Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Murdered Journalist Appears Live on Ukrainian TV; Trump Responds to Firing of Barr Over Racist Tweet; Roseanne Barr Blames Ambien For Racist and Anti-Semitic Comments. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.

And we begin with stunning and bizarre news. Ukrainian authorities now say a Russian journalist is alive and well after last night stating he was

killed in an attack. But in the last 30 minutes, Arkady Babchenko a critic of Russian President, Vladimir Putin, appeared here at a news conference on

Ukrainian TV. Let's get you straight to Moscow and to my colleague, Fred Pleitgen. What on earth is going on, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky, I certainly get to cover the craziest story of the day. It was late last

night that information came out that Arkady Babchenko had apparently been killed in front of the house that he lived in, in Kiev. Allegedly he was

buying bread, he came back, he was shot in the back. They then said that he was found by his wife, an ambulance was called, and that he died on the

way to the hospital.

Now what happened after that was huge political fallout between Russia and Ukraine, but even the Ukraine Prime Minister coming out with an angry

statement on Facebook, blaming the Russians for it, the employer of Mr. Babchenko, ATR TV in Ukraine, did exactly the same thing.

The Russians obviously saying they have nothing to do with killing him, and then as you've noted a couple of minutes ago -- I think it was about 30 or

40 minutes ago -- this press conference started among others of the Ukrainian Intelligence Service and then Mr. Babchenko turned up at the

press conference and said that all of it was a ploy. That apparently a plot was discovered to assassinate him. Which she claims was directed by

Russia and apparently someone was taken into custody after what they call a successful counterintelligence operation by the Ukrainian intelligence


So, it's still is very much a developing story. Were obviously still getting information, but it definitely is a very, very bizarre one, and

certainly the Russians will be quite angry at the fact that they've been accused of killing this man, but in reality, he is very much still alive,

as we're seeing now -- Becky.

ANDERSON: It's shocking. And this will sadly only add grist to the melody of the fake news conspiracists out there, of course. What we know about

Arkady Babchenko?

PLEITGEN: Yes, he certainly is very much a critic of the Kremlin. He did flee Russia last year after becoming under a lot of pressure here. After

some of the things that he said in Facebook. Especially about Russia's operations in Syria. He always said that he didn't feel safe in Russia

anymore. And as I said, he was working for this Ukraine television network called ATR. Still speaking a lot about the situation in Russia. So, he

was certainly someone who was not very popular here in this country and someone does and apparently still does fear for his safety.

What Ukrainians are apparently say now is that a couple months ago they uncovered an alleged plot to kill him. They shared that information with

him, he decided to go along with what we've seen right now, this staged killing of himself. And they say that this was a successful operation. On

another note, one of the other people who is apparently is pretty angry about this is his wife. Because she didn't know about either. At the

press conference that he went to, he also apologized to her and said there was no other way of doing it except to not tell her this was going on --


ANDERSON: when it an outpouring of grief, certainly, on social media when it was announced he had been killed, errantly of course. You eluded to the

Russians clearly. They're going to be pretty outraged by this. Have we had an official response?

PLEITGEN: We haven't had an official response to this yet. I am assuming that there's going to be one very quickly, and we are monitoring for that.

But I mean, if you've seen the reactions throughout the better part of the day when the allegations were out there by top Ukrainian government

officials that the Russians were behind the killing for what they then said was the killing of this man. I mean, there was really an outpouring of

outrage that went to the highest level of the Russian government. You had the spokesman for Vladimir Putin, for the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov,

come out and call this cynicism. That it was Russia phobia. That these were attacks that were unfounded.

And that Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, at a very prominent forum here in Russia, come out and also say that these were Russia phobic

attacks. The Russians had nothing to do with it, that the investigation was just starting.

[11:05:00] So, clearly, they were angry when all of this happened. And one could only imagine that now it turns out that all of this was stage, how

angry they will then. Now the Ukrainians are still saying there was this plot to assassinate him. They say it was directed and funded by the

Russians. So, will wait and see what sort of evidence there is. They also say that there is apparently someone in custody. So, will wait and see

what sort of evidence Ukrainians come up with. But it certainly is going to -- or almost certainly, most probably will in the future leads to Russia

every time there's going to be a claim by the Ukrainians to bring this up to try and undermine that.

ANDERSON: Which is terrible when one considers the atmosphere in which this reported death happened given the anti-Kremlin, anti-Putin journalist

in the past who have been assassinated.

PLEITGEN: Yes, you know, that's one of the things that if you look around at lot of the things that have been on media today, obviously there were

people who were reminding of the fact there were journalist from Russia who had been killed in the past. And also, Kremlin critics have been killed,

where it was unclear how it happened. Where there were allegations that the Kremlin was behind it. The Kremlin denied it. Obviously, many people

not believing the Russian denounce. You had Anna Politkovskaya, for instance, in 2006 who is going down. It was never really clear who exactly

was behind that. You had Denis Voronenkov who was also killed, a former Russian lawmaker who was killed in Kiev. Where also the finger of blame

was pointed at the Russians as well.

You had Boris Nemtsov, the prominent opposition figure, who was gunned down in 2015 in Moscow. Where again, the finger of blame was pointed. So

certainly, it is really a very delicate and difficult topic for Russia but also for Russia's standing in the international community. And so again,

that's one of the reasons why you would expect that there would be a forceful reaction the it was never clear who exactly was behind some, and

you have a former Russian from the Russians to this. These accusations having been put out there from top level Ukrainian politicians going out

there and publicly accusing them of killing a man who actually is still alive -- Becky.

ANDERSON: For those who may just joining us, I just want to reset this story for our viewers. Ukrainian authorities now say shockingly that a

Russian journalist is alive and well after last night stating that this man on the left of your screens --just behind the guy speaking here -- had been

killed in an attack. But in the last 30 minutes, Arkady Babchenko, a critic of Russian President, Vladimir Putin -- and you can see Arkady here

in the middle -- has just appeared here at a news conference on Ukrainian TV. How big a story was this in Russia when it broke? Not the fact he had

not been killed, but the reports that he had?

PLEITGEN: Well, it was a huge story here in in Russia. It certainly was. And it was all over Russian media. Russians were obviously talking about

it. Especially the government media, of course also saying, that they didn't believe that the Kremlin was behind it. Russian officials speaking

about it a lot as well. In fact, Becky, there was even a memorial that was planned here in Moscow at the Journalist House for 7:00 p.m. local time

tonight. Which would have been an hour from now to commemorate Arkady Babchenko and to remember him.

And also, obviously, people were really taken aback by the fact that they thought this man was killed. It was the top news item, and I certainly

assume that is going to remain the top news item now that it's become clear that all of this was staged. And I assume there will be a lot of outrage.

Because I mean, one of the things that we have to keep in mind, is that journalism can be a very dangerous business, especially if you are critical

of authorities here in this country. And certainly, using that to stage an operation is not something that going to go down very well here. Because

it is very, very serious business for the journalists here. It's been a very serious matter where they can get into a lot of trouble. Were they

can get a lot of backlash, and then to have something like this happen. We're going to wait and see about what's going to happen with reactions

from other journalists, investigative journalist here in this country. See what they say about it. But I can't imagine that they would be very happy

about what happened.

ANDERSON: No, no, nor can I. Look, let's just pause for a moment. I want to get our viewers the latest on this. A Russian journalist, Arkady

Babchenko, who was reported dead on Tuesday -- and this is him on your screen, highlighted there on the left of your screen -- appeared on

Ukrainian television just minutes ago to announce his death was faked by the Ukrainian Security Services in order to foil a plot to murder him.

He said, and I quote, my life has been preserved, and the most important thing is to prevent more serious acts of terrorism and people are seriously

prepared, Babchenko said.

[11:10:00] You've probably just heard that at the same time as I heard it, Fred. The response to this faked death from Babchenko himself, your


PLEITGEN: Yes, I mean, he clearly thought that his life was in danger. He said he that he had received information from the Ukrainian authorities

that to him strongly indicated there was information about him out there, and that could have only come from the Russian Federation. He was talking

about a passport copy, I think of a photo of him that could have only been obtained from Russia. Because that's obviously where he was resident

before. That's where his passport comes from. So, it seems as though he believed that he had credible information. That's the reason why he went

along with this -- I wouldn't even call it a plot -- with this plan apparently that the SBU there had. It can't have been a very easy decision

for him to make.

Because he himself must be aware of the repercussions that it could have. And also, what some of his colleagues might be thinking. Also, Russian

colleagues here who do investigative work, might be thinking of the fact that this was done. So, he clearly is someone who took the information

very seriously and then decided to go along with it. It can very well be that this could spark a big international incident between the Russians and

the Ukrainians. I can only imagine what could go on in the ministry here in Moscow right now. The Foreign Ministry for instance and what the

response could be.

ANDERSON: Stand on, because we have a little more from Arkady Babchenko -- seen there on the left of your screen -- who has apologized to his wife for

allowing her to believe that he was murdered.

And I quote him. I want to apologize, of course, mostly to my wife for what she has been through for the last couple of days. Olechka, forgive me

please, he said, in a press conference to announce that his death was faked. Babchenko thanked Ukrainian Security Services for saving his life.

We are joined now on the phone by Simon Ostrovsky, he is an investigative editor at Coda Story, joining me on the phone. And as far as I understand

it, you know Arkady. Correct?

SIMON OSTROVSKY, INVESTIGATIVE EDITOR, CODA STORY: Yes, Arkady and I covered the war in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, side by side. They were

different publications but in the same area. And you know, me and my colleagues we're very happy that he's alive on the one hand, but on the

other hand we're really angry that he would put all of us through this. Because we spent all of yesterday sort of exchanging messages and

reminiscing. Putting posts on Facebook and sharing things that we remembered about him and really being quite sad and down and out. So, this

is great on the one hand, but you know, we feel like we've all been duped.

ANDERSON: Stand by, because I know you are one of Babchenko's friends, and many, as you rightly point out, morning him on social media all day and his

Facebook was even memorialized. The title, "Remembering Arkady Babchenko" in various languages. Simon, when you make of this? And what will you say

to him when you next see him?

OSTROVSKY: Well, I mean, I think the overriding emotion that we all have right now is that, you know, we're very pissed off because he sort of put

us through hell over the last 12, 20 or so hours. It's a confusing feeling that I really don't know before, because I haven't known before, because,

you know, in my seventeen years of covering the former Soviet Union, plenty of opponents of Putin and the Russian government have been killed,

including lot and lots of journalists. And none of them have risen from the dead in this way before, and so, this is something completely

unprecedented and something that we're all processing at the moment.

ANDERSON: Some of his friends, and maybe your own, and colleagues, you know, as you rightly point out, very critical. One has tweeted that the

hoax he participated in, quote, crossed a line and undermines even further the credibility of journalists and the media.

I was discussing this earlier on with my colleague, Fred Pleitgen, and this will absolutely just add completely unwanted grist to middle those

conspiracy theorists out there, who shrieked fake news. And the environments that you work in, you and your colleagues work in on the

stories that you work on, you know, your lives are often at risk. And the stories that you work on, you know, your lives are often at risk.

[11:15:01] OSTROVSKY: Yes, it certainly doesn't add journalistic credibility. That much is for sure. I mean, they better have caught the

guy who they say was planning to kill him, because this whole rouse better have been worth it. Even if they do capture this so-called cell or hit

squad, you know, I'm still going to be asking myself was there another way to do this without hurting journalistic credibility in the way Arkady has

now. I don't know. I'm already seeing mentioned in my twitter people accusing this whole situation of being just another example of fake news

and that's not good for us.

ANDERSON: Does it worry you? This I mean, you're clearly angry. How concerned are you?

OSTROVSKY: I mean, it's not -- it's never been easy to be a reporter in the former Soviet Union. So, I don't expect this to get much harder

because of this, you know. We're not in this business to be loved or to be liked. And we often speak truth to power and say things that are

uncomfortable to the subjects of our stories, so we are used to being the focus of anger. So, I think we are going to, you know, continue on in the

same vain, but I am just sort of personally angry to have been put through this by Arkady. And I hope to hear from him because I was not able to

watch the press conference myself. Why they thought that this was the only way to do it.

Because, you know, back in 2016 another journalist was actually killed, Pablo Sharma, in a car bomb explosion in central Kiev. And his murder is

still unsolved and the same security agency that orchestrated this entire operation has been unable to bring his killers to justice, and I would like

to see the people who kill Pablo Sharma brought to justice.

ANDERSON: Simon is a colleague and friend of Arkady Babchenko, the Russian journalist was reported dead on Tuesday. Appearing in the past hour on

Ukrainian television to announce his death was faked by the Ukrainian Security Services in order to foil a plot to murder him. And he said,

Simon, and I quote -- because I know you did not see the press conference. Let me tell you exactly what he said.

He said, and I quote, my life has been preserved but the most important thing is to prevent more serious acts of terrorism and people are seriously

prepared. He also apologized to his wife who clearly believed he had been murdered. He said, Olechka, please forgive me.

Listen, Simon, if you are facing life or death, which apparently is what Arkady was facing, what would you have done?

OSTROVSKY: Well, obviously if I knew there was a credible threat I would have also gone to the authorities and asked for their protection. The

question I'm asking myself is was it necessary in order to catch the perpetrators to fake the death? No, these are the details that I am

interested in finding out to understand why exactly it was necessary for him to fake his death in order to order to survive this ordeal. And so, I

think, you know, the jury is out on the whole thing until we can figure out why that had to happen.

ANDERSON: Simon, thank you for joining us. I am going to take a very short break at this point and stay with me and I will be back with you

after this.

OSTROVSKY: OK. Thank you.


ANDERSON: Let me just update you on the story of the hour. A bizarre episode straight out of a bad soap opera. Ukrainian authorities now say a

Russian journalist is alive and well after last night stating that he'd been killed in an attack. In the last hour Arkady Babchenko, a critic of

Russian President Vladimir Putin, appeared here at a news conference on Ukrainian TV. Later apologizing to his wife who have believed he was

murdered. He also thanked the Ukrainian services for saving his life in what he said was a special operation to foil a murder plot against him.

We're going to have a lot more on this story as it develops, and we will get reaction from Moscow and indeed from Kiev.

Before we do that now, both American megastars, both talking each other up. Both pushing conspiracies on Twitter. Both slammed for what many see as

their out and out racism. Their big difference, well, take a look for yourselves. Donald Trump riding his way of racially-charged remarks right

into the White House, becoming President of the United States. His friend, Roseanne Barr not getting so lucky. Having what is her hugely popular

Trump-friendly show yanked right off the air just hours after going way too far sending out an unquestionably racist tweet. CNN's Brian Stelter gives

us the inside scoop on what went down.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Roseanne Barr making excuses for her racist tweets, comparing one of President Obama's top

advisers, Valerie Jarrett, to an ape. Barr now blames the sleeping pill Ambien and claims that she did not know that Jarrett is black. Despite

initially apologizing, the star is now suggesting that her show was canceled due to her support for President Trump.

ROSEANNE BARR, ACTOR COMEDIAN: Thank you for making America great again.

STELTER: But Barr undermining her own apology with a torrent of retweets from fans portraying her as a victim of a liberal double standard. The

comedienne also retweeted a number of fake and offensive posts. Including this fake yearbook quote claiming Jerrod wanted to change America to be a

more Islamic country. Also, later deleted.

Jarrett is taking the high road. Responding to Barr's initial tweet on Tuesday night.

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I'm fine. I am worried about all the

people out there who don't have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense.

Those ordinary examples of racism have happened every single day.

STELTER: Executives at ABC and Disney decided within hours to end the show. First, first speaking with Roseanne by phone, then publicly

announcing the cancellation. Writing, Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values. Disney CEO, Bob

Iger, adding, there was only one thing to do here and that was the right thing. Roseanne's talent agency, ICM Partners, also dropping her as a


[11:25:00] Behind the scenes, some of Roseanne's co-stars were already planning to quit, including actress Emma Kenny, who plays a granddaughter.

And Wanda Sykes, one of the shows consulting producers. But Barr has spent years posting derogatory material online and peddling right wing conspiracy

theories. Recently she falsely accused a survivor of the Parkland massacre of giving a Nazi salute at a protest. That was based on a doctored photo.

She also promoted the "pizzagate" conspiracy. Falsely claiming that Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of this Washington

DC pizza restaurant. This time though, ABC said she had gone too far.

President Trump meantime keeping silent about the controversy Tuesday night, despite praising Roseanne when the show premiered in March.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And look at Roseanne. I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings. They were unbelievable. Over

18 million people, and it was about us.

STELTER: Trump's son, however, did weigh in, retweeting two of Roseanne's outlandish tweets. Calling billionaire Democratic donor, George Soros, a

Nazi who turned in his fellow Jews to be murdered. Trump junior insisting Barr's tweet was not anti-Semitic.


ANDERSON: That was Brian Stelter. I'm going to bring in a regular guest on the show, Stephen Collinson in America's political nucleus, Washington.

And if this weren't disgraceful enough, Roseanne, Stephen, blaming a racist comment on Ambien tweeting. And in case our viewers don't know what that

is all about, Ambien is a pill design to help you calm down and sleep. So, we've reached out to the company who makes it, Sanofi, and they told CNN

quote, while all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.

What you make of all of this?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think it's very interesting that the president hasn't said anything. On the one hand, this is someone

that has an opinion on pretty much everything and doesn't hesitate to make them public on Twitter every morning. But on the other hand, I don't think

that's particularly surprising, because Trump has a very refined sense of his own political advantage. And I don't think that there is anything for

him to be gained politically by condemning somebody who has come to be seen as a sort of charismatic figure by Trump's supporters.

And then if he were to come out and do what you would think a president would do which is condemn an example of clear racism, the next question

would be, well, are you prepared to apologize for your own rhetoric?

The campaign, for example, the racist campaign which suggests that President Barack Obama was not even born in the United States, which

launched Trump's campaign. And some of the racially charged comments he's made during his presidency, for instance, saying there were good people on

both sides of the riot that involved, sort of neo-Nazis last year. So, I think that's the reason the President hasn't weighed in here.

ANDERSON: Well, Stephen, as you rightly point out, Donald Trump is no stranger to making extremely insensitive racial remarks. And so, I just

want our viewers to see this.


TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

I would like to have him show his birth certificate.

When Mexico sends his people, they're not sending their best.

They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.

This judge is of Mexican heritage, I'm building a wall.


ANDERSON: Given all that, Trump's association with Roseanne and so by extension her tweet. You've said you don't expect him to respond or tweet

about this, but it wouldn't be out of the -- it wouldn't be out of turn for him to do exactly that, would it?

COLLINSON: No, I mean, it wouldn't surprise me that much if Trump decided to double down on this and said that Roseanne had been a victim of

political correctness media bias. I mean, that's perfectly possible given the behavior that the President has shown so far in his presidency. And

you know, there is a certain school of thought, though, that thinks that this could help him politically, or at least not particularly harm him,

even if he did line up with Roseanne.

First of all, the President has long given up any pretense of appealing to Americans outside of his own strong support base, that's his political


[11:30:00] And there has been a long list of instances, some of which he showed there which a lot of journalist thought would harm President Trump,

even doom his political prospects, but they haven't done. And to the extent of this sort of feeds a sense of grievance among Trump supporters in

a way that can help Trump. Because he needs intensity among those people. He needs those people to stay angry to get them to the polls in the midterm

elections in November. So, there's very nuance politics around this, I think.

ANDERSON: Steven Collinson is in Washington for you, and it is 11:30 in the morning. Another busy day for you there. A busy day for us here. It

is 7:30 in the evening. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: You are watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I am Becky Anderson for you at 7:33 here in the UAE. And I want to get you to what is

our breaking news this hour. Let me start again. Everybody thought he was dead until he turned up on television. Ukrainian authorities now saying a

Russian journalist is alive and well after last night stating that he'd been murdered. In the last hour Arkady Babchenko a critical Russian

President Vladimir Putin appeared at a news conference on Ukrainian television apologizing to his wife for it who believed he was shot and

killed. He asked for her forgiveness.

[11:35:00] While thanking Ukrainian security services for helping save his life foiling a murder plot against him. Well, let's hear from Arkady

Babchenko in his own words.


ARKADY BABCHENKO, MISSING JOURNALIST: Good afternoon, I will speak in Russian. And I'm sorry. Personally, I would like to apologize for what

you all had to go through, because I have buried friends and colleagues many times, and I know it's a sickening, vomiting feeling, when you have to

bury your colleagues. You are sorry that they force you to experience all of this.

But in another way, it was impossible. Also, I would like to apologize to my wife for the hell she has been through the last couple of days, and I am

sorry, there were no other options. I would like to thank the security services of Ukraine for saving my life.


ANDERSEN: That was Arkady Babchenko. Let me get you to reply, my colleague in Moscow who is just digesting what we just heard. We started

this hour with asking what exactly is going on and how this will sadly add so much grist to the conspiracy theories doing the rounds about fake news

and to the reputation and credibility of journalists getting on with their jobs, Fred.

PLEITGEN: Yes, and possibly the credibility of any statements coming from the Ukrainian government possibly in the future as well. It was

interesting because late last night there was information that came out that Arkady Babchenko had apparently been gunned down in front of his

house, the house that he lived in with his family. He was found by his wife and picked up by an ambulance and died on the way to the hospital.

There were vicious reactions from the Ukrainian government, the Ukrainian Prime Ministry putting out a Facebook statement blaming Russia. The

Russians of course firing back and saying they had nothing to do with it and all of it was Russo-phobia. And a couple minutes or an hour ago, I

guess, that press conference started and Arkady Babchenko appeared saying this was all part of an operation by the intelligence services of Ukraine.

We obviously have that little statement that we were listening to. There was a little more information that he also gave.

He said the authorities told him the price for allegedly killing him was $40,000, and he said that was the price that was on his head. He said he

had been shown evidenced by the Ukrainian security services that he believed pointed to the fact that all of this was being steered by Russia.

There was a passport photo that was shown that he said only would have been available in Russia because he got that passport when

he was 25. He said all the things that all of the things that went into planning this staged operation took a month and it was difficult to do and,

in the end, he went along with it because he thought there was no other way.

But of course, all of this, Becky, already causing big international outrage, and certainly outrage on the part of the Russians. I want to

bring you up-to-date really quick. There was a statement put out by the spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry. She said he was used as

propaganda, and the she said the Russians were happy to see him alive, and there's a statement from the foreign affairs committee of the Russian

parliament with the head of that foreign affairs committee saying that in the situation with the alleged attempt to kill Babchenko committed a stupid

provocation against Russia and is now disgraced in the eyes of the world.

So those are the early reactions from Russia and I assume there will be many, many more, Becky.

ANDERSEN: So, what we understand about this plan cooked up over the past month.

This was a pretty elaborate ruse. The Ukrainian security services even going so far as to releasing a sketch of the suspect, all of the theater

adding to a growing swell of voices questioning what practical role this all had. We are, as you rightly point out hearing from Russian security

services as we have heard the official explanation from the Ukrainians, I want you to have a look at this, a taste of what some of Arkady's

colleagues, Russian and foreign, have been saying.

One tweeted, that the hoax he participated in crossed the line and undermined even further the credibility of journalists and the media. For

anybody that doesn't know Babchenko, this is one of Russia's most respected investigative journalists and he's right it goes to the heart of the issue

of credibility, doesn't it?

PLEITGEN: It goes to the heart of the issue of credibility. It certainly does. Also, I think, look, for a lot of journalist here in Russia, being

critical of the government, doing investigations is something that is so dangerous and so life threatening, not just necessarily -- or not only life

threatening but the threat of other sorts of things happening to people.

[11:40:00] And it happens to folks on a regular basis they get intimidated and feel the authorities are working against them. It's a very difficult

profession to follow, especially if you are an investigative journalist here in Russia, and you are doing things that are critical or that could

potentially embarrass the Russian government. I'm sure a lot of them won't be happy.

Also, I think for a lot of the investigative journalist here in Russia, publications that have seen journalist killed in the past, they would not

necessarily want this to be used in an operation like this, to be used as a ruse in a staged operation. You had Simon Ostrovsky, then he said look,

the big question that he is asking is whether or not there wouldn't have been some other way to do this. I think the threat of bodily harm, when

you are performing journalism in this country is so real to many people, and I think a lot of the journalist doing it, they have a tough job and

very persistent, and I think a lot of them will not be happy about the fact that this operation was conducted the way it was, Becky.

ANDERSEN: We are joined again on the phone by Simon Ostrovsky an investigative editor on this story. You have been with me about half an

hour ago, and we are getting more from this press conference and we are hearing more from the man on our screens that Arkady Babchenko, a mate of

yours, and everybody it seems was fooled, Simon, mourners set up tributes and left flowers for a man they thought was gunned down in a cold-blooded

murderer. How does Babchenko and indeed how does the Ukrainian government come back from a stunt like this?

OSTROVSKY: You are right. We spent the last couple of hours, a little while ago, messaging each other in a Facebook group between a lot of

journalists that cover Ukraine, talking about the memorial services that we would organize, and people were asking when the funeral would be, when they

could come down to the square in Kiev, and I said there would be a service today.

Those were the last things we were talking about right up until the press conference started, and then you should have seen the messages start

pouring in from everybody with expletives that I probably can't say on TV. This was totally shocking and unprecedented, as I told you a little while

ago. We're still processing what has happened for those of us, you know, who know Arkady's -- I almost said for those of us who knew Arkady, and we

have to figure out what we are feeling but we are happy he's alive yet confused at the same time.

ANDERSEN: I totally get that confusion. What are you going to say next when you see or speak to him?

OSTROVSKY: I think, you know, the first thing I am going to do is I am going to tell him I am glad he's OK, because that's what he told me the

last time we talked when I had been held by the Ukrainian security services during the war in 2014, and that's always the first thing you say. I think

the second thing will be what the hell happened and why did you orchestrate this? That's going to be the very next question.

ANDERSEN: Stand by Simon. I've got Jill Dougherty, CNN's contributor on with this now. she's our former Moscow bureau chief. What you make of all

of this, Jill?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN'S CONTRIBUTOR: A lot of bizarre stories have come out of Ukraine, and I think this is one of the most bizarre. I mean, if it is

correct that the Ukrainian security services had some sort of prior warning that there was an attempted murder pending of Babchenko and so they

organized this operation, if that's true it's too clever by half, and it ends up, I really think, of course, everybody is grateful that Babchenko is

alive, I think it's very damaging to journalism, and I think it's very damaging to Ukraine and its believability around the world. Who would

believe right now the Ukrainian security services if they said something else? Could it be another plot? Could it be another, you know, a special

operation? I just think it's really bizarre and ultimately very damaging for the people who organized it.

[11:45:00] ANDERSEN: Jill Dougherty, my colleague, and Simon on the line, a colleague of the man you see in the middle of your frame here, Arkady

Babchenko who reportedly had been killed until he appeared at this press conference in Ukraine with the security services there, hoax, staged. He

still alive. Fred Pleitgen in Moscow to all of you thank you, were taking a very short break back after this.


ANDERSEN: Breaking news, Donald Trump just came out his first reaction to the canceling of Roseanne Barr's TV show. Trump says on Twitter, Bob Iger

of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ABC does not tolerate comments like those made by Roseanne Barr, gee, he never called President

Donald J. Trump to apologize for the horrible statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call, he tweeted.

Trumps tweet referring to Bob Iger, CEO of Disney. To remind you, President Trump personally congratulated Roseanne Barr when her career

roared back to life a couple of months ago with the reboot of her hit eponymous comedy show. President Trump told Americans, the show is about

us. Well that show got canceled after Roseanne posted a vile tweet. She's blaming the sleep medication, Ambien, for making her fingers type a racist

slur against a former adviser to Barack Obama.

Our next guest says America should stop being astonished by racism. "New York Times" columnist Charles Blow joining us now with his perspective,

should we stop being astonished by the U.S. President, too?

CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": I have. This comment -- this tweet of his is very interesting, because it does something that he

generally does. First of all, he doesn't cite what people have said on ABC that is in any way equivalent to what Roseanne says and he often says

things without evidence, so that's not new and does not astonish and has become routine in America to hear him do this.

But also, in a bigger sense in a more profound sense and what he is do something reducing this kind of historical generational slur and slight.

Which is the comparison of African-Americans or people from Africa to apes and monkeys, to something petty and about him in a political slight,

whatever he's talking about, we don't know because he did not specify.

[11:50:00] But something somebody may have said on the air, he takes it and makes it an equivalency in his mind. This argument was so pervasive that

scientists and doctors for centuries tried to prove that black people -- that the race issue was really not about race, that it was a species

argument, that black people were a sub species of human, and in fact, they had to do that in order to justify the massive suffering and loss of life

that resulted from the slave trade and the subsequent policies here in this country, right? 4 million people died in the march to the shores in Africa

to be transported, not even being transported yet, and another million died in the middle passage on transport. Untold millions die once they are in

the Americas. You have to at some point say this cannot be a real person to allow that to even exist for as long as it did in this country which is

over 200 years. And so --

ANDERSEN: Finish your point.

BLOW: I am just saying for him to try and make an equivalency between political arguments and calling him out and fact checking him to this sort

of historical across the line untouchable sort of subject is crazy.

ANDERSEN: I want to roll a clip from the new season of Roseanne Barr, and some viewers may not know what she does on television, and this is

something you may not expect to see. Hold on.


ROSEANNE BARR, ACTRESS: Most of all, lord, thank you for making America great again.




ANDERSEN: Do you think there's any merit in the claims of so-called liberal Hollywood, so-called in inverted commas, just couldn't stomach pro

Trump use anymore?

BLOW: I don't think that that's what this cancelation is about. In fact, ABC still has some answering to do because they jumped through hurdles and

ignored all of the things she said before the reboot and did it anyway and had millions and millions of viewers. ABC said we are -- we can hold our

nose and she will do her thing and we will have this show and it's serving a population that we think will appreciate it. It just came to a point

where they could no longer do this. The moral stance that you can cleave away the moral deprivation of the person from the art that they produce is

a long-standing question. We've dealt with that with a lot of people in Hollywood, we have dealt with that with a lot of fine artists. How do you

appreciate this thing that they do and at the same time know that they are doing horrible things in their personal life? At a certain point you can't

do it anymore. As a corporation, they decided we can't actually go out and talk out both sides of our mouth about this subject.

ANDERSEN: Right. Good to have you on. It's a busy hour but important that we get this on. I really appreciate your time. Thank you, sir. I

will take a very, very short break, viewers. Back after this.


ANDERSEN: Two breaking news stories just to close out this hour for you, each with its bizarre twist. We first told you about the Russian

journalist seen here who everybody thought of being killed in Ukraine. Only for him to show up alive today, here at the press conference.

And of course, the latest development in the Roseanne Barr saga. A tweet from the President of the United States addressing not the racism that got

his friend fired but going after the TV channel that canned her. Busy day here on CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson, thank you for watching.

CNN continues after this.