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U.S. & Germany Appear Ready to Send Tanks to Ukraine; Chris Hipkins Sworn in as New Zealand's Prime Minister; Classified Documents Found at Pence's Home; Kenya Reports Cases Under Control in Five Counties. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. I'm John Vause. Ahead here on CNN Newsroom, after months of deadlock, here come the tanks, both Germany and the U.S. finalizing plans to send their front line battle tanks to Ukraine.

He too, Mike Pence, those classified documents just keep turning up where they're not meant to be. And Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill find common ground in their scathing criticism of ticket master. And their desire to avenge Swift fans everywhere.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: After months of deadlock, Berlin appears ready to send its main battle tank to Ukraine. At the same time, the White House is expected to announce the shipment of about 30 M1 Abrams tanks. The news outlet to Spiegel was first to report the decision by Germany to send Leopard 2 tanks and also drop export restrictions to allow NATO allies to transfer Leopard tanks to Kyiv as well.

The tank debate is expected to begin in the German parliament in the coming hours. The news comes as the U.S. finalizes plans to send the Abrams tank to Ukraine, with an announcement expected within days. German officials had earlier indicated they would send tanks to Ukraine only after the U.S. made a similar commitment. One U.S. lawmaker who visited Ukraine last week had a message for both the United States and Germany.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: The day that Berlin signs off on Poland and other nations sending the Leopard tank, the day that the German government says, we will also send tanks is a day closer to liberating Ukraine and ending this nightmare. To the administration, the Biden administration please send the tanks. To the Germans, please send tanks. You have a history to be a leader for good.


VAUSE: CNN's Natasha Bertrand has details now and reports in from Washington.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: CNN is learning that the Biden administration is preparing to make announcement this week about sending U.S. made Abrams tanks to Ukraine. This follows a week-long diplomatic standoff with Germany over which Germany said that they would not send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine unless the U.S. first sent its Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

Now, the U.S. had said last week that it is not practical at this moment to send the Abrams tanks because they are extremely costly. They consume a lot of fuel and they did not think at the time that the Ukrainians would be able to make efficient use of them. However, we're now learning that after a week of discussions with the Germans in which the administration was trying to find ways to convince Germany to send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the Biden administration has agreed to make a preliminary commitment to send these Abrams tanks to Ukraine over the coming months.

Now, we should note we don't know exactly when these Abrams tanks are going to actually hit the ground in Ukraine because they require extensive training and there are a lot of logistical concerns that the administration says it still needs to work out. But this is a big step and Ukraine is welcoming it. They are of course, very happy as they have been asking for these heavy Western tanks for months and months, saying that it could help them break through Russian defensive ones and potentially take back even more of their territory. Natasha Bertrand, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: General Mark Hertling is a CNN Military Analyst and the former Commanding General for U.S. Army in Europe and 7th Army. It's good to see you again.

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good. Great to be with you again, John.

VAUSE: OK, so we just heard from Ukraine's President talking about the need for a lot more than just 14 or 15 tanks, I want you to listen to the Secretary General of NATO on his take. Here he is.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The Russia is preparing for new offensives. We need to enable the Ukrainians soon or fast to be able to repel those offensives and also enable them to retake, liberate their own territory.


VAUSE: So, there's a lot of relief now that tanks are on their way, but obviously this won't happen overnight. Training will take some time and there will be a slow build up process. But at this point, we don't know how long the training will take. We don't know how many tanks will actually end up in Ukraine. We don't even know if the Ukrainians know how to use them, any extended period of time to say anything about maintenance, all the rest of it. So, there is still a lot about this plan that we don't know.

HERTLING: There is, John. And what I'll say is, there are going to be a lot of people jumping up and down saying, hey, finally the decision has been made.


But there's a lot of complexity that even goes into the delivery of these vehicles. Not just the training of the crews, but the training of the maintainers of the tank at different echelons. I mean, whether it's a Leopard, a German Leopard or U.S. Abrams. There's a whole lot of maintenance that goes along with these vehicles, especially in rough, complex, conventional combat.

So, yes, you'll start seeing the delivery, you'll start seeing the announcement of where Ukrainian tankers and maintainers are going to train. I have some ideas of where that might be taking place. But then, there's just the delivery of the tank itself.

VAUSE: So, as to why this whole process of supplying German tanks became so drawn out, I want you to listen to Germany's new defense minister on any possible cracks within the NATO alliance over this issue. Here he is.


BORIS PISTORIUS, GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER: It is not the case as portrayed over and over again that there is no unity or that Germany isolated. There is an ongoing evaluation process in the member countries which is carried out in different ways.


VAUSE: Yeah. So, it's all just about a different evaluation process, you know, I guess it's possible. But what's your take?

HERTLING: Well, my take is that -- that is actually exactly right. You first have politics involved with it, and then you have the capability for the donation. Then, you have -- how do you sustain these things? What do we want to deliver? What are the kind of things we want in an export vehicle? There are a list of about 50 questions that any donating country is going to ask themselves when they're giving up some of their national security equipment. In the case of Germany, though, you have a couple of political problems. Number one, you have a brand-new defense minister. You also have some extreme views on both the left and the right side of the German chancellor on why they should or should not give tanks. A lot of things played a part in this. But I think, truthfully, the pressure of other NATO nations actually contributed to Germany finally making this decision.

VAUSE: Well, the end result of all this back and forth is that the Ukrainians will receive the German made Leopard tanks as well as the U.S. M1 Abrams, which use up a lot of fuel. They're very gas hungry. They're difficult to maintain, the complex to use, and require a lot of training. By comparison, the Leopard tank runs on diesel, is easier to operate, which in theory means less time needed for training for the Ukrainians. So, explain why is the U.S. now committing Abrams tank into a battlefield or war zone far more suited to the German made Leopard tanks? What's going on? What's the reason for this?

HERTLING: I think the reason the United States is contributing, and I actually thought a few months ago they would eventually do this like we've done to a lot of our other partner nations, is it's building for the future, but it is going to take a lot of time. And in fact, contributing the Abrams will drive other systemic improvements in the Ukrainian military, like an establishment of a very viable logistics system, which I think if Ukrainian officers were being honest right now, they have a lot of work to do in their sustainment area. So, this might help them do that to get the kind of maintainers and spare parts and resupply and lines of communications ready. But that's going to come toward the end of this. And, you know, I'll predict, John, that you may see a couple of Leopard tanks on the battlefield by March and when I say a couple, maybe a company or battalion's worth it will eventually grow. But the Abrams probably won't get there for, in my view, between six and eight months because it takes a lot of work to set that sustainment base and to train the people that are maintaining that tank.

VAUSE: General Mark Hertling, as always, thank you for your insights, your expertise, your knowledge and your experience. Thank you, sir.

HERTLING: My pleasure, John. Thank you.

VAUSE: Later this hour, a return to Cold War era defections Russians who once worked for the powerful FSB tells CNN how they escaped.

The 41st Prime Minister of New Zealand has been sworn into office and faces the daunting task of filling the shoes of the 40th Prime Minister who resigned last week. Chris Hipkins also held his first cabinet meeting in the capital of Wellington. The former Education Minister received unanimous support from within the ruling Labor Party for the top job.


CHRIS HIPKINS, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: I think cost of living is right at the top of the issues facing New Zealanders at the moment because it has an impact on just about every other one of the issues that New Zealanders will care about.


VAUSE: With Hipkins sworn in, former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern now moves to the back bench and she plans to spend more time with her family. It's been quite the five years. For more on this, CNN's Anna Coren live for us again in Hong Kong. You know, as much as Ardern was a superstar who progressives around the world, she's antidote Trumpism. She was also a focus on a lot of hate, a lot of misogyny from the far right. And that really took its toll on the end.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely. I think if you listen to the commentators, John, they will say that misogyny certainly played a role in her decision to resign early. She claims it was burnout, that she didn't have anything left in the tank.

But the reality on the ground is such that New Zealanders have simply fallen out of love with Jacinda Ardern. And, you know, Chris Hipkins, 44-year-old, you know, the new leader of New Zealand, hit the nail on the head when he talked about the cost of living, because this is what is affecting everyday New Zealanders. Obviously, inflation, which is a global phenomenon, rising crime, inequality, you know, these are the issues that New Zealanders are talking about. They're obviously blaming Jacinda Ardern and her government, the Labor Party, for what has transpired. She has resigned. It was a shock when she made that call last week, but Chris Hipkins, he's taken on the mantle. He's hoping that he can turn his party's fortunes, you know, over the next nine months, but he has a huge task ahead. Certainly, on the international stage, John, Jacinda Ardern will be remembered very fondly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations, Prime Minister Hipkins.


COREN: A new prime minister for New Zealand, Chris Hipkins succeeds Jacinda Ardern after she suddenly announced her resignation last week.

HIPKINS: This is the biggest privilege and the biggest responsibility of my life. I'm energized and excited by the challenge that lies ahead.

COREN: The 44-year-old career politician, also known in Parliament as Chippy, has been a close ally to Ardern, most notably taking charge of the country's COVID-19 policies when the pandemic began. His swearing in also marks the end of an era for Ardern, whose poise and leadership were lauded far and wide.

JACINDA ARDERN, THEN NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: I am determined to do things differently. I do think you can be both strong and compassionate. I do think success is not just about economics, but about your social indicators of success.

COREN: Ardern burst onto the global stage in 2017 as one of the world's youngest female leaders, known for taking her newborn to the U.N. General Assembly.

ARDERN: I am by no means the first woman to multitask. And in terms of being a woman in politics, there are plenty of women who carved a path and incrementally have led the way to be able to make it possible for people to look upon my time in leadership and think, yes, I can do the job and be a mother.

COREN: She's an outspoken supporter of gender equality, gun control and fighting climate change. In the end, she said she was tired and needed to step down. But her legacy won't be forgotten. HIPKINS: Jacinda Ardern has been an incredible Prime Minister for New

Zealand. She was the leader that we needed at the time that we needed it. Jacinda provided calm, stable, reassuring leadership, which I hope to continue to do.

COREN: With elections less than a year away, Chris Hipkins has to prove he can keep the ruling Labor Party in power.

EVA MURPHY, NEW ZEALAND RESIDENT: He definitely has big shoes to fill. He won't ever fill the shoes that Jacinda has. And it'll be interesting to see what Labor come out with in terms of the election campaign over the next year.

COREN: Now, John, Chris Hipkins may not have Jacinda Ardern's charisma, but he is known as Mr. Fix-It. He likes to get his hands dirty and has a reputation for being hard working. He certainly looked after a lot of portfolios under Jacinda Ardern, health, education, New Zealand's COVID response, policing. So, he is known to New Zealanders. It enough, you know, to get the Labor Party and him elected on October 14? I guess time will tell. As for Jacinda Ardern, she has three more months on the back bench before she retires altogether from politics in April, John.

VAUSE: It would be interesting to see if her style of politics, you know, sticks there in New Zealand. I guess that's one thing we'll wait and see too. Anna, good to see you. Thank you.

No letup in violent protests across Peru, police using tear gas during clashes on Tuesday. The demonstrations began in December after the ouster of President Pedro Castillo. Parts of the country have been left paralyzed by these demonstrations.

Meantime, Peru's current President told reporters on Tuesday that the right to protest cannot be accompanied by violence, damage and death.


DINA BOLUARTE, PERUVIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): At the start of my address, I said were respectful of the rule of law, of the constitution and of the institutions. Would my resignation resolve the crisis and the violence? Who would assume the presidency of the Republic? I'll say it once more, the death of my fellow citizens hurts my heart and my soul. Once again, I ask forgiveness for those deaths.



VAUSE: Dina Boluarte also called for national truce to end weeks of protests and protesters are all calling for her resignation.

For months, Mike Pence was supremely confident, adamant there were no classified documents still in his possession from his time as U.S. Vice President. But now he joins Donald Trump and Joe Biden after about a dozen classified documents were found at his residence. Sources say Pence asked for the search in light of the Trump and Biden discoveries. The materials have been turned over to the FBI. The Justice Department is investigating. But Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tried to explain why Biden's case was so much more serious than Mike Pence's.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Here's President Biden, it's not classified documents just when he was Vice President, but when he was senator. I'm not sure how a senator could ever move classified documents out of a skiff and how many years has he had it, and where is the protection? So, there's a lot of questions to be answered. Who's been able to see this? I don't think the President can sit back and continue to say, you know, they're secure. And I don't know who's been to the House. We know those documents are around, and we'll have to get to the bottom of that.


VAUSE: CNN's Manu Raju call up with Pence's brother Greg, who's a U.S. Congressman from Indiana.


GREG PENCE, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: What the hell is going on?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you tell me. How did classified documents end up at your brother's house in Indiana?

PENCE: No idea. I had to read your report this morning to find out.

RAJU: Do you think there's any chance he knowingly took these documents?

PENCE: No, not at all. If he said he didn't, he didn't. You know, my brother is very honest.


VAUSE: There you go. More now from CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked as classified at Pence's home last week. Now, those documents are in the hands of the FBI and the Justice Department, which has launched a review of what's in those documents and how they ended up at Pence's home in Indiana. Sources tell CNN that aides to Pence were searching boxes at his new home in Carmel, Indiana. And in the wake of these revelations about classified material that were found at President Joe Biden's private office and residence, discovery comes after Pence has repeatedly said that he did not have any classified documents in his possession. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you, as we sit here in your home office in Indiana, did you take any classified documents with you from the White House?

MIKE PENCE, (R) former U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I did not. Our staff reviewed all of the materials in our office and in our residents to ensure that there were no classified materials that left the White House.

PEREZ: A lawyer for Pence says that the former Vice President was unaware that these classified documents were at his home. And the Pence attorney told CNN that the FBI came to Pence's home last Thursday to pick up the documents with classified markings. And on Monday, Pence's legal team drove four boxes of records that may include non-classified government documents back to Washington D.C. to hand them back over to the National Archives for review for compliance with the Presidential Records Act. Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: And there has been some surprising support for Mike Pence from Donald Trump, the one term president posted on his Truth Social platform. Mike Pence is an innocent man. He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone. Exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point.

Freezing temperatures have killed at least 157 people in Afghanistan so far this winter. That's according to the Afghan Ministry of Disaster Management. Also says the extreme cold has killed about 700 livestock around the country. Earlier this month, temperatures plunged to as low as minus 28 degrees Celsius far below average temperatures for this time of year.

There is, however, some good news for travelers stranded by snow in South Korea. Flights to and from Jeju Island have been allowed to resume, but that does not mean the extreme weather is over. Up to 70 snow expected on Jeju through the coming hours. Nearly 360 people were stranded on Tuesday after almost 500 flights were canceled.

In the U.S. tornado warnings have just been cleared for New Orleans as dangerous storms continue to threaten the Gulf Coast. This after more than a dozen tornadoes were reported across parts of Texas and Louisiana. At least one confirmed tornado struck near Houston on Tuesday. A local official in Pasadena, Texas caused the structural damage catastrophic. Tens of thousands of Texas customers lost power and emergency crews were responding to a high number of stranded motorists.


Well, for more and all of this, let's go to CNN Meteorologist Britley Ritz at the CNN Weather Center. There's a lot going on.

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, absolutely. Over the last 24 hours, from west Texas, or rather east Texas into southwest Louisiana, we have had 14 reports of tornadoes. Now, granted, those are not confirmed touchdowns, but still 14 reports and eleven wind reports with wind gusts over 60 miles per hour. Severe thunderstorm warnings still in effect until just after midnight, Central Time. That includes Biloxi, where wind gusts are expected to reach over 60 miles per hour.

The strongest of the storms within southern Mississippi along the coastline at this time, but we are still expected to deal with severe weather over the upcoming hours. Tornado watches in red that extends now into the Florida Panhandle until 05:00 Central Time. And that system itself takes its track eastward over the next 12 to 24 hours. And severe weather is still expected, only this time it moves into the Southeast and ride on up the Eastern Seaboard. So, from Panama City, Charleston into Wilmington areas highlighted in yellow, a little more vulnerable for that severe weather risk. Still includes the threat for a few tornadoes, but more of a wind threat for tomorrow.

On the back end of the system, it's cold, so snow continues to fall through Oklahoma and on up into the Ohio Valley, pushing up into New England. Winter storm warnings in effect through the upcoming days, or several inches of snow expected to fall up through the Ohio Valley. There on the Indiana and Ohio line, nearly a foot of snow expected. Higher amounts are expected in the northern parts of New England, in the higher elevations of the Appalachians. John.

VAUSE: Britley, thank you. Appreciate it.

Still to come, new information on the man accused of killing seven people in California during a shooting rampage on Monday, we'll have the very latest.

Also ahead, progress against cholera, Kenya inching closer to controlling a deadly outbreak despite a record drought, which is a clean water supply, running dry.


VAUSE: Welcome back. New details now on the two shootings in Half Moon Bay, California, Monday. Police say the gunman killed five men and two women of Asian and Hispanic descent as he moved from one site to another. The shooter also lived at the first farm where he opened fire, according to a company spokesperson. He lived and worked at the first site since at least March of last year, when it was sold to new owners. Police say he was also accused of threatening to murder a former coworker at a different job.

In Southern California, the city of Monterey Park held a Virgil for the victims of a shooting that claimed eleven lives. Mayor Henry Lo says it's important for the community to come together and heal.

Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom lashing out what he calls Republican obstructionism for preventing gun action on gun violence.


[01:25:04] GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, CALIFORNIA: Federal government needs to do its job. But let's call it out. You have one party that are obstructionist. And if I seem passionate intense about it because I'm damn sick and tired of this stuff. I'm sick of this. I don't want to ever see this again.


VAUSE: Well, it happened again on Tuesday. Mass shooting in North Carolina brings to some total 40 in the first three weeks of 2023. 40 mass shootings. That puts the U.S. on pace more than 600 mass shootings by the end of the year.

Well, Kenya has been fighting a cholera outbreak which has stretched on now for months, leading to more than 4000 cases and 78 deaths since October. Now, the government says a growing number of counties have managed to bring the outbreak under control. CNN's Larry Madowo has warned out from Nairobi.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This cholera outbreak in Kenya has affected the arid and semiarid parts of the country's north the hardest. And there are a couple of reasons for that. For instance, in Garissa County, which has a huge refugee population, mostly from Somalia, they often live in close quarters and that means they're more likely to be exposed to contaminated or poor sanitation facilities. The other is that the region has seen a record drought. And that means that communities there struggle to get access to clean water, which is one of the ways that cholera spreads if you consume contaminated food or water. But Kenya says the situation is getting better. And some of the country's 47 counties have managed to get cholera under control.

DR. PATRICK AMOTH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, KENYAN HEALTH MINISTRY: The number of counties affected has been 14, five counties have managed to be able to bring the outbreak to control, total control. But we still have nine counties which have active cases.

MADOWO: Kenya's Health Ministry says more than 4000 cases have been reported since this cholera outbreak was declared in October. And 78 people have died. The reason it's so dangerous is because people died really quickly if it's not treated right away. Because cholera causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. But the country expects to send the first batches of the cholera vaccine within the next week or so. Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.


VAUSE: Still to come here, a little wartime advice for Ukraine focus less one particular battle and put more effort into a new offensive in the coming months. That's what the west wants. What does Ukraine want?


VAUSE: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom.


Well, we're hearing from the Kremlin now after word the U.S. and Germany are poised to send tanks to Ukraine. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov tells CNN that more weapons from NATO can only bring more suffering to Ukrainians and more tension. He went on to say these moves will not prevent Russia from reaching its goals.

The Ukrainian military could be considering a change in tactics. The United States and other western officials are advising Ukraine to cut its losses in the eastern city of Bakhmut where they have been locked in a brutal battle for months over less than 60 kilometers of territory.

Allies are urging Ukrainian military leaders to focus on a new offensive to regain territory in the south in the coming months using the billions of dollars worth of new military hardware coming in from the west.

But getting the Ukrainian president to abandon Bakhmut might be a tough sell because it is strategically and symbolically important. And if Ukraine can hold on to it, troops could be in a position to reclaim the entire Donbas.

Meantime, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia is amassing forces and preparing for revenge.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russia is preparing for a new wave of aggression with those forces it is able to mobilize.

Now the occupiers are already putting the pressure on Bakhmut, Boledar (ph) and other theaters. They want to scale up the pressure to avoid the aggression being a mistake.

The masters of Russia want to throw the majority of their men and material into military action and so all of us in the free world have to strengthen our cooperation for us to counter the new Russian criminal action.


VAUSE: The FSB in Russia is what the KGB used to be in the Soviet Union, a feared federal security service that was once led by Vladimir Putin. But high-ranking members are now defecting. Two of them spoke to CNN's Melissa Bell about why they decided to flee.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Her view was of Moscow from the inside. A life of privilege and access including in FSB vehicle as a doctor working for Russia's federal security service, the powerful FSB.

MARIA DMITRIEVA, FORMER FSB: I'm Maria Dmitrieva (ph). Today is October 12, and I filmed this video in the plane from Moscow.

BELL: A cold war styled defection, booking a flight to France before anyone suspected she might go.

DMITRIEVA: I am now in the French territory.

BELL: Complete with photographs as well as work contracts, patient records and references to prove or identity to French authority.

She also brought documents that thought the West might be interest in.

DMITRIEVA: I brought photos, audio and video recordings which confirms that the majority of the Russian army is against some of the policies of the current leaders.

At my own peril and risk I was able to smuggle my phone into the FSB building twice and was able to make some records.

BELL: She also brought recordings of conversations with senior officials, she says, to hand to French intelligence. Currency, as she sought political asylum.

Dmitrieva is one of a flood of senior Russians from soldiers to Wagner mercenaries and FSB employees now arriving in Europe, so many that Putin promised in December to promptly identify traitors, spies and saboteurs. Even as Europe has been expelling senior Russians -- 600 in 2022, including 400 spies according to the head of the British intelligence agency MI5.

But in an exclusive interview with CNN, former senior FSB lieutenant Emran Navruzbekov (ph) says there are plenty of active agents left. Navruzbekov comes from a family of security service agents, many of his relatives now under arrest in his native Dagestan.

Before defecting, he worked for the FSB in Poland. Now he is seeking asylum there.

EMAN NAVRUZBEKOV, FORMER FSB LIEUTENANT: The role of the FSB since the beginning of the war was they wanted to end the war quickly but failed.

Now in the FSB, it's every man for himself. Everyone wants to escape from Russia. Every second FSB officer wants to run away. Now already they understand that Russia will never win this war. Of course I'm afraid. I know how they work. History says that in any case, I will be killed.

BELL: Vladimir Osechkin says he's helped at least 20 senior Russian insiders escape since the war in Ukraine began. The exiled Russian human rights activists is on Moscow's list of wanted criminals and insists on meeting in a public place.

In September French police opened an investigation into a possible assassination attempt at his home.

[01:34:50] VLADIMIR OSECHKIN, RUSSIAN ACTIVIST IN EXILE: I saw my wife and children who spent more than 30 minutes on the floor. And the children were very scared and my wife like -- look like mother to protect them because if (INAUDIBLE) able to shoot in this moment it was very difficult.

Here is one part

BELL: Osechkin says it's his help to those fleeing and the documents they bring that make him a target.

Like the images he shows up on his computer of what he says are Russian surveillance radar positions aimed at Europe dating back to 2017 given to him, Osechkin says, by a three star general now in exile.

Putin, why does he want to kill me? He's very scared. There is a lot of people who now work in the Putin system but they want to find the way to (INAUDIBLE) with Ukraine, with Europe, with the United States and to subdue (ph) Putin.

BELL: When Osechkin leaves us, it's with some of the policeman who since September ensure his security day and night.

Maria, like many of the Russians arriving, has no such protection and little money left. But she agreed to speak to us, hoping for a better future in the west.

Melissa Bell, CNN -- Paris.


VAUSE: At least a dozen high-ranking Ukrainian officials have been purged from government positions as part of an anti corruption drive. It all started with the arrest of the acting minister for regional development over the weekend. He's accused of receiving $400,000 in kickbacks for arranging contracts for power generators.

On Tuesday, the president's deputy chief of staff announced his resignation after Ukrainian media reports he'd been using a vehicle meant for humanitarian purposes. He denies it.

In the immediate aftermath of Russians invasion of Ukraine, both Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership. Under NATO rules all members must approve new members and all but Turkey has.

Negotiations between the three countries are scheduled for next month but they've now been put on hold at Turkey's request.

Here's Sweden's prime minister.


ULF KRISTERSSON, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Our message was to call for calm, call for restraint. For calm in the process so that we can return to a functioning dialogue between Sweden, Finland and Turkey about our joint NATO membership.

It's important to point out that if there is no functioning dialogue, it will be harder for Sweden to join NATO and that's not strange. But I want to be clear about that this has consequences for Swedish security.


VAUSE: Ankara is outraged over a recent Swedish protest that included burning a Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. Turkey also accuses Sweden of harboring Kurdish separatists considered terrorists by the Turks.

When we come back. Tech giant Google under legal fire from the U.S. Justice Department. We will explain why.



VAUSE: Australia's annual inflation rate has hit a 32-year high, up 7.8 percent in 2022. The highest year over year increase since 1990. Official data shows the consumer price index was up nearly 2 percent in the December quarter. Travel, electricity and housing were driving the increased cost of living.

The U.S. Justice Department and eight states sued Google on Tuesday accusing the tech juggernaut of harming competition with its dominance in online advertising.

This is the Biden administration's first blockbuster antitrust case against a big tech company. In response, a Google spokesperson accused the Justice Department of trying to pick winners and losers in the advertising technology sector.

More now from CNN's Anna Stewart.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Allegations that Google holds too much control are nothing new. But this latest legal broadside from the U.S. Justice Department its first major antitrust case under the Biden administration has certainly ramped up the pressure.

Now this complaint argues that Google has actively and illegally dominated the digital advertising market for many years as detailed by the U.S. Attorney General in a press conference Tuesday.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: For 15 years, Google has pursued a course of anti competitive conduct that has allowed it to halt the rise of rival technologies, manipulate auction mechanics to insulate itself from competition and force advertisers and publishers to use its tools.

STEWART: Now, the lawsuit accuses the tech giant of controlling too much of the ecosystem of digital advertising including three main areas.

Firstly, the technology used by major Web site publishers to offer ad space. Secondly, the tools used by advertisers to buy that space. And thirdly, the largest automated ad exchange essentially linking (ph) the publisher with the advertiser.

In fact, the complaint alleges that Google's own executives have questioned this. Quoting one as saying, an analogy would be if Goldman or Citibank owns the (INAUDIBLE). The U.S. government is calling for Google to be broken up and force to spin off at least it's online advertising exchange and ad service with publishers.

Google responded with a statement saying today's lawsuit from the DOJ attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising tech sector. Goes on to say that flawed argument would slow innovation, raise advertising fees and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.

Google is not new to fighting antitrust legal battles. The DOJ sued Google for its dominance in web searches in 2020. The commission launched an anti-trust probe into its conduct in digital advertising last year and has already fined Google three times in antitrust cases totaling more than $9 billion so far.

Anna Stewart, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: That is the sound of relief on Wall Street for the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange which came after a technical issue briefly halted trading since after the market opened. More than 250 stocks were impacted including brands like Verizon, McDonald's, (INAUDIBLE), Walmart. Spokesperson for the exchange says trades made before the halt will be canceled.

Nigeria is an entrepreneurial economy but one of the biggest challenges for upcoming businesses is access to credit. Many small businesses in the country do not have the collateral needed to secure big loans.

CNN's Lynda Kinkade meets the cofounder of Carbon, a Nigerian credit- led digital bank that might just have a solution.


CHIJIOKE DOZIE, COFOUNDER, CARBON DIGITAL BANK: I think Africa is an amazing place for companies to thrive and grow. If you can make it in Africa, you can make it anywhere.

In a lot of cases, we were actually creating new businesses and new opportunities. So that is why I think this is a very fertile ecosystem for new ideas, for innovative ideas.

My name is Chijioke Dozie. I am the cofounder of Carbon Digital Bank.

Carbon is a credit led digital bank that provides loans, current accounts, and facilitates transactions for our customers.

We are available only on a smartphone app. We're branchless, we're cashless and we're available 24/7. We have over 4 million customers that have download the app. We've had over a million people applied for a loan and processed, and getting loans from Carbon and we have over 800,000 accounts (INAUDIBLE).

We've had customers who needed emergency loans in the middle of the night because maybe unfortunately there was an accident and they needed cash at the hospital. So they've been able to successfully download the app, make an application and also receive funding even at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.


DOZIE: The challenge we are trying to overcome, which is making credit available to Nigerians and also Africans, is still one that we are yet to accomplish.

So it is still day one. There's still a lot of opportunities for Africans to get credit cheaply, safely and in a convenient manner. So that is what keeps us going.

We really want to focus on our buy now pay later product carbon zero because we believe that most people in Nigeria pay for goods and services with cash 100 percent down. There isn't a big culture of credit or overdraft. And that is one thing we want to change.

We believe that credit used well is enhancing to one side. And so we really want to change the way that Nigerians pay in the next few years.


VAUSE: Still to come on CNN, why lawmakers grilled the boss of Ticketmaster over the Taylor Swift ticket debacle saying it is karma for the site's larger than life influence.

That is after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, "I'm the problem. It's me."




VAUSE: Oh baby, baby, baby -- that is what money sounds like. Justin Bieber has sold the rights to his entire catalog of music to Hipgnosis, an investment company. According to Billboard, they paid $200 million, a deal which "Rolling Stone" calls the largest sale of any artist in Bieber's generation. The deal follows a trend for older artists to sell their rights to

their music like Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and Justin Timberlake.

Baby, baby, baby.

The president of Ticketmaster's parent company endured hours of questioning by U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. Mostly over how the company fumbled the rollout of ticket sales for Taylor Swift's latest tour.

It's safe to say fans had a little bit of bad blood for the company after they canceled the public sale of tickets altogether, prompting renewed discussion over Ticketmaster influence over the entire industry.

CNN'S Jason Carroll has details.


JOE BERCHTOLD, PRESIDENT, LIVE NATION ENTERTAINMENT: We apologize to the fans, we apologize to Miss Swift. We need to do better and we will do better.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will an apology be enough to satisfy music fans looking for retribution and lawmakers looking for answers?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): You can't have too much consolidation, something that unfortunately for this country as ode (ph) Taylor Swift, I will say we know all too well.

CARROLL: Ticketmaster's parent company Live Nation Entertainment president and CFO Joe Berchtold grilled for hours by lawmakers trying to determine if the company's influence over the concert and events industry is essentially a monopoly. One that critics say was created in 2010 when Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged.

BERCHTOLD: We hear people say the ticketing markets are less competitive today than they were at the time of the Live Nation and Ticketmaster merger. That is simply not true.

CARROLL: Throughout the day, senators on both sides of the aisle challenged that notion.

SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement. You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause.

CARROLL: Senator Richard Blumenthal, one of several senators who borrowed lyrics from Swift to make a point.


BLUMENTHAL: And may I suggest respectfully that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, "I'm the problem. It's me."

CARROLL: Today's hearing, part of the fallout after the fiasco surrounding Ticketmaster's handling of presale tickets to Swift's upcoming tour. It was bungled so badly last November it left scores of frustrated fans faced with technical issues such as canceled tickets, a crashing site and an artist beside herself over what people endured to get her tickets. Swift tweeted, "It really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.

Critics testify the Swift fallout is the result of anti competitive conduct from a company with too much power.

Singer Clyde Lawrence, a member of Lawrence the Band, testified about the problem of added ticket fees.

CLYDE LAWRENCE, SINGER: Most of the issues we face stem from the fact that Live Nation Ticketmaster often acts as three things at the same time -- the promoter, the venue, and the ticketing company.

CARROLL: Lawrence penned an op-ed in the "New York Times" following the Swift incident about what he called Live Nation's outside influence on live music.

His 2021 song titled "False Alarms" included this lyric.

LAWRENCE: Live Nation's a monopoly.

CARROLL: He told the Senate Judiciary Committee performers should see a bigger share of merchandise sales and caps on fees that affect both artist and consumers.

While some industry insiders question how much one hearing is likely to change things, others say the Swift movement has already had an impact.

Jason Carroll, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: With us now from Los Angeles is "Variety" executive editor of music Shirley Halperin. Thank you for being with us. Thanks for taking the time.


VAUSE: Ok. So I want you to listen to a little more from the CFO of Live Nation on what caused the whole debacle with the Taylor Swift tickets. Here he is.


BERCHTOLD: We knew bots would attack that on sale and planned accordingly. We were then hit with three times the amount of bot traffic that we had ever experienced. And for the first time in 400 verified fan on sales they came after our verified fan password servers as well.

While the bots failed to penetrate our systems to acquire any tickets, the attack requires to slowdown and even pause our sales.


VAUSE: So explain the connection between that technical side of this debacle and the monopoly side of what they are alleging here with Live Nation and Ticketmaster over the whole ticketing incident. How do you see -- these things actually linked is what I'm trying to say?

HALPERIN: They are linked. They are linked almost like in a collusionary (ph) kind of way. And on the technical side, the big gripe seems to be access to tickets. It is harder to get the tickets. You are stuck in long queues. You fall out of the queue.

You know, there are millions of different passwords and hoops that you have to jump through. So that's a big part of it. The other part of it is that there are these bots, there are these basically scalpers, they're digital scalpers who buy chunks of tickets at a time and they are able to bypass this verified fan system and resell those tickets for different prices.

The sort of like complicated thing is exactly what that artist said from the Lawrence Band which is that Live Nation has three roles. Not only is it promoting the show, it owns the venue and is selling the tickets.

And on the secondary market, the resale market, it's getting another piece of the ticket. So it sold the ticket once. It's made its fees off of that. It's selling it again. It's making more fees off of that and people are priced out of the concert industry.

Coming after COVID when there were no live shows for two years, this is not a great way to reintroduce or to introduce a new generation of music lovers to live music.

VAUSE: In terms of the monopoly or the alleged monopoly by Ticketmaster, the cofounder of SeatGeek, a direct competitor of Ticketmaster put it this way. Here he is.


JACK GROELZINGER, SEATGEEK: As long as Live Nation remains both the dominant concert promoter and ticketer of major venues in the U.S., the industry will continue to lack competition and struggle.


VAUSE: And a condition of the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster prohibited the company from retaliating against concert venues, for using another ticketing company. Threatening concert venues or undertaking other specific actions against concert venues for 10 years.

And in 2019, the Department of Justice found Live Nation had repeatedly done just that for years. And the company agreed to extended court oversight.

So the only ones at this hearing who did not believe that Live Nation had a monopoly was Live Nation.


VAUSE: So whatever you want to call it, the current market set up is how is it impacting anyone who just wants to see a concert? You touched on this just before.

HALPERIN: Yes, I mean it is a monopoly because it is a very competitive business. And competitive edge is that 80 percent of the market that Live Nation and Ticketmaster currently can claim for themselves.

It's really hard if you are a SeatGeek to have that market share penetration. It's not even the technology. It really is who's controlling these buildings.

And you know, another interesting thing that came up in this was whole idea of artists are paid a fair price. They're not paid a fair price, they're paid an exorbitant price in certain cases. But it has to cover significant costs. (INAUDIBLE) that's big enough to fill a room the size of an arena or stadium.

So the dollar and cents on this, you know, it's really the artists are taking the lion's share and the promoter, the ticketing company, the venue has to split a much smaller percentage of, you know, merchandise and concessions and parking.

But that smaller proceed is still so much money. And they are all sort of swimming in it. They're just trying to replicate a model that existed before digital ticketing but the economics of live music have changed dramatically. And you can't retrofit it.

So that's sort of like a big picture issue that I see going down here. But for the average person it just means, like I had to pay, I had to buy a concert ticket to see Adele. I paid $100. The ticket was $660, and the service fees were $140, you know.

VAUSE: It's crazy.

HALPERIN: And we know whose pockets those are lining, you know, and it's a secondary ticket. So yes, it really is -- it's become so expensive to see a concert.


VAUSE: Yes, all the fees of the thing kind of gets me.

So very quickly we have Justin Bieber. He's got (INAUDIBLE) million dollars for a 28-year-old selling his entire library, his catalog. He's going to build up another catalog, right. So this is the sound of money, if you ask me. What we are hearing with Bieber.

HALPERSIN: Yes, he is the youngest person to receive over $200 million in a catalog sale. We've seen $300 and $400 million sales but they've been veteran artists like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young. Justin, obviously there is a liquidity desire here where he wants the cash. A lot of times, you know, the old business, they would say never sell your publishing, you want to let it amass value. But when you already have 290 songs of tremendous value, what are you waiting for the price to go up to? You know, it is classic capitalism.

VAUSE: It was a great payday for Bieber.

Shirley, thanks so much for being with us. We really appreciate your time. Take care. Thank you.

HALPERIN: Thank you.

VAUSE: Thank you for watching. I'm John Vause.

Rosemary Church is up after a short break.