Return to Transcripts main page
Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin
Two Russian Oligarchs And Their Families Found Dead Within Days; Macron And Le Pen Make Final Pitch To Voters Ahead Of Sunday Vote; All-Private SpaceX Mission To ISS Returns Sunday. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired April 22, 2022 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR: Another Russian oligarch has been found dead. The former gas executive, his wife, and their daughter all apparently murdered in their home near Barcelona. On Monday, another former Russian gas executive was found dead in his Moscow apartment along with his wife and daughter.
Nic Robertson is in Brussels. Nic, so what do we know about these mysterious deaths? It's hard to believe it's all just a coincidence.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is hard to believe it's a coincidence. There are obvious -- very obvious similarities. There are very obvious -- the two have come close together in time.
We know that Russia has a track record of silencing its critics, even those overseas, by poisoning, by murdering, even finding -- oligarchs have been found dead under mysterious circumstances behind locked doors almost as if creating the impression that they committed suicide. And oftentimes, great difficulty for local police investigating those murders.
And we know, at the moment, Spanish police are investigating the deaths of Sergey Protosenya, the former gas executive from Russia. His wife, his daughter also dead at their home just outside Barcelona. Again, it has the hallmarks of what might be a hit from Russia or a direct hit by Russia. It certainly -- it certainly could look like that. But at the moment, Spanish investigators not speculating, not going there.
And, indeed, in the case of the sudden and unexpected death of Vladislav Avayev, the Gazprombank former vice president, in his apartment in Moscow also suspicious. He, his wife, daughter found dead there.
What Russian authorities are saying is that they are investigating a murder-suicide, which very much gives the impression that they believe or are making the case that this was something that has -- does not have the fingerprints if you will of the state on it. And they're adding to the fact that neighbors, friends, business associates had alerted authorities to the fact that the family weren't answering the door and that the door was locked.
But again, it would be easy to speculate. Separate jurisdictions, separate investigations -- waiting to hear more.
FISHER: Yes. Still tough to believe it's just a coincidence, those two, just a few days apart.
Nic, one more thing for you before you go. The U.K.'s new sanctions target luxury items from Russia. What kinds of items are we talking about here?
ROBERTSON: Yes. We're not talking about the average item that you'd find in your shopping basket -- shopping trolley when you exit the supermarket. Talking here about silver, talking about caviar. Luxury items is what the British government is taxing. They're putting -- or increasing the tariffs on there. They're putting an increase -- 35% tariff on items like silver and caviar.
And it's intended, they say, to further tighten sanctions on Russia. They think that they're going to be targeting with this latest raft of sanctions, which are one -- only one of many new ones that they've applied. They think it will hit about $170 million worth of the Russian economy. And they say, so far, they've targeted -- in terms of these sort of luxury items, they've targeted about $1.3 billion worth of Russian goods.
So, again, the U.K. tightening these things up. Not so many of us popping out to buy a tin of caviar and a pot of silver. But there will be those who do and this is -- this will make it harder for them to buy those products and for Russia to get richer by them.
FISHER: And maybe they'll tax -- or sanction Russian vodka next. Maybe they already have, but that would be a blow, too.
Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
So, French President Emmanuel Macron and his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen campaigning for one last time today before Sunday's high-stakes presidential election. Macron is leading in the polls but the margin appears to be tightening. The outcome could dramatically affect Russia's war in Ukraine.
And CNN's Melissa Bell has the latest from Paris.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Kristin, it is not the first time that the far-right has made it through to a second round of a French presidential election. In fact, it's the third. But it's the first time that the polls have been this tight and with huge implications far behind the borders of France.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BELL (voice-over): Two candidates, two visions for France, two possible outcomes for Ukraine with Russia taking center stage in France's presidential race.
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): You depend on Russian power. You depend on Mr. Putin.
MARINE LE PEN, FAR-RIGHT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I am an absolutely and totally free woman.
BELL (voice-over): As one of the few Western leaders with a line open to both Moscow and Kyiv, Macron led efforts to avoid the war, missing the start of the campaign back home and leading to accusations that he was disconnected from the concerns of ordinary French voters.
His rival, the far-right's Marine Le Pen, may have got a head start on the stump, but the war also cast her campaign in a different light. An early flyer reminded voters of her 2017 visit to the Kremlin where she called for an end to sanctions imposed against Russia after it annexed Crimea.
LE PEN (through translator): No invasion of Crimea.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Annex Crimea. It was part of Ukraine.
LE PEN (through translator): Crimea was Russian. It has always been Russian.
BELL (voice-over): At the time, Ukraine had threatened to ban her from its soil. On Wednesday, President Zelenskyy seemed to offer an olive branch.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): If that candidate for the presidency will realize that she was wrong then it will be a different issue.
BELL (voice-over): Russia's jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny also weighing in to France's election on Wednesday, urging the French to back Macron, tweeting about the bank from which Le Pen's party took a nearly $10 million loan in 2014, saying it's a well-known money laundering agency created at the instigation of Putin.
Hours after Navalny's tweet, the candidates sat down for their first and only debate in this election cycle.
MACRON (through translator): When you talk about Russia you're not talking to other world leaders; you are talking to your banker. That's a problem, Madam Le Pen.
BELL (voice-over): Marine Le Pen insists the loan was strictly a financial arrangement that her party is reimbursing in full.
And the war has changed some of her positions. She now backs some sanctions, although she's wary about sanctions on energy.
LE PEN (through translator): To pretend that the French, who are the European peoples, could absorb the consequences of a total cutoff of Russian gas, oil, or raw materials is simply irresponsible.
BELL (voice-over): France, though, has gone much further than just sanctions sending 100 million euros worth of weaponry to Kyiv, something Le Pen says she would be prudent about.
She also announced last week that after the war she would seek a strategic rapprochement between NATO and Russia.
Like so often in this campaign, the war found its way into her press conference.
BELL: Now, Kristin, Le Pen also wants France to leave NATO's integrated command. She also wants to change Europe so that it becomes a much looser alliance of sovereign nations.
Now, when you consider these last few months, the importance that the unity of both of those organizations have had, you understand that it isn't simply that this war has intruded on the campaign, but that this campaign is likely to have very real consequences for the war, Kristin.
FISHER: Melissa Bell live in Paris. Melissa, thank you so much.
So, just ahead, former President Obama delivering a warning to the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're living through another tumultuous, dangerous moment in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: People are dying from misinformation. Those are the words of former President Barack Obama speaking at Stanford University located in the heart of Silicon Valley. The former president issuing a stark warning about the dangers of big tech allowing disinformation to spread online.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It's that in the competition between truth and falsehood, cooperation and conflict, the very design of these platforms seems to be tilting us in the wrong direction, and we're seeing the results.
Take COVID. The fact that scientists developed safe, effective vaccines in record time is an unbelievable achievement. And yet, despite the fact that we've now essentially clinically tested the vaccine on billions of people worldwide, around one in five Americans is still going to put themselves at risk and put their families at risk rather than get vaccinated. People are dying because of misinformation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: Obama called on tech companies to be more transparent about how they promote content.
The Grizzlies rally from a 26-point deficit to stun the Timberwolves in an epic game three.
Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Kristin.
So, yes, it's going to be hard to find a more wild NBA Playoff game than this one. The Grizzlies rallied from being down 26 in the first quarter and then 25 in the third quarter to easily beat the Timberwolves in game three.
Now, Minnesota -- they came out on fire, scoring the first 12 points of the game. The crowd was all pumped up. They go up by as many as 26.
The Grizzlies, though -- they went on a run. They cut it to seven at halftime.
But then, the Timberwolves just came out hot again in the second half and opened up a 25-point lead in the third quarter. The Grizzlies, though, again, just showing incredible resolve. Desmond Bane would lead them on a 21-0 run.
Memphis outscored Minnesota 37-12 in the fourth quarter. And incredibly, they win game three easily 104-95.
And Ja Morant saying afterward that's a tough loss for Minnesota fans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JA MORANT, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES GUARD: I know what we're capable of and, like I said this morning, that was our goal -- to come in and win games on the road and have the fans go home mad. So, there will probably be a lot of people drinking tonight with that L.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: All right. The Warriors, meanwhile, are continuing to put on a show in Denver. Steph Curry coming off the bench again. He poured in 27 points, as did the Warriors' new star Jordan Poole. Klay Thompson chipping in with six threes and had 26 points.
And with the game on the line in the final minute, Draymond Green coming up with the huge steal from likely MVP Nikola Jokic. The Warriors win 118-113.
Golden State can sweep the series Sunday in Denver. NBA teams with a 3-0 lead in the best of seven are 143-0 all-time in the playoffs.
And, you know, Steph and Klay -- they've been known as the "Splash Brothers" for years but they're adding a new nickname to the team.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN POOLE, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: These guys have given me their confidence, you know? Just to know what it's like to be --
STEPH CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Poole party. It's a Poole party.
POOLE: That's what I'm talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: All right. So now we've got a Poole party.
Elsewhere, Jalen Brunson coming through again for the Mavs in game three last night against the Jazz. Brunson scoring 31 points after this 41-point output in game two.
The Mavs still without Luka Doncic. He remains out with that injured calf. But no problem -- shocking Utah, winning 126-118. They take a 2- 1 lead in the series.
The Playoffs continue tonight. Three more games on the schedule.
The Heat going to try to take a 3-0 lead over the Hawks. Bucks, without Chris Milton now, as he hurt his knee. They're going to play game three against the Bulls.
And the Suns are going to be without Devin Booker. He has an injured hamstring. That is game three in New Orleans tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Detroit Tigers fans booking Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: All right, that was Tigers fans booing Yankees manager Aaron Boone yesterday. Miguel Cabrera one hit away from 3,000 for his career. He was 0-3 when he came to the plate in the eighth inning and Boone decided to intentionally walk him.
The Tigers won the game 3-0. Cabrera is going to go for 3,000 tonight against the Rockies, Kristin.
And you can understand why the fans were all mad. They waited all game for him to hopefully get that 3,000th hit in season history, and Aaron Boone doesn't even give him a chance there in the eighth inning with the intentional walk.
FISHER: No kidding.
All right, Andy Scholes. Thank you so much --
SCHOLES: All right.
FISHER: -- and happy Friday.
So, just ahead, a firsthand account from the standoff underway right now in Mariupol. The city's mayor talks to "NEW DAY," next.
FISHER: The crew of the first all-private mission to the International Space Station will be splashing back down to Earth this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Liftoff. Go Falcon, go Dragon. Godspeed, Axiom- 1.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: The four-member AX-1 crew launched two weeks ago.
So let's bring in Miles O'Brien, CNN aviation analyst and science correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. Miles, good morning.
You know, two weeks ago, you and I covered this launch. And this crew was only supposed to be up there for 10 days. They ended up getting some extra time in space due to some bad weather here on Earth. But walk us through what this crew has been up to and what we will see when they return to Earth on Sunday.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST, SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR (via Skype): Yes, it's been an aggressive mission, as you know, Kristin. They had a big scientific portfolio.
Larry Connor, the lead guy on all of this, who is the second-oldest person to fly to space after the late John Glenn, was doing some work on older cells, which stop dividing -- senescent cells. And the older I get, I guess the more of those I've got, so it's probably a good idea to be looking at that. There was another experiment involving holograms.
And then, the Israeli member of the crew who was a friend of Ramon, who died on Columbia in 2003, did a lot of outreach to kids all over the planet, conducting educational events.
So, they were busy up there but I'm sure they spent a lot of time with their noses pressed against the glass looking at Earth.
FISHER: Yes, how could you not?
And I like that you call it an aggressive mission because as you know, this crew absolutely hates being called space tourists. They describe themselves as private astronauts.
Do you think that they have sufficiently crossed that threshold and deserve that title?
O'BRIEN: Yes. I think -- I think 10 days on the Space Station is a different thing than spending a couple of minutes floating around on either Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic. I think you and I would agree on that. That's a little more of a --
O'BRIEN: -- gold-plated bungee jump.
This is -- this is what real astronauts do. They train like real astronauts and they conducted missions like a real astronaut does. So I think there is a distinction here.
I am curious, however. You know, it's $35,000 a night to be on the International Space Station. I don't know if they leave a mint on the pillow -- or Velcro it, I guess. But there will be additional costs here approaching $400,000 as time goes on here. I know that's part of the $55 million they already spent, but the meter is running, as they say.
FISHER: Yes, I've been curious, too, who exactly foots the bill for these extra days in space.
You know, Miles, one more thing. There have been so many firsts in space over the last year. Why do you think this first -- the first all-private mission to the International Space Station is important?
O'BRIEN: You know, it's the first time the government -- except, of course, for access to the Space Station. But the government -- one government or another -- Russian or U.S. -- has not been involved directly in the transportation. That is a big deal because buying a ride on a Soyuz to get to and from the Space Station -- the Russian rocket -- is -- and requires the government astronauts -- is a different kind of thing as opposed to independently contracting and flying on your own.
So I think this is a -- this is a moment that we'll all remember. This mission is a moment to remember because it is all-private. And most important, signifies that NASA, after all this time, has finally come around to this idea and it's embracing the idea of private space travelers -- dare we say astronauts.
FISHER: It's certainly been an exciting time in space.
Miles O'Brien, thank you so much.
And thanks to all of you for watching. It's been a pleasure being with you this week. I'm Kristin Fisher. "NEW DAY" starts right now. ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Friday, April 22. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington, with Jim Sciutto in Lviv, Ukraine.
And we are beginning with breaking news. Mariupol is close to a catastrophe. That is how the owner of the Azovstal steel plant is describing the situation on the ground right now. Food, water, ammunition growing even more scarce by the hour. Women and children -- hundreds of them still hiding inside what has become a battered and burnt-out fortress.