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Quake Survivors Have Mixed Feelings on Presidential Race; Islamic Jihad Targets Israeli Cities with New Rocket Attacks; Russians Acknowledge Pullback North of Bakhmut; Major Shift in Immigration Rules as Title 42 Expires; Suffering Economy a Key Issue in Presidential Election; Thailand Prepares for Pivotal General Election; Wagner Group Leader on Edge as Ukraine Makes Progress in Bakhmut. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 12, 2023 - 10:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Julia Chatterley, live in New York, in for Becky Anderson. And this is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up this hour. Turkey's presidential candidates are holding final rallies ahead of Sunday's critical vote. Israel strikes more militant

targets while further rockets are fired from Gaza. Imran Khan leaves court in Pakistan after being granted bail. And U.S. border towns are on edge as

Title 42 ends.

Welcome once again to CONNECT THE WORLD. And we begin in Turkey, where the main presidential candidates are making their final appeals to voters ahead

of Sunday's high stakes election. Right now polls show opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu with a slight lead over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kilicdaroglu who paints the voters a choice between pushing democracy forward or a continuation of rule by a one-man regime. President Erdogan's

supporters view him as a defender of democracy and civilian government, who has stopped Turkey's military from interfering in politics.

As Jomana Karadsheh tells us, this election is happening in the long shadow of February's devastating earthquake.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Few are the tombstones that identify the dead. They call it the Cemetery of the Unknown, where

more than 4,000 victims of Turkey's catastrophic quake are buried. Some of the youngest lie here, with poignant clues left for those still searching

for their missing loved ones.

Time has yet to heal the wounds of the broken city of Antakya and its people. Life amid the ruins a mere existence in this deserted town where

elections and campaign promises are overshadowed by despair. Grief and pain still so raw for those who survived, left only to mourn.

Meltem lost her mother, father, sister, brother, little nieces, and the hardest loss of all, her only child.


KARADSHEH: Little Elan (ph) had just turned 6, he was with his cousins for a sleepover when the earthquake hit. Meltem and her husband Ayhan dug

through the rubble with their bare hands. The three longest days of their lives ended when an Italian search and rescue team recovered the lifeless

bodies of their boy and the rest of the family.

CAINMOGLU: They killed them all.

KARADSHEH: The couple, like thousands of others, blame their tragedy on the state's initial chaotic slow response and on shoddy construction and

government amnesties for contractors who violated building codes. On Sunday, they'll take their anger to the ballot box.

Over the years they stole our future from us, now our loved ones were taken away from us, Ayhan says. Elections is our only way to hold officials to

account. We hope to slam the doors of hell shut.

Anger may not translate into any major surprises at the polls in this city historically split between the opposition and ruling party, but the stakes

are much higher in strongholds of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party across the massive earthquake zone. There was no time wasted to win back

the hearts and minds of their people like in places like Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the devastating quake.

This hilltop project with a dozen newly constructed homes was inaugurated by the Turkish president. A kind of photo op Erdogan needed in the wake of

the disaster.

(On-camera): The era of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been defined by construction boom. And he's promised to re-build the earthquake zone within

a year. And this is what the opposition is up against. Convincing people that they too can deliver.

(Voice-over): Thousands of subsidized housing units are under construction here, more rebuilding in the city center that's rumbled back to life. But

beneath the facade of normalcy, a reality of life in limbo.

Mealtime brings hundred into the food cues. Those who've lost everything now rely on their state to feed them. Most still live in tents. But not

even the worst earthquake in generation seems to have shaken the loyalty of Erdogan supporters. And they are keen to show us as they waved his party's

flag. As long as Tayyip Erdogan is in power, our houses will be built, this man tells us.


Down the road the city's old bazaar is bustling once again. Quake survivors struggling to get back on their feet. Now also facing their country's

crushing economic crisis. The 69-year-old once Erdogan supporter says he's boycotting the vote. They see him as a saint, that it's too much he says. I

can't afford to buy anything. I survived on earthquake aid.

A cafe nearby is the only escape from it all for students like 18-year-old Ziya. He's a first-time voter but hasn't decided he'll case his vote.

Should we worry about elections, or about that collapsed buildings, or lives last, he says. About what surrounds us or my dreams?

Confusion, apathy, loyalty, anger, it's just all too much for those still trapped in a lie from hell. They can only hope when the dust settles from

this most consequential of elections. They won't be forgotten.


CHATTERLEY: And Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from Istanbul.

Jomana, good to have you with us. It's a familiar theme that I'm seeing in terms of news reports, but not often with Turkey, perhaps other nations.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu is accusing Russia of election interference just, what, two days out from this election. What more can you tell us about those


KARADSHEH: Well, Julia, just a bit of background, yesterday one of the four candidates running in this presidential election, Muharrem Ince who

ran in 2018 against President Erdogan and lost, at the time he was the main opposition candidate. He broke away from the main opposition party, the

CHP, and ran with his own party this time. And he was seen as a bit of a spoiler really, taking votes away from the main opposition coalition.

He came out yesterday with a surprise announcement saying that he was withdrawing from the race after what he described as a campaign of slander.

This is coming after some lurid allegations had been circulating online in the past couple of days here in Turkey. And then we heard from the

presidential candidate for the opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, coming out and accusing the Russians of interfering and meddling in Turkey's


And he -- in addressing the Russians he said, dear Russian friends, you are behind the montages, conspiracy, deepfake content and tapes that were

exposed in this country. And he said if you want to continue this friendship after May 15th get your hands off the Turkish state.

Now Kilicdaroglu in the past has said that his priority is restoring ties with NATO and the E.U., and at the same time, he did say he wants to

maintain good relations with the Russians. Some see his statements really as tough election talk ahead of these really consequential elections in the

country in a couple of days.

Now we heard also today from the spokesman of the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, responding to these accusations, rejecting this completely, and saying that

-- he's describing these as rumors and those who spread these rumors as liars saying that Russia does not interfere in the internal affairs of

other countries or the election process in other countries.

While Kilicdaroglu hasn't really offered any evidence why he's saying the Russians are behind any sort of interference in Turkey's election, Julia,

not the first time of course Russia is accused of meddling in other country's elections and affairs.

CHATTERLEY: Exactly. Jomana, great to have you with us. Thank you for that.

And a quick programming note, be sure to watch CNN's special live coverage of the 2023 Turkey elections, hosted by our Becky Anderson. That's this

Sunday, 9:00 p.m. in Istanbul, 10:00 p.m. in Abu Dhabi, right here on CNN.

Now with ceasefire talks stalled, the deadly tit-for-tat and volleys of rocket fire and airstrikes over the Israeli-Gaza border seem to only be

deteriorating. Islamic jihad expanded the scope of its rocket attacks on Friday, targeting Jerusalem for the first time in this latest conflict. And

just a short while ago, CNN journalist near the border witnessed rockets flying right over their heads and being intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is part of that crew.

And Ben, you and I were discussing this and describing, you could see what appears to be rocket fire in the distance behind you. What have you seen in

the last hour? And I guess very much tied to that, what efforts are you hearing about that are being made to find some way of de-escalating what

we're seeing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we heard in the last hour, Julia, is a fairly extensive air raid within the Gaza



In fact, our man on the scene in Gaza City has gone to a building that was struck within the last hour in Gaza City itself. And he said that there

appeared to be casualties. We don't know if there are any fatalities among them. But more casualties adding to the already 31 dead, according to the

Palestinian Ministry of Health. More than 100 people injured so far.

Apart from those air raids, in terms of rocket fire going out of Gaza in the morning, there was quite a lot. As you mentioned, rocket fire, missile

fire aimed at Jerusalem itself, although it appears all of those missiles were intercepted. What we saw here were several rocket missile barrages

that also were intercepted. But what happens when they're intercepted is that shrapnel just rains all around it. That's what we saw just right in

front of us.

As far as the mediation efforts go, they're being led by Egypt, as is often been the case during these outbreaks of fighting between Israel and Gaza.

But so far, they have not reached any sort of or achieved any sort of progress. Now last night, a diplomatic source told CNN that the talks had

stalled. It appears that they may have resumed, but they're not making an awful lot of progress at the moment.

There is talk that Israel is going to start trying to up the pressure on Hamas, which essentially controls the Gaza Strip, to try to bring the

situation under control. But as yet, to what we're seeing is just a continuation of the strikes and counterstrikes, and there's rumors of a

ceasefire, but nothing that approximates a ceasefire so far -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: We will continue to watch it. Ben, great to have you with us. Thank you.

To Pakistan now, and former Prime Minister Imran Khan is free from custody. He left court a short while ago after being granted two weeks bail. But he

tells CNN he still fears being re-arrested.

Khan, as you can see there in the sunglasses in the middle of that crowd, appeared earlier at Islamabad's high courts surrounded by heavy security.

His detention this week triggered deadly protests across Pakistan.

And we're getting dramatic new footage now for fighting in Bakhmut, Ukraine where Russia now admits its troops have been forced to pull back from some

areas. Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says despite Moscow's claim, it's not a tactical retreat but rather Russian forces are simply fleeing

from their formations.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more on the latest fighting in that months-long battle.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: At the vanguard of Ukraine's most successful offensive in months, elite soldiers stormed out

of their U.S. made MM-113 troop carrier near Bakhmut. Over the following three days they would take back close to two miles of Eastern Ukrainian

territory from Russian troops. Their commander explains dry ground, new U.S. attack vehicles helping reverse months of losses.

ROLLO, UAF STORM BATTALION COMMANDER (through translator): Everything was planned and calculated. And we had an advantage because we use armored

vehicles. This time the weather gave us a chance to use all our might and show what we're capable of.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): Yevgeny Prigozhin is saying the reason you took territory is because the Russian forces ran away.

ROLLO (through translator): Prigozhin is a liar because the first to flee were Wagner. It is his units that fled. And our success is not due to the

fact that they fled but the fact that we conducted a planned assault by circumventing and cutting them off. Actually, the unit he is badmouthing

fought to the end. His Wagner's were the first to flee.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Cleaned up and back from the battle, three young troop commanders recall the first moments.

You are nervous, you feel the shivers, Oles says. Every sounds scares you especially the whistle for the mortar shell.

With their success, and losses too, it is always painful and hard to lose, Bars says, but it doesn't stop us. It makes us angrier, tougher, and gives

us motivation to go all the way and not stop.

Each of them knows more battles to come.

After each fight, morale goes up, then down, then up again, Dzudo says. You have to motivate them somehow.

And this last battle, not done, when the Russians will push back. They regrouped, rushing in reinforcements. Not for the first time in the day's

long fight U.S. made weapons making a decisive difference, this time HIMARS precision rockets.


ROLLO (through translator): Their reserve were too far away. And this allowed us to destroy the enemy, even as we approach them. We used unmanned

aerial vehicles to see where they were concentrated which enabled us to use our HIMARS for a precision strike.

ROBERTSON: His battalion estimate in their sector of the fight 200 to 300 Russian soldiers killed. But he is quick to acknowledge those soldiers'

strengths, and says Prigozhin is wrong to discount the Russian army.

(On-camera): Their offensive was so successful another round of attacks was launched early Thursday morning. Commanders are unwilling to say how

successful the new offensive is or even if it's connected to the much- anticipated big counteroffensive.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


CHATTERLEY: South Africa's Foreign Affairs Ministry is summoning the U.S. ambassador in Pretoria after the ambassador accused South Africa of

shipping arms to Russia. The U.S. official says he is, quote, "confident" South Africa's government loaded weapons and ammunition on to a sanctioned

Russian cargo ship last December.

You can see the ship here docked at South Africa's largest naval base. South Africa's Presidential Office says there's, quote, "No record of an

approved arms sale to Russia." They say they are, though, conducting an independent investigation.

And Sudan's ruling parties have signed an agreement that should pave the way for humanitarian aid to resume. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia say it's not

a ceasefire, but a, quote, "declaration of commitment" to help civilians caught in the worsening humanitarian crisis. It's meant to help restore

essential services like electricity and water, and to allow safe access to hospitals.

Now, a major shift in U.S. immigration policy. What it means, though, for thousands of migrants who are trying to enter the United States.

And we'll be speaking with Turkey's former economy minister, now a key player of the main opposition, ahead of the presidential elections on




Law enforcement and migrants along the U.S. southern border are now dealing with a major change in U.S. immigration policy. The pandemic-era expulsion

rule called Title 42 has now expired. The American Homeland Security secretary says it does not mean getting into the country will be easier. In

fact, getting asylum in the United States will now be more difficult with harsher penalties for those who enter illegally.

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had this warning for migrants who may wrongly think that the border is now open.



ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Do not believe the lies of smugglers. People who do not use available legal pathways to enter

the U.S. now face tougher consequences., including a minimum five-year ban on re-entry and potential criminal prosecution.


CHATTERLEY: And CNN's David Culver joins us now from Juarez, Mexico, near the U.S. border.

David, do the people that you're speaking to there that are trying to get into the United States really understand the changes and perhaps also what

the new consequences are for trying to cross the border?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think they are absolutely now starting to begin to understand some of those consequences, Julia. And you heard

what Secretary Mayorkas just said in that soundbite you played, and that is the potential to be banned from the U.S. for up to five years. In fact,

just a few minutes ago, we saw, as you see behind me, some of the people who are being processed, actually decided to come back over to the Mexico

side of the border, and told us that they were going to be expelled, and deported, and potentially face those repercussions. And that's why they

decided not to go through with the processing.

So if you're looking for right now you can see actually what's happening closer to the border wall. So we're on the Mexico side, but you're looking

at Texas soil. So this is the U.S. that you're looking at and you can see those migrants up there, they have their hands up against the fence, and

they're being searched.

This is a group of a few hundred right now, mostly men who are here, and they are being processed one by one, and then they're going to be loaded up

into buses that are a bit farther back on the U.S. side of things. Again, what we're hearing from some of those who have returned is that there is a

high likelihood that they'll be expelled and deported and face those repercussions of not being able to re-enter the U.S.

Now this is an area that's really interesting to have watched for the past 24 hours because we've seen so many changes from really the Texas law

enforcement side of things. Texas state troopers, Texas National Guard, continuing to put up these barbed wire barricades, making them smaller, and

smaller as you've had a group of at one point well over 1,000 migrants in this area. It's now dwindled down to just a few hundred.

And they have grouped them over the past 24 hours or so into families, who are then processed, along with unaccompanied minors. They've gone through

as of overnight and what's left is mostly single men. I think the question that remains as they've blocked off most of this from anyone else

continuing to cross and try to be processed is what happens to the other migrants that are here in cities like Ciudad Juarez.

We know from the foreign minister of Mexico, who's actually here in Ciudad Juarez that there are some 10,000 migrants still in this city. So if you

only have a few hundred here and a few hundred at another port of entry to be processed, where are the other nine plus thousand? Most likely where

we've seen them over the past few weeks and months, and that is in the city center, camping out on shelters, on the sidewalks, trying to get in as they

tell me the right way. Legally.

And they've been trying to do that, Julia, mostly through the CBP One app. And that's one of the ways that U.S. officials have been trying to use

technology north of Mexico City, geofence, where they can log on on their phone, and apply for an appointment to have their case for asylum heard.

The issue that we've been hearing from a lot of the migrants we've spoken with is they've tried every single morning. And you see them pressing

button after button, rapidly trying to get an appointment, and most have been unsuccessful.

A few have been able to get them and are excited to look forward to having their cases heard and be processed and potentially enter the U.S.

illegally. But the vast majority are trying to now think of other ways that they could potentially enter the United States.

It is a continually frustrating and confusing situation, and one that at times, Julia, gets really dire, as folks here realized their resources are

running a quickly.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. It's fascinating, isn't it? Because some of the communities on the Texas side are saying they were preparing for sort of

dramatic influx of people, but clearly the conversations that you're having with people there in the (INAUDIBLE) said they're threatened with the idea

of not being able to try again for five years, perhaps tried to go online and doing this the legal route is at least in the short term perhaps the

more desirable option.

And I guess the U.S. government would be pleased to hear it. The question is, to your point, if they're desperate, sort of how long until you decide,

you know what, I'm just going to try anyway?

CULVER: Right, and it's so interesting because I think what they were expecting this tidal wave of a surge, instead what we were seeing, and

really, we've got this mostly from the migrants is that it's going to be a continued pulsating of smaller surges. Still huge numbers. So the flood has

been going on really for weeks and will likely continue.

But these migrants are not basing their decisions to cross on Title 42 and the dates around that. They are focused on their own individualized

situations. And that's what you really have to stress in talking to them and understanding that this is not just one giant approach to how to get

over to the U.S., but rather, each individual migrant has a different approach and a different plan of action really into what suits them and

their timeline in trying to cross. But, yes, they all do share the same goal and that is to get to that side.


CHATTERLEY: Yes. David, always great to chat you. Thank you.

OK, coming up after this short break, the key issue for Turkish voters when they head to the polls this Sunday, an ailing economy. We'll be speaking to

the man who could be tossed to fix it if the opposition are to be in power. That's next.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York, in for Becky Anderson, and you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

And we are fast approaching one of the most consequential elections this year. Turkey heads to the polls on Sunday, and there's a real chance the

incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan could lose his grip on two decades of power. One of the central reasons for that? A weakened economy,

skyrocketing inflation, a dramatic fall in the value of the Turkish lira versus U.S. dollar, and rising unemployment have made voters unhappy with

President Erdogan's policies.

And Eleni Giokos has the details.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a self-proclaimed enemy of interest rates. Now Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's unorthodox

monetary policy could be coming home to roost. The president believes that high inflation is caused by higher interest rates. The exact opposite of

mainstream economic thinking.

SELVA DEMIRALP, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, KOC UNIVERSITY: Increased interest rate increased the cost of farming. Reduce them and this will reduce

inflationary pressures. So in the unorthodox view adapted in Turkey, the idea was that because interest rate is an important cost of production, by

lowering interest rates, we can lower the cost of productions.

GIOKOS: Since consolidating power in the 2017 referendum, Erdogan has pushed the central bank to aggressively cut rates. It's led to skyrocketing

inflation, officially measured around 43 percent in April, down from its peak of more than 85 percent last October.

The lira has lost over half of its value against the U.S. dollar in the last two years and unemployment is at 10 percent.

HAKIM EKINCI, BARBER (through translator): I used to be an AKP supporter, but I'm not thinking of voting for them anymore. I want the dollar exchange

rate to decline. I want the price of petrol and inflation to drop. I want to go back to the life I had five or six years ago.


GIOKOS: The opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has made fixing the economy a cornerstone of his campaign.

KEMAL KILICDAROGLU, TURKISH CHP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Today if you are poorer than yesterday, the only reason is


GIOKOS: Erdogan is on the offensive to shore up support ahead of the elections. Just this week, he hiked the minimum wage by 45 percent for

700,000 public sector workers. He's also introduced cheaper housing loans and lowered retirement age requirements for some. And last month, he opened

the Istanbul Financial Center, a $3.4 billion development that Erdogan's party is pitching as a future financial hub for the region.

The government claims it will attract $250 billion in foreign investment by 2036. But the reality is foreign money has been pouring out of the country.

TIMOTHY ASH, STRATEGIST, BLUEBAY ASSET MANAGEMENT: We've seen a huge outflow of foreign money because basically they don't trust monetary

policy. They don't want to invest in a country where they don't trust the central bank. They don't think that -- you know, that the central bank is

able to do the right thing, in terms of interest rates. To demand manage the economy, to defend the exchange rate.

GIOKOS: But whether the economic crisis will be enough to oust Turkey's strongman is yet to be seen.

Eleni Giokos, CNN.


CHATTERLEY: Now we had hoped to bring you an interview with Ali Babacan, the man who could become Turkey's next economic czar if the opposition

wins. However due to technical difficulties, we were unable to connect. We hope to bring you that interview next hour. So please stay tuned.

In the meantime, Thailand is also preparing for a pivotal general election this weekend. And the future of Thai democracy could be on the ballot.

CNN's Paula Hancocks has more.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A surprise drop in at Thailand's famous water festival, Songkran, last month. Prime Minister

Prayut Chan-o-cha, former coup leader and army chief, trying to show his softer side ahead of elections. But polls show his party running a distant


PRAYUT CHAN-O-CHA, THAI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): What do we have to adhere to? Nation, religion and the monarchy, isn't that right?

These pillars hold the hearts of the Thai people.

HANCOCKS: Recent polls suggest what many people want is change. Two progressive parties in the lead both pledging to remove the military from


Pheu Thai, the party of the well-known Shinawat political dynasty, first Thaksin then his brother-in-law, his sister, now his daughter, speaking to

the press last week, just two days after having her second baby.

PAETONGTARN SHINAWATRA, DAUGHTER OF THAKSIN: I think that Thailand need change already. We can't wait anymore.

HANCOCKS: Another Pheu Thai candidate for prime minister, real estate developer Srettha Thavisin, a political novice who's tapped in to Thai's

concerns about the economy.

SRETTHA THAVISIN, PHEU THAI PARTY PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE: Thailand has been in a bad economic situation for the last five to eight years, OK? We

are kind of in a coma.

HANCOCKS: Pro-democracy protests in 2020 highlighted frustrations, particularly among the youth, calling for fundamental changes in the way

the country is run.

Of course, the Move Forward Party is based on, calling for changes to the military, the economy, and even the once untouchable monarchy. Chonticha

Jangrew faces charges from her involvement in protests and two so-called lese-majeste charges, a strict law that forbids any criticism of the


CHONTICA JANGREW, MOVE FORWARD PARTY PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: So in the past the topics about the reform of the monarchy is already in the house

only on in the secret place, but now I think it's turned out that we are talking about the reform of the monarchy or Article 112 of the Royal

Defamation in the public.

HANCOCKS: From a taboo to public debate, a change that some experts call game-changing in Thailand, politically earth-shattering.

One wild card, however, the Thai military has staged a dozen coups since 1932, two in the past 20 years when the parties it favored were not in


THAVISIN: And we're afraid of, you know, of them, you know, doing another military coup. My simple answer to that is that I can't be afraid of the


HANCOCKS: As for the man who led the last military coup --

CHAN-O-CHA (through translator): It's up to the people what they want.

HANCOCKS: Some experts consider a military coup at this time to be very costly, both domestically and internationally, with calls for change louder

than they have ever been in Thailand's recent history.

Paula Hancocks, CNN.


CHATTERLEY: The leader of the Wagner private military group is now inviting Russia's defense minister to visit Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin made

the invitation after once again publicly criticizing Russia's top military brass.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the details.



FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After months of brutal fighting, the battle for Bakhmut may be pushing Wagner

boss Yevgeny Prigozhin closer to the edge.

Standing in front of the bodies of his dead fighters, he launched into a rant against Russia's military leadership, blaming them for the deaths.

YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER LEADER (through translator): You think you are the masters of this life? You think you can dispose of other lives? You

think because you have warehouses full of ammunition that you have that right?

PLEITGEN: For months, Prigozhin and Vladimir Putin's top generals, Sergei Shoigu and Valeriy Gerasimov, have been mired in severe infighting. But now

the Wagner boss's tirades are becoming more vicious and more frequent, accusing Russia's defense minister of withholding much-needed ammo.

PRIGOZHIN (through translator): Instead of using a shell to kill an enemy and saving one of our soldiers' lives, they are killing our soldiers.

PLEITGEN: In a country where thousands have been jailed for criticizing Vladimir Putin's war, Prigozhin is getting away with his tantrums. That's

because Putin doesn't fully trust his own military and needs Prigozhin, Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov believes.

ANDREI SOLDATOV, JOURNALIST: He's extremely paranoid about control and political stability. Prigozhin is a tool to, if not to keep the military in

check, at least to keep them off balance.

PLEITGEN: The infighting seems to be costing Russia both lives and momentum. Ukraine's army now says it is making gains in Bakhmut. And while

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his forces long anticipated counteroffensive has not yet started, Prigozhin today once again accusing

the Russian army of cutting and running.

PRIGOZHIN (through translator): Those territories that were liberated with the blood and lives of our comrades, every day progressed by dozens or

hundreds of meters during many months, today are abandoned almost without any fight by those who are supposed to hold our flanks.

PLEITGEN: Bakhmut was supposed to be a much-needed win for Vladimir Putin, but now it could ring in major problems to come, Andrei Soldatov says.

SOLDATOV: I think he is nervous. Putin learned that you cannot trust completely what his people are telling him.


CHATTERLEY: Now one of the most unlikely comeback stories has just been honored in the world of sport. Up next, a preview of CNN's sit-down with

Christine Eriksen, who is back in top form after nearly dying on the pitch. That's next.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. The U.S. National Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 officially ended on Thursday. This comes more

than three years after it was declared. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 96 percent of Americans have either hacked the

virus, been vaccinated, or both. This change means there will be limited federal support for COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and treatment. It also

impacts immigration policy as we've been reporting now that Title 42 came to an end on Thursday, too. It had allowed authorities to swiftly expel

migrants at the border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

And a new system of risk-based rules will clear the way for gay blood donors in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration will now ask all donors

the same questions. Those include if the donor has had a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner in the last three months. If so that person

would be asked to not donate. It's intended to reduce the chance of someone with a new HIV infection from giving blood before the infection can be

detected in a lab. Previously there was a lifetime ban on gay men giving blood.

And Danish footballer Christian Eriksen's perspective on life was destined to change after what happened two years ago next month. He collapsed on the

pitch during a match after suffering cardiac arrest. And after being saved by medics that day, he's revived his football career and has just been

honored with the Comeback of the Year prize at the Laureus Sports Awards.

And he also spoke with CNN's Amanda Davies who joins us now.

Amanda, when I read the story, it gave me goosebumps. What an incredible comeback.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yes, Julia, it was an incredibly emotional occasion on Monday night in Paris. Christian Eriksen awarded his trophy by

David Ginola, another former international player, who actually suffered a cardiac arrest whilst he was playing but in a charity match after

retirement. And you could see how moved he was by being able to hand over this trophy to Eriksen, who said, you know, when he was a young boy growing

up, he didn't expect to be winning trophies for his football in this way.

But he's incredibly honored that he has been able to make a comeback to the top level of the game, back playing for his country in Qatar at the World

Cup and also Manchester United now in the Premier League. He's still incredibly humble, but it was a real honor to be able to speak to him and

to really learn a bit about how it's changed his life and his approach to life, not only for him but his wife and his children as well. And we've got

that interview coming up in just a couple of minutes in "WORLD SPORT."

CHATTERLEY: I cannot wait to watch it. Thank you so much, Amanda. Just how phenomenal for him and his family.

"WORLD SPORT" is up next, and CONNECT THE WORLD will be back at the top of the next hour. Stay with CNN.