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Isa Soares Tonight
Russia Plunders Gold In Sudan To Boost Putin's War Effort In Ukraine; Pelosi To Leave For Asia Amid Chinese Threats Over Taiwan Stop; Police Battle Armed Groups In Haiti; Blinken: Had A "Frank And Direct Conversation" With Lavrov; Police Battle Armed Groups In Port-Au-Prince; Pope Denounces "Evil" Of Sexual Abuse During Canada Trip. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 29, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight --
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The reason they're so nervous, Al-Solag is a front for the Russian company Meroe Gold, Wagner is still operating illegally. A foreign company
pretending to be Sudanese to evade U.S. sanctions.
SOARES: New exclusive reporting on the lengths Russia is going to evade U.S. sanctions and fund its war on Ukraine. Plus, will, top U.S. lawmaker
Nancy Pelosi go to Taiwan. Tensions are building as Beijing, Taipei and Washington all await the answer. And --
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SOARES: Haiti has seen its fair share of trouble, but gang violence in the capital has begun to spiral out of control. We'll have all the details just
News to report. CNN can reveal how Russia can stop democratic change over 6,000 miles away. In Sudan, just as the people had successfully toppled one
of the longest-standing African dictators through peaceful protests. Why? Well, Sudan is one of the biggest exports of gold in the world, and Russia
has been illegally exploiting and smuggling this resource from Sudan for years, controlling vital government and non-government institutions to
secure this golden financial pipeline.
Nima Elbagir and her team traveled to the north of Sudan to show how Russia manipulates the Sudanese military government, and how it is using front
companies to circumnavigate U.S. sanctions to hold on to the gold illegally, moving from Khartoum to Russia.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Deep in Sudan's gold country, miners toil in the searing heat, barely surviving in what should be one of Africa's richest
countries. Providing gold for a war, a continent away. We investigate a force more powerful than Sudan's government, controlling its gold,
subverting Sudan's destiny, threatening me and our sources. And thwarting democracy to evade sanctions in Russia's war on Ukraine.
(on camera): Russian manager is on his way, they say.
(voice-over): We uncover the extent of Russia's grip on Sudan. For millennia, Sudan has produced some of the most sought after gold in the
world. And Putin's private army, the notorious paramilitary group Wagner, knows it.
(on camera): Sudan's government is denying Wagner's existence and country, but we're not buying it, and we've come to investigate.
(voice-over): Wagner's tentacles stretch right across Africa. We have discovered some of its most notorious operatives are working on Sudan.
Yevgeny Prigozhin; the head of Wagner, Mikhail Potepkin; Prigozhin's head of Sudan's Opsand(ph), Alexander Sergeyevich Kuznetsov; Wagner's key
enforcer, previously convicted of kidnap and robbery, working with this man.
Sudanese General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemedi(ph) in a quid pro quo for training and weaponry. We travel 200 miles north from the capital,
Khartoum to gold country to take a closer look at Wagner's main money- maker, Artisanal Gold. Miners bring rocks they extract here to be processed, 85 percent of Sudan's gold is produced artisanally.
(on camera): This right here it may not look like much, this is what's left after the rocks that the miners have brought in is milled. Now,
they've taken what they can out of it, but this gets sold, and when it's properly processed, with someone who has superior technology, you can make
ten times what those miners over there are making.
(voice-over): Ten times more money without any of the back-breaking work. And the only foreign processing plant operational in Sudan is Wagner's
Meroe Gold, despite a Sudanese law limiting ownership to locals. Also troubling, Meroe Gold was sanctioned two years ago by the United States for
exploiting Sudan's natural resources and spreading their maligned influence around the globe.
According to the Sudanese government, they officially ceased operations, but they are still here, still evading sanctions. We verified their
location with coordinates provided by Sudanese anti-corruption investigators, and head there to see for ourselves.
As we approach, the red flag of the former Soviet Union blows in the wind, increasingly used by Russian nationalists, it brazenly marks the Meroe Gold
compound, a Russian tanker sits next to it. We get to the entrance and decide to ask a few questions. But not before we turn on our covert
(on camera): (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ELBAGIR: Well, that's convenient, they've just confirmed the Russians are at this location. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) -- there is a black pickup
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ELBAGIR: OK (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Guard just confirmed that the Russian manager is in that black pickup, and is on his way to us.
(voice-over): A Russian van races to the office, but no one seems to be coming over.
(on camera): It seems the Russian manager has changed his mind. But others turn up instead. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ELBAGIR (voice-over): They claim this plant is Sudanese-owned, and it's called Al-Solag. Remember that name, it's important. Al-Solag. We head off
the property to do some more filming. But we're followed, security approaches. They want us to stop.
(on camera): This is public ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
ELBAGIR: This is public ground. Why, is your berm stopping here? Trying to get us to move on, they're taking pictures of us, of our license plates.
(voice-over): The reason they're so nervous, Al-Solag is a front for the Russian company Meroe Gold. Wagner is still operating illegally. A foreign
company, pretending to be Sudanese to evade U.S. sanctions. We obtained a registration documents to prove it. The document on the left is for Meroe
Gold, the one on the right, Al-Solag.
These dates represent complaints made in employment court against Meroe Gold. These ones from Al-Solag are the same. Under Sudanese law, when a
company's holdings are transferred, so are any judgments against it. Here, you can see the judgments against both companies are identical.
All they've done is change the name. Wagner, hiding in plain sight, to avoid U.S. sanctions and keep the financial pipeline flowing back to Moscow
and its war on Ukraine. A dangerous business to delve into.
(on camera): Since we have arrived in country, I have been informed by sources of threats that they believe to be credible against me. They say
that's what happens here when you look too closely at Russia's business dealings. We are off to meet one of those sources, and he's asked that I
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meroe Gold is a front for the Russians, specifically for the forces of Wagner that are working to exploit gold in Sudan and its
export. It's a front, it's not a company. It extracts gold from tailings and it buys gold from the Sudanese artisanal miners. That's not legal.
Because the law says that any gold producer is supposed to report the quantity it produces to the central bank and to the ministry of mining. And
that does not happen.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Inside Sudan's central bank, a whistleblower snapped this photo of a computer screen, showing official production in 2021 at
49.7 tons, 32.7 tons are unaccounted for by the central bank. But the real figure we're told by whistleblowers could be over 220 tons, that's around
$13. 4 billion worth of gold a year that's being stolen from Sudan.
How has this happened? Two years ago, the Sudanese people successfully overthrew Africa's second-longest ruling dictator, Omar al-Bashir. Eighteen
months later, the military staged its own coup, sweeping aside civilian rule.
And they did this, we are told, with Wagner's support, in exchange for gold. This man had a front row seat to Russia's machinations, and has
evidence to prove it stood to gain by supporting the Sudanese military's coup. Under threat of assassination, he's been in hiding for the last nine
months, moving from safe-house to safe-house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian and Sudanese officers saw the civilians and the government as an obstacle to their plan. The official anti-corruption
tax force wasn't caving to pressure or threats or even bribery. The armed forces were found to be complicit in the smuggling of gold by the Russians,
and it was raised with them.
ELBAGIR (on camera): Do you blame Russia for the death of democracy here in Sudan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. Russia carries the majority of the blame for the still-birthing of Sudan's democracy.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Just days later, his nephew was killed by state actors trying to stop a pro-democracy demonstration. In the two weeks we've
been in Sudan investigating Russia's illegal gold mining, ten people were killed protesting for change.
It's not just on the battlefields of Ukraine that Russia is spilling blood. Here, too, there is a human cost. The cost of Russia's support of Sudan's
generals, in return for its gold.
SOARES: And CNN's Nima Elbagir joins me, with me -- and joins me now. Nima, terrific reporting from you --
ELBAGIR: Thank you --
SOARES: And indeed, a very important reporting. What your piece does align very clearly there is the ways that Russia has been able to re-maneuver
these sanctions, right? From the U.S. So, what is the U.S. saying about this? I mean, are they even aware that this is happening?
ELBAGIR: Well, what we received from the State Department was an essence confirmation of our reporting, that they're aware that Wagner continues to
exist and continue to, as they put it, exploit Sudan's natural resources. But to the question what are they doing about it?
ELBAGIR: Well, they say they're monitoring, and they're raising this with the Sudanese government. You have a government that overthrew their own
legitimate civilian counterparts. The idea that raising it with them or monitoring, would be enough, would be appropriate, given how high the
stakes are, not just for Russia or for Ukraine, but for Sudan itself.
SOARES: Yes --
ELBAGIR: For Sudan's transition to democracy. It's pretty extraordinary. We did reach out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
Ministry of Defense and to the offices of the Sudanese generals, and we got no response to our requests for comments.
SOARES: What --
ELBAGIR: I just want to make that clear.
SOARES: What did -- what can the U.S., what can the international community here, in terms of pressure, more sanctions?
ELBAGIR: Well, at the moment, the U.S. doesn't have secondary sanctions in place. So there's no legal obligation on the part for the Sudanese
government to behave in keeping with the guidelines around Meroe Gold. But there should be a moral obligation in an instance where, an entity has
stated, in this case, the U.S. State Department, that Sudan is being exploited.
That Its natural resources are being siphoned out to benefit only Russia. It speaks to a level of U.S. inaction even when its own interests that are
at stake. This is undermining the U.S.' ability to in any way undercut that Russian fortress, Russia project against the global --Ukraine war
SOARES: And of course, obvious, Nima, I know this, you are Sudanese, you've covered deteriorating conditions at the moment, politically in the
country. I mean, give us a sense of what you've seen in the last few years, how much it has deteriorated in your view, Nima?
ELBAGIR: This was -- this was really heartbreaking. This has been a very difficult time for Sudan. Every week, people go out on these
demonstrations, and one or two or three people are killed every week, every two weeks. So you have this horrible idea that, actually, to be -- to be
recognized by the world in this moment of suffering, all the Sudanese people can do is die.
And then on top of that, you have a foreign power that is exploiting Sudan, that as one of our interviewees called it, is still-birthing Sudan's
democracy, and the world which claim to be standing with this democratic transition, is so far doing nothing. It was very difficult to see. It was
really -- it was really painful.
SOARES: Terrific reporting from you and the team, important reporting, really appreciate it --
ELBAGIR: Thank you --
SOARES: Nima. Well, from stealing Sudan's gold, to really fueling the war in Europe, the Wagner Group has memos touching on that, also operates in
Ukraine. And Ukrainian Intelligence is now accusing it of a terrorist attack on a prison in Russian-controlled Donetsk, where many Ukrainian
soldiers who surrounded at Mariupol, if you remember, were held.
A separatist leader says at least 53 prisoners were killed, Russia blames Ukraine for the attack. Elsewhere in the Donetsk region, the mayor of
Kramatorsk, says at least three people were wounded in a missile strike today. And then to the north, Russia is escalating attacks on Ukraine's
second largest city, shelling the heart of Kharkiv. Very busy indeed.
Let's go to Jason Carroll, he's following all the developments for us tonight in Kyiv. And Jason, what more do we know at this hour about the
purported attack on the prison in separatists help, eastern Ukraine?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's, right, Isa, you were talking about Ukrainian Intelligence as well, that Intelligence report also
suggests that the attack was, even though, it was carried out by Russian mercenaries, but that it was not coordinated with the Russian Defense
Again, that according to Ukraine Intelligence. Just a short while ago, we should tell you that Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs tweeted about
the attack, saying the following, saying "Russia has committed another petrifying war crime by shelling a correctional facility in the occupied
Olenivka where it's held at Ukrainian P.O.W.s. I call on all partners to strongly condemn this brutal violation of international humanitarian law,
and recognize Russia a terrorist state."
Again, that coming from Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Of course, CNN cannot independently verify the allegations of what's going on here.
But as you say, you've got each side pointing at the other side, from Russia's point of view, they are saying that this was again carried out by
the Ukrainians, and that it was carried out with the help of using weapons provided by the Americans.
They were saying, the Russians, that 53 Ukraine P.O.W.s were killed during that attack, 71 were wounded. Again, though, you've got allegations, Isa,
going on both sides of this --
SOARES: Yes --
CARROLL: CNN cannot independently confirm what the Ukrainians saying, and for the flip side of that, nor can CNN confirm what the Russians are saying
about the attack as well.
SOARES: And I know something that CNN will continue to delve into, I have no doubt, Jason. But look, I want to stay in eastern Ukraine because it was
a pretty restless night, I believe, in Russia, as Russian forces try to advance westward. What can you tell us?
SOARES: Do you have us, Jason? Jason, just double check, are you still with us? We seem to have lost him. Well, as soon as we get him, of course,
we'll return. But important, very restless night it seems still in eastern Ukraine on that frontline. Well, Ukraine is preparing to export grain
through the Black Sea once again.
And it says it's waiting for the United Nations approval. The U.N. recently brokered a deal that would guarantee the safe passage of grain shipment,
and is expected to announce a route soon. Our Nic Robertson is in Odessa for you.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Against the backdrop of stuck cargo ships and some secrecy, Ukraine's president led
international diplomats to Chornomorsk port on the Black Sea, to show them how Ukraine is complying with the U.N. brokered grain deal.
Nearby Odessa port, Ukraine's infrastructure minister led the same delegation. This, time accompanied by journalists to the normally off-
limits dock side. Russia, he implied, is holding up the U.N. grain deal, and needs to sign off on shipping routes.
OLEKSANDR KUBRAKOV, INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER, UKRAINE: We need for their side to approve the lane or the route, how it will go on the Black Sea.
ROBERTSON (on camera): And everything is approved from your side right now?
KUBRAKOV: From our side, yes, we provide some options, and we are ready.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Both American and British ambassadors on a rare trip far from Ukraine's capital, double down on the minister's message.
(on camera): Ukraine has agreed to it, so we're waiting for Russia?
BRIDGET BRINK, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: We are waiting for Russia to implement this deal, yes.
MELINDA SIMMONS, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Ukrainians have put their options together. Russians have other ideas. The U.N. is having to mediate
it, that's what we're waiting on.
ROBERTSON: The ball is in Russian court.
SIMMONS: The ball is in Russia's court, but then it always has been.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): The harbor side press conference just a few 100 meters from where Russian cruise missiles slammed in less than a week ago.
Raising fears here, insurance fees for shipping will skyrocket, potentially scuppering the U.N. deal.
SIMMONS: We were just talking about this, the last port that if you can get these first ships out, that's going to be quite confidence building.
Once we get this going, and there's confidence that, that route can be used, I think these issues can be resolved quite quickly.
ROBERTSON: Until then, ships like the NAVI STAR loaded with corn will stay roped up, crews wondering what's going to happen next.
(on camera): And it's not just the ships that are loaded with grain, there are dozens upon dozens of silos like this, dotted around the port facility
here, fully stocked, fully loaded. The grain there, ready to get out to the world. And that's what the Ukrainians say they want to do. Nic Robertson,
CNN, Odessa, Ukraine.
SOARES: And still to come tonight, tensions are soaring in the Pacific over Taiwan. We'll take you to Taipei to find out why China is furious over
a possible visit, and how Taiwan is reacting.
And cut off from food and water. How gang violence in Haiti is decimating the lives of ordinary people. You are watching CNN.
SOARES: Well, China is preparing to back up its harsh warning to the U.S. on Taiwan with firepower. State media reported that Chinese President Xi
Jinping bluntly told U.S. President Biden on a phone call Thursday, that those who play with fire will perish by it. Now, China plans to conduct
live fire drills Saturday, in waters across from Taiwan.
Tensions are sharply ratcheting up amid speculation that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second in line to the presidency, will visit Taiwan during a
trip to Asia beginning this weekend. And the U.S. is worried that China may be preparing to make a move on the island. CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei,
Taiwan, for us.
And Will, really, at this hour, roughly yesterday, we saw the readout, that exact readout of the lengthy phone call between Xi Jinping and President
Biden, where he said, you know, you play with fire, you get burned, something along those lines. What is the feeling where you are, Will, about
this potential visit by Nancy Pelosi? Do they think that it's wise?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are certainly mixed views about that. They welcomed U.S. lawmakers coming here because it
helps them shape their policy back in D.C. However, Nancy Pelosi will be the highest ranking in a quarter of a century to come here.
And it is at a particularly tense time. That said, people in Taiwan, they've heard the play with fire, you know, rhetoric before. They've seen
China either release propaganda videos or conduct exercises in response to various visits or other actions that they deem to be crossing some sort of
a red line.
So, people here are certainly cautious. They're getting prepared, but they do know that this has, up until now at, least, been a rhetorical escalation
and not a military conflict.
RIPLEY (voice-over): Taiwan trains for a Chinese attack, air raid sirens in Taipei, fighter jets scramble. Helicopters hunt submarines. Destroyers
open fire. China's refusal to publicly condemn Russia's war on Ukraine, adding urgency to the island's annual military drills, fueling fears of a
Taiwan tensions dominated more than two-hour call Thursday. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping trading warnings on Taiwan. Chinese
state media quoting Xi, those who play with fire will perish by it. The ominous warning amid growing speculations U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
may be planning a trip to Taiwan, a plan discouraged by Biden.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The military thinks it's not a good idea right now.
RIPLEY: Pelosi won't talk about her travel plans for security reasons. It would be the highest level U.S. visit in 25 years.
BRIAN HIOE, TAIWANESE-AMERICAN TAIPEI RESIDENT: There could have been more dialogue between Taiwan and the Biden administration, rather than have this
confusing mixed signals presented out there openly in the public, in a way that now, China has noticed and will respond in some way.
RIPLEY: A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group is back in the China Sea, citing routine operations ahead of Pelosi's possible visit.
HIOE: Who would be caught in a cross-fire of a conflict between the U.S. and China. It would be Taiwan, which is right there next to China.
RIPLEY: Beijing promises firm and resolute measures to safeguard national sovereignty. Chinese passports showed Taiwan as a mainland province, even
though it has its own military and government for more than seven decades.
WANG TING-YU, MP, TAIWANESE DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY: Taiwan is a country, Taiwan is our home. We are not pawn of anyone. Not Chinese, not
RIPLEY: China considers U.S.-Taiwan diplomacy a red line. Beijing won't rule out using force to prevent the island's formal independence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will show our willingness to defend ourselves.
RIPLEY: Defending against China's massive military would be a Herculean task. Taiwan is counting on friends like the U.S. to defend their democracy
from what they call a growing threat.
RIPLEY: And Isa, we have noticed Chinese drones are flying near Taiwan in recent days, possibly conducting some kind of surveillance, the Taiwanese
military says. As for Nancy Pelosi, she has announced now that this Asia trip is happening. And officially on the agenda, you have South Korea,
Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.
Now, Japan will probably be the most likely place that she would then fly to Taiwan, if that is added to her itinerary. It's not on it officially
right now. But the reason why it would be from Japan is because there is such a significant U.S. military presence. If they did need to escort her
plane, you know, she might be flying in a military plane, but just to make sure that she's safe and that China doesn't try to, you know, shadow her
Japan will be the best place to do that from. So, we have to just look at the dates for when she is in Japan, and watch and wait and see what
happens. Still nothing official on the ground here in Taipei about if she's for sure going to come.
SOARES: Will Ripley for us there in Taipei, Taiwan, thanks very much, Will, good to see you. And still to come tonight, we'll go to Moscow for
the latest on a proposed prisoner swap as the U.S. offers to send a convicted arms dealer back to Russia to bring home two of its citizens.
I'll also speak with the brother of one of those two prisoners, what he thinks about this offer, that is next.
SOARES: Welcome back. I'm Isa Soares in London. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he spoke with his Russian counterpart earlier on
Friday, calling it "Frank and direct conversation." He says he pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial prisoner swap proposal the U.S. is
making, offering to return a convicted Russian arms dealer nicknamed the Merchant of Death in order to secure the release of U.S. citizens, Paul
Whelan and Brittney Griner.
Let's go, Fred, to Fred Pleitgen in Moscow. And Fred, what is the Russian side saying regarding that call was Secretary Blinken?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I think both sides acknowledge this is really a very important call that
took place. And you could tell it the United States, obviously, very serious about trying to get both Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan back to
the U.S. and make that what the U.S. calls the substantial proposal that they've made to make that a reality. And then, obviously, that also
entailing Viktor Bout as well, even though the State Department hasn't officially acknowledged that yet.
This was the first call between the Secretary of State and the Russian foreign minister since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So that, alone,
obviously makes it very important one. For the Russian part side, they put out a readout of this call as well. And they really focused on the parts of
the call that were geared towards that grain agreement that was made with the Ukrainians and the Turks, and also the war in Ukraine itself, very
little about the actual offer that the U.S. is apparently making.
In fact, the only little piece in that statement that we found about that was apparently Sergey Lavrov urging the United States to return back to
what they call quiet diplomacy, which means the Russians don't want to discuss any details about this in public. I want to listen to somewhat of
what Sergey Lavrov had to say earlier, which really goes along the same lines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Must should to grade school is your honor. If we're talking about a prisoner swap
between Russia and the United States, then the foreign ministry has already commented that. This topic was discussed over a year ago during the Geneva
meeting between Presidents Putin and Biden. There, they agreed to authorize competent people to deal with these issues. The foreign ministry is not one
of them. Nevertheless, I will listen to what he can say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So the Russians are saying they were perfectly fine making this call. Sergey Lavrov was not exactly clear whether or not the call was going
to happen today when he was spoken to earlier. But clearly the Russians really want to keep the talks about all this behind closed doors, see if
they can come to an agreement. It was quite interesting because I also asked Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman to Kremlin, about all this when the U.S.
came out really made public what -- that they had put this offer on the table, and all I got from him was no comment from the Russians. They really
want to keep the talks here really behind closed doors, Isa.
SOARES: I mean, on that point, Fred, I mean, you cover Russia quite a bit for us, you know the country well. From what I understand, Viktor Bout, the
Kremlin and Russia wanted Viktor Bout for quite a while. So, why are they not jumping here at the offer? What are you hearing as to why they want
this quiet diplomacy, why they're taking so long?
PLEITGEN: Well, first of all, I think the Russians generally never discussed anything like this publicly. And I think that the Russians also
very much -- and we see this in a lot of dealings with them. They do really like to keep to the ways that, for instance, foreign ministries and
governments with each other, operate and there are certain modes of operation that when it comes to prisoner swaps, the Russians simply say
they want things like this to work -- be worked out behind closed doors.
But you are absolutely right. Of course, Viktor Bout was always someone who was extremely important to the Russians. In fact, when he was brought to
the United States, when he was convicted in the United States, the Russian said that they consider this to be diametrically opposed to the Russian
Federation. They've many times said that they want Viktor Bout to be fried immediately.
It's unclear why the Russians don't seem to be jumping on this offer very quickly. Of course, we do know that the U.S. is frustrated by the lack of
progress that's been going on, whether or not the Russians believe that they -- maybe they can get more out of the Americans at this point in time
is absolutely unclear. But it is definitely true that for a very long time, the Russians have been making the case that they feel Viktor Bout should be
freed immediately, definitely someone who's very important for them.
SOARES: Fred Pleitgen there for us in Moscow. Thanks very much, Fred.
Well, Brittney Griner is an American basketball star, as we have mentioned, but now I want to take a closer look at the other American involved in this
potential prison exchange. That's Paul Whelan. He's a 52-year-old corporate security executive and holds citizenship in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and
Ireland. Whelan was detained at a Moscow hotel by Russian authorities in December of 2018. The Russians say he was involved in an intelligence
operation. The former Marine was charged with espionage and is serving a 16-year sentence. He denies the charges.
I want to bring in Paul Whelan's brother, David Whelan, who joins me now. Thank you very much, David, for taking the time to speak to us. Really, I
want to get a sense from you of what you make of that proposal from the U.S., a proposal that Secretary Blinken calls a substantial offer.
DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER OF DETAINED AMERICAN PAUL WHELAN: Thank you for having me. Yes. I mean, we know that the number of concessions, that the
U.S. government has that the Russian government has asked for is short. And if Mr. Bout is on it, it would certainly seem that it is a -- an offer that
is designed to appeal to Russian self-interest.
SOARES: And, David, I don't -- I'm not sure whether you heard the exchange I was having with Fred Pleitgen, our correspondent in Moscow, because the
one thing that we've heard before is that, you know, this offer was put a while back. We know that the Russians wanted Viktor Bout for some time. So
why -- do you know or you have any understanding of why the delay and the lack of response from the Russian side?
WHELAN: Well, I don't know, apparently any more than anybody else does. But I do know that the Russian government is very precious about allowing their
legal systems, such as it is to complete its process. And I wouldn't at all be surprised if they were waiting for the Griner trial conviction
sentencing to occur first before they started to have any sort of discussions or outreach to the Americans. And as Fred said, it's likely to
be done behind doors after this. I think that this was an extraordinary airing of the issue. And I think it's unlikely that we'll hear anything
unless it is resolved in the future.
SOARES: Why do you think the U.S. had to air the issue? Do you think -- Fred said they were frustrated. Do you feel they had to put out there, they
had to tell all the world in order to try and force their hand, do you think?
WHELAN: Could be. I think the Press Secretary in the United States, I think it was yesterday, Mr. Kirby said that it was more to reassure Americans
that the Biden administration is focused on the wrongful detention issue. And I will take that at face value. The Biden administration has been very
engaged in the last few months.
SOARES: When did you find out, David, about this proposed offer?
WHELAN: On social media when it happened.
SOARES: All right. So not -- you didn't get a heads up or anything like that? Look, let me ask you this. I was reading an op-ed, what, a day -- two
days ago, I think, by someone called Rob Zach. He was one of the drug enforcement officials who helped capture Viktor Bout. And he's -- in this
op-ed, David, he says that an exchange would be misguided and naive. Basically saying that, you know, Bout serve less than 15 percent, he's
still a threat.
I mean, when you hear these comments, what do you say? I mean, are you surprised that the U.S. even put this offer on the table in the first
WHELAN: No, I'm not surprised. In order to get Paul home and to bring Brittney Griner home, they need to make a concession to the Russian
government and Mr. Bout is on that list of concessions, whether it's, you know, what everybody would necessarily want, I don't know. But frankly, if
the President of the United States approves it, then I'm comfortable that the decision is within the interest of the American people.
SOARES: And have you heard from -- have you spoken to your brother since the proposal was announced?
WHELAN: My parents were able to speak to him yesterday. So, he was aware. He had seen the Russian media talk about it. So his fellow labor colonists
were able to translate it for him.
SOARES: And give us a sense of what he said of, you know, is he hopeful that this is going to take place? What are these lawyers saying?
WHELAN: I'm not sure what his lawyers are saying. He is cautiously optimistic. I think like the rest of us are. He has been left behind once
before in a trade. And so I think we are all being careful about getting too optimistic that it'll actually happen, but obviously hoping that it
SOARES: How is it doing, more importantly, David?
WHELAN: Well, it's not great, and it's getting worse. The sanctions have started to bite so the President is reducing the amount of food that it's
giving to prisoners. They aren't able to work as much because the product that they create the textiles, they don't have materials for. So now you
have a -- an underfed idle population in the labor colony in Mordovia. There have been fights. It's not a great existence.
SOARES: David Whelan, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us tonight and I hope this concludes safely, and well, and quickly, and that
you -- your brother comes home as soon as possible. David, really appreciate it.
WHELAN: Thank you very much.
SOARES: And still to come tonight, violence on a devastating level, how gang warfare in Haiti is spiraling out of control. I have that story next.
SOARES: Now capital city being torn apart by gang violence. A truly terrifying snapshot of what people are facing right now in Port-au-Prince
in Haiti. More than 200 people have been killed over the past three weeks in one neighborhood alone. That is according to the local mayor. The
violence is so bad in fact that some communities are being cut-off from access to food, water, as well as basic supplies and there are fears a
prison could soon be overrun.
Our Matt Rivers is on the story for us. Matt look, it seems that things are going from bad to worse as this gang war escalates. Give us a sense of what
impact this is having on kind of Haitians' daily lives here.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. I mean, this just brought the entire neighborhoods, entire sections of that city to a grinding halt. People are
literally afraid to leave their homes in some cases and that is saying something by the standards of Port-of-Prince, which is a city that
unfortunately is no stranger to gang violence going back decades, in fact. What is happening right now, you could argue, is truly unprecedented.
RIVERS (voice-over): For months now, Port-au-Prince has been trapped in a brutal cycle of gang violence, and the latest crisis point, in the city's
downtown. In a video obtained by CNN first published by the Miami Herald, officers with the Haitian National Police can be seen engaged in a tense
shootout with suspected gang members on Wednesday. The fighting brought this part of the city to a virtual standstill with fears mounting over what
might happen here, Haiti's National Prison just a few blocks from the fighting.
A source inside the prison said that when the fighting broke out, prisoners had not received food or water for three days. Desperate and scared amidst
the gunfire, the source says hundreds of prisoners managed to escape from their cells and into the prisons courtyard, where they were met by police.
"The police began to shoot indiscriminately," said the source. It's still unclear if there were any injuries.
A Haitian law enforcement source confirmed the partial breakout to CNN, saying that hundreds of prisoners were eventually put back in their cells
when riot police entered, but the source added that this could happen again. Gangs in the area could attempt to overrun police and free prisoners
from inside. "The gangsters are taking over the area around the prison and they have pushed the police back. The police keep losing with poor
management and a command staff that is not qualified." said our source.
In addition to Haitian prisoners, the facility houses the roughly two dozen Colombians accused by authorities of participating in last year's
assassination of President Jovenel Moise. They've sat in prison for more than a year and is still yet to be formally charged. The National Police
did not respond to CNN's request for comment.
Downtown Port-au-Prince, just the latest part of the city where gangs have laid siege. Roughly 75 percent of the city is either under the control of
various gangs or in the crosshairs of ongoing gang violence, according to the Haitian law enforcement source, including the neighborhood of Cite
Soleil where more than 200 people have been killed in July alone, due to fighting between gangs, according to the mayor.
He says the situation is very critical. People are in a very bad place. And the ongoing violence makes it worse. It has created a dire humanitarian
crisis in the neighborhood where people are struggling with basic access to food and water, a bleak reality that might be replicated in more parts of
the city, if this fighting continues unabated.
RIVERS (on camera): And so, Isa, I mean, think about that number, 75 percent, roughly, of the entire city of Port-au-Prince either under the
control of gangs or territory that is actively being fought over. If you're wondering where the federal government is in all of this, they are largely
absent, largely staying quiet, unable or unwilling, or both, to stop what is going on. And what happens in Port-au-Prince affects the rest of the
country because as goes Port-au-Prince, so goes the rest of Haiti, it is the economic engine of that country and right now, basically at a
standstill due to all this violence.
SOARES: When you're talking about the federal government there, Matt, I mean, unable, unwilling is -- what's behind it? I mean, clearly, they're
out -- probably outmanned, outgunned here by these gangs. But do they have at least the financial means or is that even a concern right now?
RIVERS: Yes, I think it's all of the above. A lack of financial means, they are outgunned. That is for sure. Out-trained in many cases. I mean, there
are 120,000 national police officers in Haiti, but they are being unfortunately killed and injured at a major rate. The U.N. has said that
they need better training, better equipment. That is something though that the U.N. has been calling in Haiti for for years now. So it's unclear what
makes this better.
And I think we can overlook the fact that there is a political vacuum since the death of President Jovenel Moise, it's still being run by Prime
Minister Ariel Henry, who is a largely ineffective leader. It's just objective to say that, he's not solving any of Haiti's problems at the
moment. And without new elections, there's no sitting Congress, there's no new president, those would be the people that would need to be in place to
start to make these changes. And yet right now, they're not.
SOARES: Yes. An environment pretty much rife, as you clearly outlined there for this kind of gang violence, gang war to escalate. Matt Rivers there for
us. Thanks very much, Matt. Good to see you.
Well, Pope Francis is traveling to northern Canada, the final stop on his week-long pilgrimage of penance. Ahead of that, France has acknowledged,
for the first time during his historic trip, the sexual abuse of minors by members of the Canadian Catholic Church. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS, HEAD OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): The church in Canada, after being hurt and devastated by the evil perpetrated by some
of its sons and daughters, has set out on a new path. I think in particular of the sexual abuse against minors and vulnerable people, crimes that
require firm action and an irreversible commitment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, throughout his tour, Francis has apologized to indigenous communities for abuse in Canada's church run schools.
Now the U.K. record breaking heat wave, if you remember last week, was made at least 10 times more likely by climate change. That is according to new
research. For the first time ever, the U.K. sweltered in temperatures above 14 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists say heat waves are
becoming more frequent globally. And climate change has an influence on all of them.
And still to come tonight. What would you do with a billion dollars? Americans or All over the country try their luck at today's jackpot. We'll
bring you that story just ahead.
SOARES: Now lottery fever has taken over the U.S. as the nation awaits the Mega Millions draw today, more than $1 billion is up for grabs as the
second largest jackpot in Mega Millions history. The lucky winner will have a choice to make, have the full winnings paid out bit by bit over the next
30 years, or take nearly $750 million in one lump sum now. CNN's Omar Jimenez joins me now to discuss. And Omar I can imagine how excited
everyone is about these numbers coming out. What have they been telling you they would do with the money?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've been telling me all kinds of things, quitting their jobs, buying homes, buying cars, you name it,
because obviously this is a life-changing amount of money. There's also a certain feeling in the air when the money gets to the amount that we've
gotten to, over a billion dollars. You get people who might not usually play the lottery start to say, hmm, maybe I should. And honestly, I agree.
One of those people is Mr. Andrew Tart here, your Chicago resident. So real quick, I saw you come in. Why did you decide to play the lottery? And how
many did you play?
ANDREW TART, CHICAGO RESIDENT: I bought two.
JIMENEZ: OK. And why did you decide to come in.
TART: I decided to come in and get it because we've got we got veterans, we got homeless people and stuff like that. I think -- I've noticed in the
last few days, I always pack a lunch when I'm leaving my home, coming to the VA, Jesse Brown, I normally pack a little bit of something for someone
for the homeless out here. And I noticed talking to a gentleman yesterday, and he was saying that he didn't have proper clothes on. And I'm saying
there's no place for these people to take a bath, you know, and so I would look to do a shower, some kind of set up that they can take a shower.
JIMENEZ: And Andrew, I have to say you just gave the most noble and pure reason of anyone I have spoken to for what they would do with this money.
And the last thing I want to ask is, obviously, you don't have much of a chance. It's a small chance.
TART: I have a big chance. I have a big chance because two things are there. My wife, when she was born on the third of the month, and the
sixteenth when I was born, would be a great big part of it.
JIMENEZ: OK. All right. So the magic is in the numbers.
TART: The magic in the numbers.
JIMENEZ: Well, Andrew, thank you so much. Good luck to you.
TART: Thank you.
JIMENEZ: I cannot wait -- and because of your reason, I hope you win specifically.
TART: And you. You'll be interviewing me again.
JIMENEZ: Yes. And I'll be finding you. You come find me.
TART: Thank you.
JIMENEZ: But obviously, with that spirit, you know, it's a 1 in 303 million chance to actually be the jackpot winner here. And even the $1.28 billion
that it is right now, it's only the second biggest it has been in history, the first was $1.5 billion that an anonymous South Carolina winner took
home back in 2018. And, of course, you mentioned it coming to me, the major choice this eventual winner will have, do you take the lump sum or do you
take it out in annual installments? Me, I would take the lump sum.
SOARES: Good. I was about to ask you. But look, I'm rooting for Andrew. What a noble answer, I have to say. And I hope he has a good chance. Thanks
very much. Omar Jimenez there. and from Mega Millions to an artist who's truly just priceless.
The song may be called Alien Superstar but it is here on earth that Beyonce really reign supreme. Critics are calling her new album Renaissance one of
the best ever. The project which fuses disco, R&B, house music, and other influences is her first studio album six years following the hugely
acclaimed, of course, Lemonade. Beyonce says the new album is the first of a three-part series and given the fact it's shot straight to number one on
iTunes, it seems as though her Renaissance, well, it's here to stay.
And that does it for me for tonight. Thanks very much for your company. I'm Isa Soares. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. Have a wonderful weekend. I
shall see you on Monday. Bye-bye.