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Inside the Hospitals That Concealed Russian Casualties; U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Iran over Violent Crackdown on Protests; Challenges Ahead for New U.K. PM; Ukraine Tells Refugees Not to Return This Winter; Nigerians Forced to Use Floodwater Despite Cholera Risk. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 26, 2022 - 10:00   ET





LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Freedom, freedom, freedom, protests and a day for in Iran. Plus --



ANDREI, DOCTOR, MAZYR CITY HOSPITAL (through translator): I wanted to tell their stories. I just took some evidence to confirm it. But what I took

with me could make me liable. They can charge me with espionage.

KINKADE (voice-over): One doctor's brazen plan to expose the Russian casualties, following battlefields in Ukraine.

What did the Kremlin hide from the world at the outset of the war?

And --



LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "We have really suffered," she says, "tell the government to help us."

KINKADE (voice-over): Houses and roads still inundated with water in the worst flooding Nigeria has seen in years.



KINKADE: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. Good to have you with us.

We begin in Iran. Protests sparked by the death of a woman in the custody of the morality police have entered day 40. Chants of "freedom, freedom,

freedom," continue on the streets of the capital. Iran's security forces have responded with tear gas.

Videos posted on social media show the continuing turmoil in Iran 40 days after the passing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody after

being arrested for failing to adhere to the regime's strict dress code; 40 days is the traditional mourning period and an important marker for the

people of Islamic faith.

CNN's Nada Bashir has more on how the protests turned into a movement and an uprising against the regime.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The final resting place of Mahsa Amini, a place of mourning and, now, of protest.

Amini's name has become synonymous with a movement that is posing the biggest threat to the Iranian regime in years, sparked in the wake of the

22-year old's death while in the custody of Iran's notorious morality police.

Detained for allegedly contravening the country's strict dress code. But now, as the Iranian people commemorate 40 days since Amini's death, a

significant mark of both mourning and remembrance, the movement has grown into something far more wide reaching than its initial call for women's


FIRUZAH MAHMOUDI, UNITED FOR IRAN: It was a protest that quickly turned into a movement and an uprising and some, of course, say that there is

definitely components of beginning parts of a revolution.

BASHIR: And how important is Mahsa Amini's legacy in really driving forward this protest movement?

MAHMOUDI: Jina's death was a spark that led to this massive fire, right that we are seeing across the country. That initial protest was not even

about hijab. It was of course about, that but that is much more than that.

It's about body autonomy. It's about gender equality. It's about basic rights, of leading the life we want and not being oppressed, half of the

population being oppressed by the government.

BASHIR (voice-over): Amini's name is now remembered alongside a growing list of women who've lost their lives at the hands of Iran's security

forces. The authorities deny responsibility, disregarding the mounting evidence of the regime's brutal and deadly crackdown on protesters.

TARA SEPEHRI FAR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: We have use of air paintball guns, shotguns with metal or plastic pellets and also instances of use of assault

weapons, assault rifles, clashing or style weapons or even handguns that have been documented.

BASHIR (voice-over): This, in addition to the mass detention of hundreds, if not thousands of protesters.

Six weeks on, however, and the movement isn't losing steam with protests gripping the country's universities and high schools and historic action by

teachers, business owners, factory workers, even oil refinery workers, the backbone of Iran's economy.

The call for reform and for regime change is only growing louder.



KINKADE: CNN's Nada Bashir joins us now from London.

Good to have you, so 40 days of protests. Hundreds of people reportedly killed. Today, protesters out again today. Many at the cemetery, where

Mahsa Amini is buried, defying security forces once again.

BASHIR: Absolutely. It is remarkable seeing just how many people have taken to the streets and also marched to the cemetery where Mahsa Amini is

buried, to pay their respects but also to continue the weeks of protest we have seen against the Iranian regime.

As the report says, this is no longer just about women's rights, though this continues to be a central focus of the protest movement. Really, this

has grown into something far greater.

This has really gained momentum and we are now hearing chance for regime change in many of these protests. And in response, the crackdown continues

to be brutal and it continues to be deadly.

Just in the last few hours, we've seen video of anti riot units now marching on Tehran. We've seen Iranian security forces present, in several

locations across the country, particularly the country's universities,, where there have been days and days of demonstrations, protests, marches

held by the students there.

They are not going to classes. They are protesting against the regime. You could even see students at at least two universities now protesting head on

with the Iranian government's spokesperson, chanting those anti-regime messages that we heard over the last few weeks.

That crackdown is continuing to intensify. We've heard from human rights groups like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, detailing this use

of excessive and lethal force.

We heard from one human rights organization based in Norway, Iran HR, which has been tallying its own death toll, though it is difficult for CNN to

independently verify that the death toll. They've pegged the number at at least 230 people so far, although some say that figure could likely be


It is difficult to completely verify that figure. We've heard, of course, also of the mass detentions of protesters across the country. We've heard

from the Iranian public prosecutor, saying, according to state media, they have now charged more than 300 protesters for allegedly threatening state


They say, according to state media, that at least 1,000 protesters have now been detained since these demonstrations began in September. Also, we heard

from human rights organizations, including The Committee to Protect Journalists. They warned that figure could be much, much higher.

KINKADE: Forty days of protests and they certainly are continuing. Interesting seeing those riot police on the streets of the capital. Nada

Bashir, good to have you with us.

And you can read more on Iran and find other news from the Middle East in our "Meanwhile in the Middle East" newsletter. Just scroll down to find out

how Iran is facing a dilemma as children join in the protests. You will also see updates on other major stories from the region. You can sign up by

going to

Well, Britain's new prime minister enjoyed a warm welcome in Parliament a short time ago. During his first session of Prime Minister's Questions, the

gloves did come off. Rishi Sunak was challenged to call a general election.

Instead, the new PM told lawmakers that difficult decisions must be made to restore economic stability. At one point, Mr. Sunak was accused of not

being on the side of working people. Here's what he had to say.


RISHI SUNAK, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, my record is clear. Where times are difficult in this country, I will always protect the most

vulnerable. That is (INAUDIBLE) the party. We did it in COVID and we will do that again.


KINKADE: Just before the PM's grilling in Parliament, his finance minister, Jeremy Hunt, announced a key fiscal statement would be delayed

until next month. It's also worth noting Mr. Sunak is facing pressure over the controversial return of his home secretary. CNN's Bianca Nobilo is

watching all of this from London and joins us now live.

Good to see you, Bianca. So Rishi Sunak facing his first Prime Minister's Questions. He seemed confident. He seemed relaxed on the front foot.

How would you describe his performance?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Lynda, we've seen a sharp trajectory progress from Sunak since he spoke to the Conservative campaign

headquarters after it was announced he had become the prime minister.

That was quite shaky. There was some criticism of that. Yesterday, he spoke behind the podium as prime minister for the first time. It was competent.

It was serious but no flourish and not too much charisma.

Today, he faced the House of Commons for the first time as prime minister. The mood was rambunctious, as viewers got a little taste off in the clip

you played and he was competent. His responses were sharp.


NOBILO: And key to all of this was the fact that he commanded via 30 of the benches behind him. There was a lot of cheering and support. We expect

this on the first day, of course, the Conservative Party if they can't unite for a first Prime Minister's Questions. There are in even deeper

trouble than we thought.

But nonetheless, he did give a good performance. It was interesting to see how he faced off against the Labour opposition leader, Keir Starmer,

because both men have similarities in terms of their communication style. They are known to be serious, have a good grasp on details.

And a brief and after Starmer congratulated Sunak for being the first prime minister of Asian heritage, the gloves did come off and he continues to

push for that general election. Let's take a listen.


KEIR STARMER, U.K. LABOUR LEADER: Even his own side know he is not on the side of working people. That's why the only time he ran in a competitive

election, he got trounced by the former prime minister, who herself got beaten by a lettuce.


STARMER: So why doesn't he put it to the test?

Let working people have their say and call a general election.



NOBILO: What shifted today was whereas the previous Prime Minister's Questions on the last days of the Boris Johnson premiership and onto Liz

Truss seemed like a one-sided fight, essentially, Labour scoring all of the points, managing to land all of their attack lines, today, it felt more

like a contest or a duel again.

These two leaders facing off against each other, being competent in similar areas.

KINKADE: Certainly highly entertaining, as always. Bianca Nobilo, thank you so much.

Well, gas prices are falling and fuel storage tanks are nearly full.

Does this mean the end of Europe's energy crisis is in sight?

We're going to take a look.

Plus, a doctor who treated Russian troops across the border in Belarus speaks to CNN. In this exclusive report, he details the chaos and the

trauma he witnessed.




KINKADE: Welcome back.

A pregnant woman was one of two civilians killed when Russians attacked Dnipro in central Ukraine overnight. Ukrainian officials also say four

people were injured in the missile strike, which caused a gas station to catch fire.

The furor over nuclear weapons continues, U.S. President Joe Biden is warning Russia that it would be a serious mistake to escalate the war by

using tactical nuclear weapons. Though American officials say they see no evidence Russia is planning such a move.

It follows Moscow's claim that Kyiv is planning to use a dirty bomb an allegation Western leaders have called false. All of this as Ukraine asks

its citizens who have fled the country not to return home until spring, to avoid putting more pressure on the country's failing power grid.


KINKADE: We'll get you more from our Nic Robertson on the ground in the capital, in just a moment.

But right now, we are getting a rare look at a different side of the war. The Russian casualties that have been shrouded in secrecy until now. Have a

look at these.


KINKADE (voice-over): The X-rays from a doctor who treated Russian soldiers in a Belarusian hospital. He fled with this evidence to expose the

brutal cost of Russia's war on its own troops.

Soldiers who lost jaws, fingers or legs and were taken across the border to civilian hospitals in Belarus and told not to speak about it. Our Melissa

Bell has the details in this exclusive report.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For Andrei, it was the hardest of goodbyes.

"I love you," he tells his daughters as he prepares to swim for his life.

"Is Daddy leaving? asks one.

"Yes, he replies."

The young doctor from southern Belarus had just driven his family across the country from their home near the Ukrainian border. Andrei then swam

into the safety of neighboring Lithuania running from a war that wasn't his.

Fleeing with X-rays of some of the Russian soldiers he treated as the war began. The ghosts of Vladimir Putin's war machine.

ANDREI (through translator): I wanted to tell their stories. I just took some evidence to confirm it. But what I took with me could make me liable.

They can charge me with espionage.

BELL: With the state of the Russian army, its defeats and its casualties a closely guarded secret, these images are a rare window onto Russia's

catastrophic invasion.

On February 24th, the first day of the war, Russian forces landed at this airport on the outskirts of Kyiv. The fight that ensued was brutal.

Ukrainian counter offensives inflicted devastating casualties on the Russian paratroopers. Many wound up in Mazyr City Hospital in southern


ANDREI (through translator): Most had blast injuries, injured hips, face, lacerations to the torso area, head, brain injuries. Several had damage to

their jaws.

BELL: Andrei says that many of the injuries he treated were consistent with soldiers coming under unexpected and chaotic fire power.

ANDREI (through translator): They saw a lot of explosions and couldn't even see who was firing on them. Some of them told us they'd gone through

hell. They didn't expect what was waiting for them in Ukraine.

They thought they were going in for military exercises. They were mainly angry at the commander who had deceived them, most already were resigned to

their new reality, losing a finger or a leg.

BELL: The trucks used to transport the wounded shared at the time on social media. Andrei says they arrived at night bringing 30 soldiers on the

second day of the war, 90 on the third.

ANDREI (through translator): They came from Borodyanka, some from Hostomel and others from Bucha. A number was written on the forehead of each to

direct them to the right department. At least the ones who were admitted had a good chance of surviving.

There was one guy who was missing his entire lower jaw and he was only complaining that he hadn't eaten or drunk anything for three days.

BELL: But the soldiers kept arriving. Andrei says about 40 a day on average. The wounds easier for him to remember than the names, although

one, in particular, does stand out.

One of the early narratives of the start of the war was the number of commanders that were being lost on the Russian side. Several wound up in

Mazyr District Hospital, including General Sergei Nyrkov.

ANDREI (through translator): He suffered abdominal trauma from a mine explosion in Chernobyl, so we treated him and then after he was stabilized,

he was taken away with the other officers. I felt disgust toward these officers. Mainly the feeling was that they were war criminals.

BELL: Mostly Andrei says, the men were ordinary soldiers, very young and inexperienced 18-, 19-, 20-year olds who would spend a couple of days in

his hospital before being sent back to Russia. Their lives saved but changed forever.

ANDREI (through translator): I had the impression that only a small portion of the soldiers sent actually made it out alive into our hospital.

I had a feeling that some of the living envied those who had died.

BELL: Andrei is now rebuilding his own life with his family in a European city with what little they could bring. Mainly the X-rays hidden in one of

his daughter's toys to be brought to safety and now to light.


KINKADE: Melissa Bell joins us live from Paris.

Such an interesting report, Melissa.


KINKADE: Russian hospitals concealing the true nature and the number of Russian casualties.

What else did this young doctor tell you about the cost of this war?

I imagine there are other doctors like him, doing exactly the same in Belarus.

BELL: That's right. We had the opportunity to speak to another doctor, also from a civilian hospital in southern Belarus, who told us a very

similar story. It allowed us to check a lot of what Andrei had told us and the stories lined up.

It speaks to how ill fated and ill prepared this invasion was from the start, from the Russian side at least, Lynda, since these young men, these

young soldiers who were rushed back across the border to Belarus could have been treated in many field hospitals created on the edge of that border.

Instead, they were taken to these civilian hospitals and treated by Belarusian doctors. Life, of course, in Alexander Lukashenko's Belarus is

not easy at the best of times. Andrei there, that you heard from, fled after being in prison for 1.5 months on trumped up corruption charges.

Already, civil liberties were endangered, often set aside. There have been, of course, since the violent putdown of the protests in 2020, countless

cases of arbitrary imprisonment and torture.

But what happened in these particular parts of southern Belarus, where there's 30,000 troops stationed for military exercises ahead of that

invasion, taking part actively and crossing the border, of course, changed things even further.

As you heard in that report, the atmosphere in the hospital made even doctors, since the doctors there were forced to signed NDAs, told not to

speak of what they saw, not to take photographs, the atmosphere that was dark enough in the country became darker still, Lynda.

KINKADE: Melissa, to you and your team on such a compelling report. Melissa Bell for us in Paris.

Well, much of Europe may finally be getting a break from the energy crisis, triggered by Russia's war in Ukraine. Gas prices have fallen sharply as

winter approaches, due in part to fuel storage tanks reaching capacity and mild temperatures.

Another possible reprieve could be on the horizon. A Czech minister says his counterparts in the European Union are on board with supporting a price

cap on gas and electricity. It is still split on how to do it.

Anna Stewart is following the developments and joins us now from London.

Good to have you with us, Anna. So natural gas prices plunging in Europe. The benchmark more than 70 percent below that high we saw back in August.

Just explain why.

And could this continue going into winter?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unfortunately, not in terms of continuing to see gas prices at this sort of level. It has been quite extraordinary,

if you look at the gas price at the moment in terms of the European benchmarks.

We're looking at a price we haven't actually seen since mid June, which was when Russia stopped or at least started to reduce its supplies of gas

through the Nord Stream pipeline. Actually, early this week, gas delivery within an hour went into negative territory, in terms of the price. Mark

Why won't we see this continue?

Frankly, Europe right now almost has more gas than it knows what to do with. To a certain extent, this is a success story. It's been hard to

procure gas from elsewhere in time for winter. It wanted to see storage facilities across Europe 80 percent full for November. It smashed that.

Gas storage facilities are over 90 percent at this stage. It also shows you Europe's limitations. They can't really take in much more. It's also very

limited when it comes to LNG, in terms of infrastructure.

When we look at some data from Vortexet (ph), about 35 LNG vessels are thought to be hovering, floating around Europe, waiting to be taken in. If

we look at gas prices for December, January, February, the futures market, you can see gas prices are going to go far. Up so it's good news for now

but this will not continue.

KINKADE: All right. Yes, some good news indeed. Anna Stewart, good to see you. Good to see you've got that pink jacket on today.

STEWART: We are on point.

KINKADE: Thank you so much. We'll chat soon.

I want to turn now to the latest developments on the ground in Ukraine. Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson, joins us now live from Kyiv.

Good to see you. So I understand you have interviewed the chief of defense of intelligence in Ukraine, asking specifically about Russia's claim that

Ukraine has a dirty bomb and it is ready to use it.

What did he tell you?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's very interesting. He thinks what Russia is engaged in at the moment is

posturing, to put pressure on Ukraine through its NATO partners, to pressure Ukraine to move toward peace talks.

Which, of course, neither its partners are ready to do, nor is Ukraine itself. In fact, he reiterated what we've heard a number of times from

Ukrainian officials over recent months.


ROBERTSON: Ukraine won't negotiate with Russia until Russia has pulled back to the 1991 borders, respected Ukraine's sovereignty; that is,

withdrawn from positions it's occupied since the 2014 invasion back then.

But on the issue of a dirty bomb in Ukraine, having one, it's very, very clear when I asked him about that.


GENERAL KYRYLO BUDANOV, CHIEF, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE (through translator): This is a question that became something of a joke. And my

answer is direct. We are not getting prepared. We are not working on a dirty bomb.

ROBERTSON: Ukraine has invited the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to come here.

When are they due to arrive?

Where will they go?

And when do you expect the results?

BUDANOV (through translator): We are absolutely supporting the visitors of the IAEA mission and we are waiting for them. We are waiting for them to

visit all nuclear facilities.

ROBERTSON: And Russia has identified two sites, a science academy here in Kyiv and a mining facility in the center of Ukraine.

How important is it to you that the IAEA inspectors very quickly clear Ukraine of all these baseless Russian allegations?

BUDANOV (through translator): The sooner they come, the better things will be.


ROBERTSON: Yes, he had a lot more to say as well. One of the points he made about the IAEA should go to all nuclear sites in Ukraine is their

Zaporizhzhya site, the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya, it's Ukrainian but currently controlled by Russia's military.

And Ukrainian officials say they're concerned that Russia may be doing things, untoward things with spent fuel rods there, creating a danger.

Interestingly as well, though his assessment the president Putin at the moment is that Putin doesn't want to escalate this to a nuclear level,

doesn't want to use a tactical nuke, it is all about posturing.

And I think it's very informative, particularly when we see today, President Putin has been sort of hands-on overseeing Russia's annual

missile testing and military testing exercises in the east of Russia.

KINKADE: Great to get that interview with the chief of defense for intelligence. Thanks for joining us from Kyiv, Nic Robertson.

Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom says using nuclear weapons in this war is out of the question. Andrey Kelin discussed Russia's options

with CNN's chief international, Christiane Amanpour. You can catch the full interview on "AMANPOUR" later today. That is at 6 pm in London, 9 pm in Abu


Still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, cut off, inundated and angry: we are going to go live to Nigeria's delta region where people caught in the

floods are pleading for government help.





KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade, at the CNN Center in Atlanta. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, good to have you with us.

We want to go now to a disaster we've been watching play out in southern Nigeria. Weeks after the worst flooding in a decade, houses and roads are

still inundated and more rain is on the way.

The floods so far have killed some 600 people and driven more than 1 million others from their homes. Compounding the woes, a spike in suspected

cases of cholera. Aid is coming in but many say not quickly enough. CNN's Larry Madowo joins us from one of the hardest hit areas.

Good to have you there for us, Larry. So this flooding began back in September. Now it impacts the majority of the country, displacing over 1

million people and some living with next to no government assistance, many blaming what is a poor disaster response?

MADOWO: There's a good deal of anger here about the government's response to this flooding, Lynda. They feel that the government ignored any sort of

advanced forecasting about more than expected rainfall. And then, after the flooding happened, the response has been lackluster at best.

So why that anger here?

Because of the situation. Look at this. This is the capital of this state in southern Nigeria. It's an oil rich state and yet, this is the state of

its capital for weeks now. The warning is that there could be even more rain until the end of November, before it starts to get better.

People are having to adapt to living in a city that's turned into a lake. One of the most harrowing stories here is we've seen bodies floating here

in this waters, from the nearby cemetery.

That's why they feel the government should have done more. Part of the reason is because the government has not declared this a national

emergency, even though, it quite clearly looks like an emergency, when you have a major city the size of Philadelphia looking like. This

The other danger is there is a fear of people here catching cholera, other waterborne diseases, completely preventable diseases. Because so many

people were displaced, they are at a higher risk of food insecurity, because their crops have been wiped out, their livelihoods have been wiped

out, their homes submerged, some up to the roof.

They are depending on aid just to get by. Watch.


MADOWO: Our community's still submerged nearly a month after the flooding began with no end in sight. Boats have become the only way to get around

much of Bayelsa States in southern Nigeria. The streets have turned to rivers, driving entire communities away from their homes.

Mama Obi (ph) takes us to what is left over her home. The water is still waist high.

MADOWO (voice-over): "We have really suffered," she says, "tell the government to help us."

MADOWO: Everything you own is here under the water and this your house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, lots. So everything.

MADOWO: Some are living rough on the streets, washing with this water, cooking with it and bathing in it. Even though people's homes and

businesses and livelihoods are already submerged, it's still raining and there's more expected.

The Nigerian government is warning this could go on through November. So even more of this.

This is Nigeria's worst flooding in a decade. Aniso Handy has remained in his house through it all.

ANISO HANDY, FLOOD VICTIM: Nigerians are used to manage, if not would've all died. We have not seen a situation where people are not cared for. But

Nigerians care for themselves. We are just like infants that have no father, no mother.

MADOWO: The feeling of abandonment runs deep here. Victims are disappointed with the Nigerian government's response which hasn't declared

the flood and national emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not comfortable and now they fear for (INAUDIBLE) sick.

MADOWO: We're next to the local cemetery and residents have reported seeing bodies floating here in this water. This flood has displaced not

just the living, also the dead. The floods have affected 33 of Nigeria's 36 states, partly due to well above average rainfall.

Bayelsa is among those cut off from the nation with major highways underwater.


The situation has been exacerbated by poor drainage infrastructure and an overflowing dam in neighboring Cameroon but with a warmer climate causing

more intense rainfall authorities have also blamed it on climate change. Angering some Nigerians.

In this community though, there are more short-term consequences. So you are worried about the children mostly.

NDIA OKAZI, FLOOD VICTIM: Yes. My children they're not going to school again. Now when (INAUDIBLE) me.

MADOWO: It's a tough life to navigate for humans and animals alike. But life must go on.


MADOWO: Primary and secondary schools have been closed in the state for at least two weeks. No sign when they will reopen. Most government offices are

closed as well, because people are having to deal with this.

People can't go to school. We went to one school in that report. The school is completely submerged. The water gets all the way over the top of the

football goalposts.

So that's how serious it is. What's happening here is very similar to what we saw in Pakistan a short while ago. And that is why climate change is

often called the multiplier effect.

Though, some Nigerians are unhappy about the government blaming this on climate change, because they think it is just plain negligence.

The fact that the Nigerian government has not declared this a national emergency tells them that they feel the government says it's overwhelmed

but clearly it is overwhelmed and should do more to save the livelihood of the people here, because once water recedes, it is very likely they will

find more bodies under this rubble.

These lives have been devastating across not just this state in Nigeria but 33 out of 36 states.

KINKADE: Incredible devastation. As you say, similar to those floods we saw in Pakistan. Earlier this year, described as a wake up call by climate

experts. We will be following the COP27 climate change summit in the following weeks.

Larry Madowo, good to have you with us.

We are going to take a quick break. Stay with. Us you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.