system which has shown itself capable of reform. So in some ways, it is an all or nothing proposition. Either the system is going to manage to repress and stay in power or it's going to not stay in power. But I think the likelihood IN which there is modus vivendi (INAUDIBLE) the existing regime and the current population is very unlikely.

Because as I said, the demand of the population is no longer to try to reform the system. They say we've tried that for 43 years and it didn't work. And now the demands are I say for wholesale change.

HARRAK: Karim Sadjadpour, thank you so much.

SADJADPOUR: Thank you for having me. HARRAK: The French president is accusing Russia of fueling

disinformation in Africa. Emmanuel Macron's remarks came on the sidelines of a summit of French-speaking nations.

He said Russia is spreading anti-French propaganda to further its own predatory interests in the region and to hurt France.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I'm no fool. Many influencers, sometimes speaking on your programs, are paid by the Russians. I know that very well.

We know them, they keep on repeating that discourse. They have an experienced colonization themselves. They don't know what it is. But they're doing that because it's a political discourse and because a number of powers who want to spread their influence in Africa are doing this to hurt France.

Hurt its language, sow doubts and above all pursue certain interests. You only have to look at what is going on in the Central African Republic or elsewhere to see that the Russian project underway there when France is pushed aside, it is a project of predation.


HARRAK: France, of course, once colonized much of Africa and has maintained military ties in French speaking countries. But French troops were pushed out of Mali after a military coup two years ago. And Russia's Wagner mercenary group moved in.


HARRAK: The Colombian government has formally begun peace negotiations with the largest rebel group still active in the country -- The National Liberation Army or ELN.

The delegations began meeting in the Venezuelan capital on Monday, according to the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace. The plan is to hold talks for the next few weeks and try to draft a peace deal to end more than half a century of guerrilla warfare in Colombia.


PABLO BELTRAN, ELN NEGOTIATOR (through translator): We take this opportunity to say for the record that the ELN is not asking for anything. That is what is important.

Some people have said to us, how many seats do you want in congress? We do not need them.

The problem is Colombia and what needs to change in Colombia. We want to give that voice to the society and above all to the sectors that have not had a voice.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRAK: The Colombian government halted peace talks with the ELN in 2019. After the rebel group launched a deadly attack on a Bogota police academy.

Still to come, a man hailed as a hero in the Colorado nightclub shooting speaks to CNN. Describing how he went into combat mode to help save lives.



RICHARD FIERRO, TOOK DOWN GUNMAN IN CLUB Q SHOOTING: I've got to protect my kid. I lost my kid's boyfriend. I tried. I tried to help everybody in there. I still feel bad that some people -- the five people that didn't come home.

(EXPLETIVE DELETED) I told him, I will kill you. I'm going to kill you, man. He tried to kill my friends. My family was in there.


HARRAK: That is Richard Fierro, one of the men police have credited for stopping the shooter at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado. Authorities have also identified the five people killed in Saturday's rampage.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more from Colorado Springs.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police naming the five victims of the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs. Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derek Romp, Ashley Paul, Raymond Greene Vance. A shooting that also left at least 19 others injured.

The shooter was stopped by two men inside the club. Thomas James and Richard Fierro. According to the "New York Times", Fierro says he was watching a drag show when gunfire erupted. He says that his instincts as an army officer kicked in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He simply said to me, I was trying to protect my family.


FLORES: According to authorities. Fierro and James confronted, and fought with the suspect, took his hand gun and hit him with it.

ED SANDERS, SURVIVED NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING: God bless them. It could have been a lot worse if they had not stepped in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two absolute heroes. If not for them, I do not know how many other people would have been injured.

FLORES: Barrett Hudson survived the shooting and says he was shot seven times but miraculously escaped serious injury.

BARRETT HUDSON, SURVIVED NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING: I see a door shut, there's the gunman. There was a man in front of him who put his hands up a little bit, took two steps back and the dude just killed him.

FLORES: The shooting started just before midnight on Saturday night. At 11:57 p.m. someone at the bar called 9-1-1 and police started dispatching officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Active shooter, we are getting reports of 4 to 7 possibly injured. Start doing triage. Need to reach to the hospitals to see if they can handle all the patients we're sending them.

FLORES: First officer arrived on scene at 12:00 a.m. then at 12:02 a.m., the suspect was in custody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suspect has been detained.

FLORES: The suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich is in the hospital. Sources telling CNN he bought the weapons used in the attack. Now Aldrich is being held pending possible charges that include five charges of first degree murder as well as possible charges related to a biased motivated crime.

New video obtained by CNN appears to show the suspect ranting about police last year during the stand off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) got their (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rifles out. If they breach, I'm going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) blow it to holy hell.

FLORES: over a bomb threat at his mother's home. The surrender captured on camera. But local media report no formal charges were pursued and his records were sealed according to the district attorney.

This close-knit LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs now struggling to find a way forward.

SANDERS: I'm doing ok considering I lost some friends that I care about. And I do not think it's really sunk in yet.

FLORES: The suspect has not been charged according to the district attorney. He is being held on possible charges of first degree murder and hate crimes. Now he is still in the hospital and his condition is unknown.

Rosa Flores, CNN -- Colorado Springs, Colorado.


HARRAK: Chinese officials are reporting four new COVID-related deaths, bringing the total to five since Saturday. They are the first deaths reported in nearly six months as Beijing has been enforcing strict containment measures and lockdowns. Still COVID cases continue to rise across China. On Monday, Beijing

began requiring travelers to undergo testing and several days of quarantine.

The outbreaks have investors on edge, fearing more disruptions due to China's zero COVID policy. Most of the Asia-Pacific markets dipped Monday.

And here is where things stand in Tuesday's trading so far. It is a mixed picture.

In the coming hours, the White House will reveal new plans to increase COVID vaccinations in the U.S. ahead of the holidays. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the numbers are heading in the right direction.


KARINE JEAN PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have been making a strong push for Americans to get their COVID and flu shots so that they can have a safe and healthy holiday season. More than 35 million Americans have gotten their updated COVID shot. And the daily vaccination numbers continue to increase.


HARRAK: Well top diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci will join the White House's COVID response coordinator to discuss a new plan.

Public reaction to the booster has been sluggish so far with less than one in ten people getting a shot. That's according to data from nearly two weeks ago.

Still to come, more trouble for Twitter. Big names are leaving. Controversial accounts are returning. And now another holdup for those who want to pay for that the blue check mark.



HARRAK: Elon Musk says Twitter's blue verified feature is now on hold until the company can address concerns over accounts being impersonated.

The initial rollout earlier this month came with all sorts of problems when fake accounts started popping up impersonating brands and have private file figures. Well that, led to an exodus of key advertisers.

Meanwhile, some controversial names are now back on the platform. Kanye West who now goes by Ye simply tweeted "shalom" in his return on Sunday. You will recall his anti-Semitic comments last month led to his account being restricted.

And former president Donald Trump's account was reinstated over the weekend. But he has not posted anything yet. Well, the impact of Twitters mass layoffs is now being felt around the world. Hundreds quit last week after refusing Elon Musk' demand to work quote extremely hard core.

Now, Eric Zuckerman, the head of U.S. news partnerships at Twitter said he is leaving the company as well. And in Europe, Damien Viel, the head of Twitter France announced his departure from the company simply tweeting "it is over".

French regulators are expressing deep concern over the layoffs and whether the remaining staff can do enough to keep the platform afloat.

And a small team of Twitter Africa employees who lost their jobs in Ghana are fighting the company over severance terms and accusing Elon Musk of discrimination.

CNN's Larry Madowo has more on that.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could be a David versus Goliath fight, but this smally Twitter Africa team is standing up to Elon Musk. They claim they only received a severance pay offer after CNN reported on their plight And this letter claims that it was arrived at after negotiations with the employees but they tell CNN that they have never negotiated anything with Twitter. In fact they don't even have a way to contact anyone at Twitter because their emails keep bouncing back.

They've rejected that severance pay offer, hired a lawyer and sent a demand letter to Twitter asking it to comply with Ghanaian employment law. They have also to petitioned the chief labor officer in Ghana's employment ministry asking it to compel Twitter to do the right thing.

Here is a portion of their notice to the office.

"It is clear that Twitter Inc. under Mr. Elon Musk is either deliberately or recklessly (INAUDIBLE) the loss of Ghana, he's operating in bad faith and in a manner that seeks to silence and intimidate former employees. Into upsetting any terms unilaterally thrown at them without pressure from higher authorities.

They are clearly not willing to provide a fair or just package in order to minimize the hardship of this takeover. And resulting in the loss of jobs on their workforce in Africa.

Some of these employees were hired from other countries and moved into Ghana. They say they need to put the agency. They want three months severance for all the team and other relevant benefits.

And so far, CNN has contacted Twitter for comment and has not heard back. Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.


HARRAK: The deal for Penguin Random House to buy Simon and Schuster is off. Simon & Schuster, parent company Paramount will not appeal a federal court ruling blocking the proposed merger of the two publishing giants.

Penguin will have to pay Paramount a $200 million dollar termination fee according to an SEC filing. Well the proposed merger was worth more than two billion dollars.

Still to come, Europe's energy crisis can't crush the holiday spirit. How cities are adjusting their Christmas displays with an eye on energy efficiency.



HARRAK: The famed Champs Elysees in Paris is once again lit up again for the holiday season. But this year, much of Europe faces an energy crisis. And there have been a few tweaks to the twinkle. Officials saying new energy efficient lights are being used that will consume the same amount of electricity as a modest sized apartment.

The lights will also be turned off earlier in each night and will be up a week less than last year.

Meanwhile the German city of Doftmund is also looking to go energy efficient this year with its giant Christmas tree. Most of its 48,000 bulbs are LEDs and will only be lit for eight hours a day. The tree has been described as one of the largest Christmas trees in the world.

And Germany of course, is famed for its Christmas markets and celebrations. But the energy crisis is forcing people to balance how they stay festive while saving power.

All right. That wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I am Laila Harrak.

Do stay here with us. Rosemary Church picks up after the break with more news. And I will see you next time.