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Ukraine Ends Fight at Azovstal Steel Plant; Sweden and Finland Launch Bids to Join NATO, Turkey Objects; Palestinians and Israeli Police Clash around Funeral; North Korea Gives First COVID-19 Figures; Ukrainian Agents Work to Root Out Russian Spies. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 17, 2022 - 10:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of Ukrainians are evacuated from a steel plant considered the last holdout in

Mariupol and a symbol of resistance against the Russian invasion.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is where theaweopgeh8pe was buried alive. The blindfolds, he say, he and his two brothers were made

to wear by Russian soldiers, still strewn by their shallow grave.

GIOKOS (voice-over): But he did not die and shares his grim and incredible tale of survival with Melissa Bell.



SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's told why he's arrested for high treason during martial law and confesses on the

spot to spying. He says that he was allegedly recruited online.

GIOKOS (voice-over): An exclusive look at the work of the Ukrainian secret police, who are fighting Russian spies every single day.


GIOKOS (voice-over): I am Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

Ukraine's months long fight to defend Mariupol is effectively over after evacuation of more than 260 Ukrainians from the Azovstal steel plant , its

military declaring the mission at the plant fulfilled.

The deputy defense minister says the holdouts left on buses on Monday with about 50 seriously wounded. Troops are going to a medical facility. The

rest were transported to a city under Russian controlled territory. Ukraine's deputy prime minister says that her government expects to

exchange Russian prisoners of war for the wounded Ukrainian troops.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy updated his nation on what he called complicated and delicate negotiations to get the Ukrainians out of



VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I want to emphasize that Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle.

I think that every adequate person will understand these words.

The operation to rescue the defenders of Mariupol was started by our military and intelligence officers. To bring the boys home, the work

continues. And this work needs delicacy and time.


GIOKOS: Up north, Ukrainian officials report casualties from Russian missile strikes in the Chernihiv region north of Kyiv. They say that their

forces are repelling Russian efforts to advance on the ground in the east.

Around Kharkiv, the Ukrainian military says that forces are advancing on Russian positions. This includes a border town that Russia has been using

to resupply its troops.

These images show damage to Russian vehicles. Russia's against targeting railway infrastructure in Western Ukraine. This is not far from the Polish

border. Air raid sirens were also heard early Tuesday morning in Lviv.

We have Melissa Bell for us standing by in Kyiv.

Melissa, so many moving elements here. I think the most important is what we have seen coming through Mariupol.

Can you give us some details?

As we heard from President Zelenskyy, these are delicate negotiations that are ongoing. At least they have been able to move the majority of the

soldiers out.

BELL: That is right. What we understand is that it is now more than 260 of those fighters holed up in those steel works for some weeks. They have been

the subject of intense negotiations. They are such a symbol of Ukrainian resistance that have now been evacuated.

You can understand the military significance of their surrender to Russian forces. But there are families waiting for news. Those negotiations are

being watched with the utmost care and a great deal of concern. First of all, we don't know exactly how many of the fighters are still left inside

the Azovstal steel plant.

The only ones we have heard about are the evacuations already of 53 severely wounded. They are being given hospital treatment. There were a lot

of very wounded fighters in there. They had been out of medical supplies for some time. It is important that they get medical care.

Then there is the wider group of those who have been evacuated. They are the subject of those negotiations. So they are in Russian hands.


BELL: The families of those fighters, in places like Kyiv, they have no way of knowing whether or not their loved ones are among the evacuees. They

do not know if or when they will be handed back to Ukrainian authorities.

GIOKOS: Since the start of the war, CNN correspondents have been doing incredible work covering some of the stories of Ukrainians. You met someone

who has an amazing story of survival. Tell us what you heard.

BELL: You mentioned a moment ago the strikes overnight in northern Kyiv. There were some casualties, we don't have the figures. Also on Odessa, we

drove through on Sunday.

As we headed to those parts of the country that had been under Russian occupation, what has happened, Eleni, is you have those cities that have

been the subject of such fierce sieges and bombing.

But it is those stories that we are beginning to uncover in the wider countryside that are further from the world, is where we headed up. We

listened to one particularly harrowing story that is now the subject of a war crimes investigation.


BELL (voice-over): This is where Mykola Kulichenko was buried alive. The blindfolds, he says, he and his two brothers were made to wear by Russians

soldiers, still strewn by their shallow grave.

Mykola shows us where the bullet entered his cheek. His brothers, Yevgeny (ph) and Dmitro (ph), were killed but he managed to escape their tomb.

"I had to live to tell the story, not to Ukrainians but to the world," he says.

The regional prosecutor's office says a war crimes investigation has been opened. This is Mykola's house, where he lived with his two brothers along

with their sister.

On March 18, he says Russian soldiers came into the village, looking for men that they believed were responsible for an attack on one of their

convoys. And that is when the family's nightmare began.

BELL: Three soldiers entered the house, looking for anything that might link the brothers to the attack on the convoy. They found nothing but what

they did find was something to link the family to the military, in the shape of their grandfather's military metal.

BELL (voice-over): They also found Vevgeny's (ph) military bag. Since as a reservist in the Ukrainian army, he was preparing to go and fight.

For four days, their sister, Iryna, heard nothing from her brothers heard nothing until Mykola came back from the dead.

IRYNA KULICHENKO, MYKOLA'S SISTER (through translator): I came home and there was Mykola. I looked at his eyes and asked, "Where are the others?"

He said, "There are no others."

BELL (voice-over): Mykola says that after being taken from their home, the three brothers were blindfolded and interrogated in a cellar for four days.

They were than beaten and taken to the site of their execution. Two months on, he still struggles to speak.

MYKOLA KULICHENKO, ALLEGED WAR CRIME VICTIM (through translator): What do I think of the Russians?

I hate them with all my soul. They are animals. They should burn in hell.

BELL (voice-over): It was only after the Russian withdrawal that a month after their execution, Yevgeny (ph) and Dmitro (ph) were given a proper

burial, a tombstone and the peace that Mykola has been denied.


BELL: Eleni, those strikes as I mentioned, overnight, just south to the story, this is a reminder that there are parts of Ukraine that have been

occupied. They have since been liberated. They're counting the cost of what exactly went on. Those stories continue to emerge.

The situation remains extremely tense. Within the last couple of hours, we have heard that the overall negotiations between Ukraine and Russia to try

and find a way out of this has been suspended.

Again, back to the Azovstal steel plant, those fighters have been handed over to Russia. For now, there is no end to the negotiations or ideas of

when or whether they will be handed back to the U.K.

GIOKOS: As you rightly say, Melissa, these stories are something we are going to be hearing a lot of. Thank you so much for bringing that to us.

These moves on the ground in Ukraine are triggering a seismic shift in European security. Earlier today, Finland's parliament voted in favor of

applying to NATO. Sweden has already declared its intention to join the alliance.


GIOKOS: The prime minister there says that joining the bloc is in the best interest of her country. Take a listen.


MAGDALENA ANDERSSON, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The best thing for the security of Sweden and the Swedish people is to join NATO and

to do it together with Finland.


GIOKOS: Leaders from both nations have been meeting in Stockholm today. Nina dos Santos has been following the latest developments.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): Early on Tuesday, Sweden's foreign minister signed the paperwork for her country to turn

their back on 200 years worth of military nonalignment to proceed with the application process to join NATO.

This is part of a series of highly choreographed moves between Sweden and Finland. They're trying to join the bloc in tandem. The Finnish president

is in Stockholm to address the Swedish parliament for a state visit. They are trying to push the case for closer military cooperation.

These countries are hoping that being part of a bigger security collective will repel or prevent any Russian aggression. They are also aware that it

could take time to join NATO.

They might have to overcome some misgivings of some key important NATO members, like Turkey, that has issues with the fact that some members of

Kurdish separatist movements that they deem to be terrorists have been given asylum in Sweden.

International diplomats believe that they can overcome these issues. Plenty of delegates will head to the United States, to Ankara and perhaps NATO.

Over the next few days, we can expect shows of support that we have already seen from large NATO members. They will be welcoming Sweden and Finland in

this historic moment.

In the meantime, Russia has said, as per Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, that there is no issue with this process, that they are trying

to embark upon. Russia would have an issue if there were nuclear or military infrastructure settled on these borders -- Nina dos Santos, CNN,



GIOKOS: As we heard, Finland and Sweden joining NATO is not a done deal yet. Turkey's president is voicing his opposition to their membership. He

is accusing both nations of harboring terrorist groups.

Turkey represents the second largest military in NATO. This is a significant roadblock. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is following the developments

from us from Istanbul.

The president says that, look, if you are coming to visit, don't waste your time. We have also heard from leadership in Turkey that the door has not

been completely shut.

Does this mean that the Turkish president is going to put things on the table that he wants dealt with, before he considers voting in favor of

Sweden and Finland joining NATO?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Eleni, in the past couple of days, you know, you have Western officials really trying to downplay the

seriousness of this threat from Turkey.

Last night, the Turkish president spoke at a press conference. He seemed to double down on his threat to block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO.

Again, as you mentioned, he is repeating those accusations that those countries are harboring terrorist organizations. He is referring to the

PKK, these separatist Kurdish militants.

Turkey views them as terrorist organizations but the U.S. and the E.U. as well. He had some really harsh words for those two countries. Take a listen

to what the president had to say.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): Are they coming to convince us?

Excuse me but they should not tire themselves. First of all, we would not say yes to those who impose sanctions on Turkey to join NATO. NATO would

then cease to be a security organization and become a place where representatives of terrorist organizations are concentrated.


KARADSHEH: You know, Eleni, this sort of fiery rhetoric is not unusual for the Turkish president. But some people believe that this might be the

president upping the ante before expected negotiations.

Sweden and Finland will be sending delegates to Turkey. You have senior Turkish officials now in the United States. The Turkish foreign minister is

in New York. He is expected to meet with his American counterpart this week.

You would expect that this is going to top the agenda. But listening to the Turkish president yesterday, when he was speaking, he pointed out this --

he talked about giving safe haven for terrorists. I think that one issue that Turkey has, you get a sense that there is some room for some



KARADSHEH: There is the issue of sanctions that those countries put on Turkey back in 2019 against its defense industry. That is something that

Turkey is hoping to get some compromise on.

GIOKOS: Absolutely, Jomana thank you very much for the insight. Good to see you.

Another funeral spirals into violence in the Middle East. More on the uptick of violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

And we also take you to Beirut find out what crisis in Lebanon makes of its latest election results. Its first vote since the 2019 uprising. Stay with

us, we are going to a short break.




GIOKOS: The Palestinian Red Crescent says 71 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces Monday night. The violence broke out around the

funeral for a Palestinian man, who died following last month's unrest at the Al Aqsa mosque compound.

Israeli police say that six officers were also hurt. Atika Shubert covering the story for us and the wave of violence we've seen recently. She joins us

in Jerusalem.

Atika, give me a sense of what sparked the latest violence and details on the injured as well, 71 Palestinians from what we understand.

ATIKA SHUBERT, JOURNALIST: Yes, quite a few injuries, including some very serious. This was a funeral for Walid al Sharif. He was a young Palestinian

man. He actually was injured last month, very severely in unrest at the Al Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. He succumbed to his

wounds recently, the funeral held yesterday.

Now from what we understand, we had a CNN producer live on the scene yesterday. And he told us that Israeli police blocked a number of

Palestinians from going to the mosque for the funeral. That seems to have triggered this unrest.

These clashes that lasted for nearly an hour, Palestinians there threw bottles, rocks, fireworks at police. The police used tear gas, stun

grenades and rubber coated bullets. And as you point, out the Palestinian Red Crescent reporting a number of injuries. Israeli police also had six

injuries as well among their officers though quite slight.

Among those Palestinians injured, a very severe injury, a man who was shot in the eye with a rubber coated bullet. Unfortunately this is just the most

recent turn in that cycle of violence. Tensions have been rising not only in Jerusalem but in Israel and across the West Bank for a few weeks now.

There has been a spate of killings of Israelis by Palestinians and violent attacks in the last few weeks.


SHUBERT: And in turn, Israeli security forces have cracked down, cutting off all access to Palestinian Territories and conducting raids especially

across the West Bank. Some of them of have turned deadly.

And in particular, the refugee camp area of Jenin, this is where, of course, Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was reporting. She was

actually covering one of those raids when she was shot and killed.

Her funeral, of course, was on Friday. So there is, unfortunately, this rising tensions and the most recent unrest that we have seen is simply a

continuation of that.

GIOKOS: A terrible cycle of violence, Atika, thank you so much for bringing us those details. Staying in region, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the

Iran backed group and its allies, have lost their parliamentary majority. Sunday's election has delivered gains to their rivals against the backdrop

of the economic meltdown.

You'll know from watching this program, the U.N. and World Bank blaming Lebanon's ruling elite for the economic collapse, considered one of the

world's worst since the mid 19th century century. We have Ben Wedeman covering the story for us. He is, of course, been a correspondent in

Lebanon for decades. He joins us now from Beirut.

Ben, you have seen so many of these cycles. How significant is it that we have seen Hezbollah seats lost to more liberal parties, more opposition

parties. It is been quite a fascinating turn of events.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is important to stress that Hezbollah itself actually didn't lose any seats. It is the

members of its coalition that under the previous parliament had 71 seats. And now it appears that they are down to 60. That is out of a 128 seat

Lebanese parliament.

What we saw was many Hezbollah allies, particularly, pro Syrian candidates, were booted out. And also, its main Christian ally, the Free Patriotic

movement, also lost seats as well.

Interestingly also, as many as or perhaps even more, 12 reformist candidates, many of them affiliated with the October 2019 uprising here,

have gained seats. That is a surprising development, simply because, during the election campaign, there were many candidates, perhaps a fifth of the

total number, who are affiliated or identifying as independent or affiliated with the uprising.

And the fear was that the reformist tickets, so to speak, were so many that they were just divided. And the traditional parties would get their vote.

But it seems that they have done fairly well.

It does appear as of today that Hezbollah has taken a bit of a blow in terms of no longer having a coalition -- or rather a parliamentary

majority. But Lebanon now faces a prolonged period of stalemate because there isn't any one bloc or coalition that is able to get a majority.

So we are in danger of having a hung parliament. And even under the best of circumstances, in recent years, it is taken a very long time to form

government. After the last parliamentary elections in May of 2018, it took nine months to form the next government.

Lebanon at this point in the midst of this intense economic crisis, where you have seen the GDP cut by more than half and unemployment spiraling and,

for instance, people -- I cannot tell you how many doctors and professors and skilled people have left the country.

Lebanon does not have the time to wait until the politicians can actually form a functioning, proper government. Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes, Ben we will be speaking more in-depth in the next hour. And thank you so much, for setting the scene for us.

All right, let's get you up to speed now on some other stories that are on our radar.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban are dissolving a number of key departments, including the country's human rights commission and national security

council. A spokesperson tells us the departments were, quote, "not being used and may be rebuilt in the future if necessary."

North Korea has released the first specific figures on its COVID outbreak, since acknowledging the first case last week. Health officials told state

TV, there's been 168 confirmed COVID-19 infections.


GIOKOS: State media have reported 1.4 million cases of, quote, "fevers" in 56 days.

Shanghai health officials say the only COVID infections are happening within quarantine zones. And they are promising a gradual reopening in

three phases. But discontent is running high and many residents remain skeptical that heavy-handed lockdown rules will be lifted.

Meanwhile, American businesses in China say Beijing's zero COVID policies are worsening supply chain issues and crippling revenue streams. Multiple

Chinese cities remain under some form of lockdown. And CNN's Selina Wang reports, that is causing a global logjam.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the world's factory shuts down, it ripples around the globe. China's COVID lockdowns are

jamming ports, choking off supply chains and increasing costs for companies. That leaves American and global consumers waiting longer to get

their goods and paying more for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is going to be a painful time on prices from goods, coming to America from China. And that is a lot of goods.

WANG (voice-over): Shanghai, China's manufacturing and financial powerhouse, now a ghost town. Unused factories have been turned into

quarantine centers. At this one on the outskirts of Shanghai, medical trash bags are used to protect their beds from the rain. Some offices, now

makeshift hospitals.

The world's largest container port in Shanghai's been running at about half of its capacity for more than a month. One in five container ships are now

stuck at ports worldwide, according to Windward, and about 28 percent of the backlog is coming from China.

Shipments from China to the U. S. are taking 74 days longer than usual, according to the Royal Bank of Canada, with no end to the delays in sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These will take a lot longer. If you thought it was bad in 2021, it is going to get worse in 2022.

WANG (voice-over): At least 31 cities in China are under full or partial lockdown, impacting up to 214 million people. American companies from Apple

to Amazon, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and General Electric have blamed China's lockdowns for squeezing earnings.

Foxconn, a major Apple supplier, temporarily halted production at the factory for a few days in March. Pegatron, an iPhone assembler, suspended

operations in two plants in April. CEO Tim Cook said last month that China's lockdowns, along with the global chip shortage, could reduce

quarterly sales by as much as $8 billion.

But for small businesses, this is make or break it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My last order that I shipped to the United States, took about four to five months. We went over a month without making like any

money as a business. We have also lost money, from people wanting to place orders and not being able to ship them.

I am terrified. I am literally, I am terrified that Black Shades could be over.

WANG (voice-over): Some factories have remained open by putting workers in a bubble, with staff working and living in the factory. Social media video

showed workers at Apple and Tesla supplier Quanta jumping over factory gates, a mass of workers protesting COVID prevention measures at the

factory, underscoring how hard it is to keep factories open.

For decades, relying on China has kept prices for American consumers low. And, now that might be changing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be short term and long term things like zero COVID that could knock you over. So you have got to move some production

out of China.

WANG (voice-over): China's leadership is doubling down on its zero COVID strategy, despite the devastating impact on the country's economy. A

slowdown in China will be felt around the world -- Selina Wang, CNN, China.


GIOKOS: Up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, hunting for Russian spies. CNN goes along with Ukraine's most secretive police force.

Once again, a U.S. President is called upon to provide solace in the wake of another mass shooting. We are live in Buffalo, New York, after the






GIOKOS: Welcome back. I am Eleni Giokos in Abu Dhabi. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Let's get you up to speed on some major developments

happening right now in Ukraine.

We are getting video of Ukrainian soldiers evacuating from the Azovstal steel plant as Ukraine ends the fight to defend Mariupol. Those are the

pictures coming through right now. We have been discussing the steel plant for many weeks now.

Finally there is some movement. Ukrainians had been sheltering there for weeks. Many carried combatants on stretchers as they left the area. Ukraine

says that forces are advancing in the east, especially around the city of Kharkiv.

The Ukrainian military provided these images of destroyed Russian tanks in the area. There is word of renewed Russian shelling in the west and central

parts of Ukraine. Russian missiles hit railway infrastructure close to the border with Poland.

And there were some strikes near the Lviv and north of Kyiv. While fighting continues there, there is another side to the war that is also playing a

role in gains and losses. Espionage in Eastern Ukraine, Ukraine's secret police are hard at work. They are rooting out people that they say are

Russian spies. Sam Kiley went along on a spy hunt for this exclusive report.


KILEY: This is the former headquarters of the SBU, that's the secret police effectively of Ukraine. Now it was hit right at the beginning of the

war with an airstrike.

Clearly from the Russian perspective, this is an immediate necessity to knock out the SBU's capacity here in Kramatorsk because it is from this

location that the counter intelligence operation would have been run.

KILEY (voice-over): We've been working on him for about four days. We have a complete picture of his actions said Serhey (ph). This is Ukraine's most

secretive force, the equivalent of the FBI. And then some.

Serhey (ph) says we have identified a person who according to our intelligence is committing a crime. Simply put this is a person who

transmits to the Russian side, the Russian military information about the locations of our units. They're snatched team with orders to grab an

alleged Russian spy.

The SBU says that spies feed a stream of information on troop movements and details of targets to Russia's aircraft and artillery.

In this region, the SBU says it catches one or two agents run by Russia every day.

And today's suspect is being watched. His ours. There he goes, having a smoke. All units green pants, black sweatshirt, 1,000.

Special Forces sweeping resistance.

Two Ukrainians are asked to witness the interrogation. Without camera present protocols are followed to the letter.


KILEY (voice-over): He's told why he's arrested for high treason during martial law and confesses on the spot to spying. He says that he was

allegedly recruited online gets orders via a messaging app from someone called Nikolai.

The suspect says that he got about $10 for his alleged spying, which included the locations of Ukrainian military units in the town. According

to an alleged exchange between him and his handler, the suspect was arrested mid mission.

There's no death penalty for traitors here. But as he's driven through these gates, he'll know that if tried and convicted, he could spend a

lifetime behind bars.

Serhey's (ph) hometown is under constant Russian bombardment. So for him, this is no small victory.

Russia is hitting us with missiles, rockets and air raids. These missiles hit the coordinates which are transmitted by these criminals. People die in

these attacks, soldiers and civilians. But he adds, the more atrocities the Russians commit, the harder it's getting for the Kremlin to recruit local

spies -- Sam Kiley, CNN, in Slovyansk.


GIOKOS: All right. Any moment now, we are going to have President Biden and his wife pay their respects to the victims for the Buffalo shooting. He

is expected to meet with victims, first responders and the families of the victims.

On Saturday, a gunman opened fire at the Tops market in a predominantly Black neighborhood. The suspect had been planning his attack for months.

Now the country is left to deal with yet another mass shooting motivated by hate. Shimon Prokupecz is joining us live from Buffalo with this story.

It is obviously a very shocking and a harrowing story. The fact that you have actually seen the perpetrator posting his intentions online, that must

be having quite an effect on the community.

How did this happen?


Why wasn't more dying to try and stop this?

Why didn't someone see the social media posts beforehand?

It is very complicated. But for the families, for the people who live in the community, it is not that complicated. They feel like more could have

been done. We keep learning from investigators here that the alleged shooter was here in March. They had information that he was here in March.

They found that on his own postings.

They know that he was here the day before the shooting, on Friday. He was doing what they called reconnaissance. He was checking out the location. He

was talking about the security guard inside the store. He talked about other people that he interacted with inside the store.

So investigators are trying to figure out if there are any other visits here from this alleged shooter. The president and first lady are coming

here today to console the families and victims who are suffering so, so much because of this incident.

The other thing we are being told is that the president is going to call out some of the racist words, the hate that we are seeing across the

country. This also goes to talk about some of the legislation that he thinks Congress needs to pass in order to prevent certain kinds of people

from getting their hands on guns.

In this situation, police have said that the alleged shooter purchased the guns legally. There was nothing to indicate in any way that they were

obtained illegally.

The other question is when the federal hate crime charges will be filed against the alleged shooter. We expect to see that in the coming days.

GIOKOS: Shimon, thank you so very much for that update. We will be watching closely.

President Biden and his wife are expected to arrive shortly in Buffalo, New York.

Still to come, if you don't succeed at first, you should try and try again. It seems like Tiger Woods has taken this advice to heart. Details on the

sports update. That is coming up.





GIOKOS: It is a rare sight these days. But Queen Elizabeth II made an appearance at Paddington Station in Central London. Her Majesty was opening

a train line named after her, the Elizabeth line, wearing a bright yellow outfit and carrying an ebony stick to help her with her current mobility


She smiled while unveiling a plaque. In just two weeks, the queen will celebrate her platinum jubilee as 70 years as monarch. What a great run.