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Isa Soares Tonight
Officials Warn A Nuclear Incident At The Russian-Held Zaporizhzhia Power Plant Is Now A Serious Threat As The Plant Briefly Goes Offline; Myanmar Junta Arrests Former U.K. Ambassador; Sierra Leone Officials Cut Internet; Russian-Backed Authorities Prepare For POW Trials; France Looking For Fuel Suppliers To Replace Russia; Sierra Leone Protesters Worry Cyber Crime Law Is Enabling Crackdown; Floods Kill Dozens, Destroy Homes in Sudan. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 25, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Christina Macfarlane in for Isa Soares. Tonight,
officials warn a nuclear incident at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia power plant is now a serious threat as the plant briefly goes offline for the
first time ever. We're live from Kyiv.
Then escalating tensions. Myanmar's military Junta arrests a former British diplomat after Britain slaps a new round of sanctions on the country. And a
frightening crackdown on free speech. How Sierra Leone's new cyber crime law is silencing citizens. Now fears of a potential nuclear disaster in
Ukraine are only deepening this hour after the Zaporizhzhia power plant was briefly severed from the national grid for the first time in history.
Ukraine says Russian attacks triggered fires that twice disconnected the last operating power line. The IAEA says Ukraine has informed it that the
power supply has been restored. Also today, Ukraine says the death toll is rising from a Russian strike on a railway station. It now says 25 civilians
were killed, including two children. Russia says it killed 200 Ukrainian service members instead.
And in Russian-occupied Mariupol, we're seeing what appears to be preparations for the trials of Ukrainian prisoners of war. The steel cages
are expected to be used as holding cells. Well, our Sam Kiley is following all the developments for us tonight from Kyiv. And Sam, first of all, these
developments at the Zaporizhzhia power plant are very concerning.
It's the first time in history, as we said, the plant was disconnected from the national power grid. What do we know of the situation at the plant
right now, whether or not it is secure?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this, Christina, is one of two doomsday scenarios. In this scenario, and it has come from
the position of -- I think all concerned, even the Russians dangerously close to this catastrophe. The main power line, the only power line that
exists, there were four, this is the only one that still works to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station was cut.
The Russians say it's as a result of a short circuit. The Ukrainians say it's as a result of Russian shelling and a fire. Now, that is dangerous,
because the power supply to the two main reactors that are functioning at the moment require -- drives the cooling system. There is a backup power
supply from diesel generators, but that obviously is not long-term sustainable and subject to diesel supplies and maintenance and so on.
This has been a scenario that has deeply worried the international community and the Ukrainians in particular that this could happen. The
Russians say and the Ukrainians agree that it has now been reconnected, but we don't know whether or not the electricity being generated now is still
being pumped into the Ukrainian network.
This is just one of the scenarios that could cause a meltdown. And recently, I interviewed the head of the Ukrainian Atomic Energy Authority,
and he outlined the other one. This is our report.
KILEY (voice-over): A fireman tests for radioactive fallout. It's an essential ritual repeated several times a day. It's safe for now. But the
war and the shelling that puts this city on the front line of a potential nuclear disaster continues.
(on camera): The plan over the last month has been that this city has been hit mostly at night. But in the last week, the locals are telling us that
there's been regular attacks during the day time. More or less, at exactly this time of day, around about 3 O'clock.
(voice-over): While communications are re-established, an officer explains where the shelling is coming from, pointing to three locations close to a
Ukrainian nuclear power station captured by Russia in March. And now, Ukraine's top nuclear official is raising fears that Russian trucks, which
have been parked inside the plant's turbine hall, could be laden with explosives or cause an accidental fire.
PETRO KOTIN, PRESIDENT, ENERGOATOM: And if it happens, then there will be a major fire in the turbine hall. And after that, it can actually -- but
the reactor --
KILEY (on camera): Essentially, are you saying that, that risks a meltdown of the reactor?
KOTIN: Yes, it could be. Because you know, you cannot stop this fire if it goes.
KILEY (voice-over): There's been a renewed exodus of civilians living under Russian occupation in the towns close to Europe's biggest nuclear
power plant. Safely in Ukrainian-held Zaporizhzhia, they consistently told CNN that Russian troops were bombarding locations close to the plant.
Shelling that Russia blames on Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The internet is switched off before it starts, probably so that nobody can film it. But we already know that if the
internet is down, we should expect Russian shelling in half an hour.
KILEY: Amid international demands that Russia leave the nuclear power plant and demilitarize the area, the Russian shelling from the power
station has increased. This is the result of one of 70 artillery and rocket strikes here in the last 24 hours, officials said. "They're shelling every
day, every day. It just happened to hit here. Good thing no one was at home or there would have been casualties", she says.
Russia has responded to international demands to demilitarize the power plant by adding troops. Inevitably, increasing the chances of a disaster
whether by accident or design.
KILEY: Now, the International Atomic Energy Authority, Christina, is now signaling that they are hopeful they may be able to get access to the plant
in perhaps in a few days. We'll believe that, frankly, when we see it because it's extremely dangerous area, it's right on the front line as my
report was saying there.
The Russians are firing missiles from that location out, the very least, and have been accused by Ukraine of shelling positions around it, trying to
make them look bad. The counter-accusations of course, is that the Ukrainians are shelling their own nuclear power station. Christina.
MACFARLANE: Yes, well, certainly, there is hope that they can still get through at some stage, especially under the current circumstances, Sam.
We've also seen some of these chilling pictures of cages being prepared to stage what's reported as show trials of potential prisoners of war in
Mariupol. What if anything do we know of Russia's plans for this?
KILEY: Well, since you recall the surrender of nearly 2,000 soldiers and others from the steel plant in Mariupol, when they gave themselves up, the
soldiers who performed very bravely for about 80 days against the Russians. They were predominantly, but not all from the Azov Battalion, they were
also Ukrainian marines.
Now, as far as the Russians have alleged, the Azov Battalion isn't part of the Ukrainian armed forces and is in fact a terrorist Nazi organization.
That is an absolute non-fact, that is not true. The Azov Brigade is part of the -- falls very strongly and entirely since 2016 within the Ministry of
Defense inside this country.
It has severed all kinds of links. It doesn't have any official links whatsoever with any kind of far-right groups at all. And the elements
within it, though, the soldiers were being threatened with prosecution by the Russians for terrorism. Now it would appear that they plan, it would
seem to go ahead with those prosecutions with these building of steel cages for holding of potentially for prisoners as part of these prosecutions.
Which the breakaway Donetsk -- so-called Donetsk People's Republic, the Russian proxy in that part of Ukraine is saying that they're going to
prosecute. Much like the prosecution of Britons and others who have been sentenced to death in the Donetsk People's Republic, again, accused of
being mercenaries in this case and terrorists.
Again, they were -- the Brits at any rate were actually also dual Ukrainian citizens and fully-signed up members of the armed forces. So, this is going
to be very problematic in terms of legal issues for the Russians. But of course, they could probably do what they want in the areas under their
MACFARLANE: Yes, absolutely. Sam Kiley, it's great to have you on all of this for us and the latest especially there from Zaporizhzhia this evening.
Thank you very much. Well, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is thanking the United States for its unwavering support in supplying both
security and financial assistance.
He spoke by phone with President Joe Biden a day after the U.S. announced a massive $3 billion aid package. It includes weaponry that Ukraine has long
been seeking, like this advanced medium to long range missile defense system. It's the same system that's used to protect the airspace over the
White House. Well, let's bring in CNN's Phil Mattingly for more. He's live from Washington. Now, Phil, do we know what conversation was had between
the two leaders in this call?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Christina, we have a sense at least of the top line. For a call that I think when you
talk about it with officials, they will acknowledge it was as much symbolic as it was substantive. recognizing the momentous occasion of this day, but
also as the president said himself in a statement yesterday, just how bitter-sweet it is, more than anything else, pledging support, continuous
support, and support that won't just last for the next few weeks or months, but years.
And I think you only need to look at that $3 billion weapons package to get a sense of that. The way that package is structured, some of those weapons
systems won't be delivered for years. That was intentional when you talk to White House officials to underscore the commitment from the U.S. side to
make clear that this isn't something that's just happening now, even as other countries in the world maybe waning in terms of their intensity, of
the support or their willingness to provide more money, more weapons systems.
The U.S. is not one of those countries. Now, we are told by Karine Jean- Pierre; the White House Press Secretary that the issue of Zaporizhzhia and the power plant there was brought up, there were no explicit details about
what transpired in that call, but It has been a source of significant and growing concern here inside the White House.
The president spoke with key allied leaders over the course of the last week or so. The White House National Security Council has been closely
watching everything that's been happening there. The White House position has always been the same. This is an area that just simply should not be
part of a war zone, as to whether they believe any progress will be made in what has largely been a position for stalemate over the course of the last
several weeks, White House officials aren't really weighing in at this point.
But you get a sense of the intent of the president with this call with President Zelenskyy, making clear U.S. support will continue and continue
for as long as it's necessary, Christina.
MACFARLANE: All right, Phil Mattingly there from Washington, thanks very much, Phil. Well, Myanmar has detained Britain's former ambassador to the
country, charging her with breaking immigration law.
Vicky Bowman and her husband were taken into custody Wednesday. The speculation, this is linked to new sanctions from the U.K. government
targeting Myanmar businesses linked to the ruling military junta.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Rohingya genocide carried out by Myanmar's military. CNN's Paula Hancocks has more.
VICKY BOWMAN, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO MYANMAR: I had never heard of Burma, I had no colonial grandfather --
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vicky Bowman was once the top British diplomat in Myanmar. She is now behind bars,
charged with breaking immigration laws. Charged by the military who seized power in a bloody coup in February last year.
MICHELLE BACHELET, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: If a former ambassador who has been detained and her husband, can you imagine what
happened to so many other normal people without influences, without a country who can help them like the U.K.
HANCOCKS: Bowman was ambassador from 2002 to 2006, marrying Burma's artist and former political prisoner, Htein Lin, making Myanmar her home. She
spoke of her husband's pro-democracy activism in 2017.
BOWMAN: He was very much part of those student demonstrations in '88. Which then, when the military took over, took him on a very long journey.
First, to the Indian border, to Manipur, and then to the Chinese border, and then back, and then through three jails.
HANCOCKS: Both are being held in the infamous insane prison according to the "Irrawaddy", her local news website, although, likely separated. A
prison filled with political prisoners and tales of beatings and torture. Bowman leads the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business, a non-
governmental group encouraging corporate responsibility.
PHIL ROBERTSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH'S ASIA DIVISION: Vicky Bowman was always about engagement. She was always about working with
people, building coalitions and trying to make the situation better.
HANCOCKS: The U.K. foreign office, well, not naming Bowman, says they are in contact with local authorities and providing consular assistance.
(on camera): The arrest comes as the U.K. increased sanctions against military-linked businesses in Myanmar on the fifth anniversary of the
massacres against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state. The U.K. is also joining a case against Myanmar in the U.N.'s top court, the International
Court of Justice which accuses the military of genocide. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
MACFARLANE: Well, more than 1 million of those Rohingya Muslims are still refugees living in neighboring Bangladesh, unable to return home. Those
still in the country are shunned and persecuted. When CNN spoke to U.N. Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet earlier, she also highlighted that
many dream of being repatriated. But sadly, the conditions within the country make this impossible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHELET: There is a huge number of people in need of humanitarian assistance. A huge famine, and a terrible economic and health and education
situation. So they're really having a really bad time.
So, I hope everything can be done to stop the violence from the Tatmadaw, and ensure that Myanmar can come back to a democratic process, where people
elect their leaders and they can live in peace, and in peace among all the different ethnic groups that live there in Myanmar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACFARLANE: Well, still to come tonight, the U.S. sends another message to Iran in the form of overnight airstrikes in Syria. Plus, the U.S. Justice
Department has now submitted recommended redactions on the Mar-a-Lago search affidavit. That may open the door to more details on why the FBI
searched Donald Trump's estate this month.
MACFARLANE: Now, the U.S. Justice Department had a deadline to give their proposed redactions to the affidavit behind the search at Donald Trump's
Mar-a-Lago resort. That deadline is now up. It passed just a little more than two hours ago with the Justice Department submitting its proposal
Now, a group of media companies including CNN is requesting that the judge unseal those submissions. We're also learning more about the government's
efforts to recover documents from Mr. Trump last year. Let's get straight out to CNN's Jessica Schneider. So, Jessica, I guess we're maybe one step
closer to understanding why the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: One step closer, Christina, but in the meantime, we'll be waiting. And the unfortunate thing is we
don't know how long we'll be waiting. So, you know, at least, we hit one mark here though, finally, from prosecutors came in under seal, not
available to the public just before that noon deadline about two hours ago.
And the Judge, Bruce Reinhart, down in Florida, he is now reviewing what DOJ has said that they believe is OK to make public. So, it's very likely
though, even though we haven't seen it, that most of the affidavit is blacked out with DOJ's recommendations, because they have made very clear
that there is little, if anything, that can be released, in their opinion, without compromising their ongoing criminal investigation into these
The judge though has repeatedly said he believes the public needs to know something. They need to be informed. So, to what you said, right after DOJ
filed, you know, several media outlets including CNN, also filed a motion with the judge to immediately make public whatever DOJ has submitted. So
we're waiting a decision on that as well.
You know, that way the public could see immediately, maybe, the extension redactions that DOJ is asking for. So, Christina, we'll see what the judge
decides here. He may agree with DOJ's extensive redactions and make those public. You know, he may disagree, and he may say more needs to be
revealed. If that happens, he'll likely give DOJ that time to appeal, which could only draw out this process for even longer and keep things from the
public view likely for several more weeks here, Christina.
MACFARLANE: So to -- so just so I'm clear here, Jessica, the circumstances under which the judge might move to unseal this are really depended here on
how much has been revealed of this affidavit and how much has been, you know, prohibited from what we're going to see. Is it dependent on that
SCHNEIDER: Well, it's really all up to the judge. So likely, right now, he's holding in his hand a lengthy affidavit. We know that because the
prosecutors have said that in court, it's lengthy, we don't know how long, but lengthy. And they have likely blacked out most of this documents. So
the judge could look at it and say, OK, if this is what DOJ agrees to, I'll release it.
But the judge has already said here, he is inclined to believe that more should be released than what DOJ is probably telling him. So, that's why
there could be this longer period of time where the judge sort of goes over it himself, because he's privy to the entire affidavit, and he could go
through and say, you know what DOJ, there's actually more that should be revealed here, and I'm telling you this is what I think should be revealed.
If that happens, Christina, the DOJ is going to have time to appeal this. So we're probably not going to see anything if he goes that route for a
MACFARLANE: Yes, a few more steps yet. Jessica Schneider, thanks for breaking --
SCHNEIDER: Yes --
MACFARLANE: That down for us. Thanks, Jessica. Well, the search for a better life in the U.S. is becoming increasingly deadly for migrants
crossing the border from Mexico. Officials say at least 218 migrants have died trying to come to the U.S. so far in 2022. One of the deadliest years
in recent memory. Rosa Flores has the story, but we want to warn you, her report does contain some graphic images.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This 22-year-old Mexican construction worker crossed into Texas with his brother last week,
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've been walking for three days without any food.
FLORES: The patches on his body.
(on camera): Now, did he get medical attention?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He did.
FLORES (voice-over): Signs paramedics tried to save his life. Migrants have tried entering the U.S. southern border, a record-breaking nearly 2
million times since October. And this man's tragic story is far from unique. Webb County medical examiner, Dr. Corinne Stern says, this year is
on pace to be the deadliest year for migrants crossing into this region of Texas in recent memory.
CORINNE STERN, MEDICAL EXAMINER, WEBB COUNTY, TEXAS: I am seeing an extreme increase in the number of border crossing deaths compared to other
FLORES: So much so, Stern recently did something she says she has never done in her 20-year career. She told officials in the 11 border county she
serves, that her office is at capacity.
STERN: And so we're asking them to store them at their funeral homes until we have a space available.
FLORES: And in Maverick County, one of the deadliest counties, says Stern, a funeral home there tells CNN, they're at capacity too. And with the
medical examiner not taking the deceased, they are now burying unidentified migrants.
(on camera): In the back of the county cemetery, there are 16 fresh graves. There were no funerals, no families, no flowers. All the graves are
marked with partial crosses made out of PVC piping. All of these are migrant Jane and John Does, except for one, there's a baby John Doe.
STERN: Less 63 --
FLORES: Stern says she has 260 deceased migrants in her custody. The majority died this year from drowning or hypothermia and are pending
TOM SCHMERBER, SHERIFF, MAVERICK COUNTY: There's a -- pulled her up --
FLORES: Despite the dangers, Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber says the arrival of migrants is not stopping and neither are the deaths. He
shows us postmortem photos, some too graphic not to completely blur, including of a child of just some of the migrant deaths in the past seven
SCHMERBER: This is across the area.
FLORES: And it's every day that you're finding --
SCHMERBER: Yes --
FLORES: Bodies --
SCHMERBER: Every day.
FLORES (voice-over): And then shows us --
(on camera): A three-year-old in this area?
SCHMERBER: This area.
FLORES: Where a three-year-old drowned Monday.
SCHMERBER: And was informed that he was taken out, gave him CPR, but then he died.
FLORES: Tuesday, our cameras were there as another body was recovered from the Rio Grande. This time, a man. Yards away dozens of migrants who had
just crossed the river, waited for border patrol, including two Cuban women in their twenties who did not want to be identified for fear it could
impact their immigration cases.
(on camera): How deep was the water for your daughter?
(voice-over): She shows us it was about waist-deep and then got emotional. When asked about children dying on the very river she had just crossed. She
says it was a tough decision for her daughter's future. Most likely, the same hopes and dreams this man had, his cut short. But Stern says he was
fortunate not to die alone.
STERN: His brother stayed behind, and was with him at the time, border patrol found him.
FLORES: Which means unlike the hundreds of other unidentified migrants in her custody, he will reunite with his family soon, says Stern, and has this
message for anyone thinking about crossing the border.
STERN: Politics aside, all these deaths are ruled an accident. An accident by definition as preventable, 100 percent. Stay home.
FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, along the U.S.-Mexico border.
MACFARLANE: Now, government officials say U.S. airstrikes in Syria have killed four enemy fighters and destroyed more than half a dozen rocket
launchers. The overnight strikes by U.S. Central Command were a response to rocket attacks that injured three American military service members on
The U.S. says it will continue to respond to any attacks on U.S. forces in the region. Well, CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann joins us now
live from Washington D.C. with the details. And Oren, this is the second strike in 24 hours against Iran-backed groups in Syria. What are CenCom
saying about this latest attack?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is all playing out very quickly as you pointed out over the course of the last 24 and 48
hours. And even though, Iran has denied involvement in at least some of this, it's clear the U.S. views Iran as ultimately responsible, even if
it's Iranian-backed proxies or militant groups in Syria where we're seeing this play out between those groups, and between U.S. forces that are
operating in Syria.
It begins, at least, over the course of those last 48 hours, with U.S. strikes on nine bunkers that are -- that U.S. says are used by Iranian-
backed groups for their operations, for the logistics and for their ammo storage. But from there, it all unfolds fairly quickly. Within 24 hours,
there are rocket attacks on bases, on two bases, that is, housing U.S. troops in Syria, one of those where U.S. Central Command says three U.S.
service members suffered minor injuries.
The U.S. responded fairly quickly in what was essentially an exchange of fire around that rocket attack, striking and killing not only two to three
Iranian-backed militants, the U.S. says, but also launchers and vehicles. Then, a further response from gunships, helicopters and howitzers where the
U.S. says they struck more launchers and were waiting for a final estimate on how many militants the U.S. says it killed.
Now, the key question, where does this go from here? We saw this play out so quickly, and it certainly seems right for continuation, but at least for
now, we're waiting to see how this continues and how it plays out, on what is an incredibly sensitive situation. Christina, the U.S. promises it will
respond to further provocations.
MACFARLANE: All right, Oren Liebermann, as you say, all of this playing out in a very sensitive time, including those ongoing negotiations around
the Iran nuclear deal. Of course, Oren Liebermann, thank you. All right, still to come tonight, the French president is in Algeria, hoping to turn
the page on a diplomatic route from last year.
Why France's ties with Algeria have now become so important. And the government of Sierra Leone doesn't want the world to see these scenes from
the streets of Freetown, and says it has a right to shut down the internet. We'll tell you what a CNN investigation has discovered.
MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Let's return to the war in Ukraine, where there are growing concerns over the show trials of prisoners of war, scheduled to
take place in Russian-occupied Mariupol.
My next guest is a Russian American journalist, author, activist and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin. Masha Gessen has recently reported from
the Ukrainian town of Bucha, where images of slaughtered civilians shocked the world. Masha joins me now.
Masha, thank you for your time this evening.
MASHA GESSEN, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR AND ACTIVIST: Thank you for having me.
MACFARLANE: So first, Masha, let's discuss and get your view on these show trials that are reported to potentially be taking place in Mariupol
because, as a long-time of observer of Putin and the Kremlin, why does the Kremlin feel the need to stage these show trials now, if indeed that's
Especially when you consider that this could potentially damage prospects for them for things like prisoners of war swap negotiations further down
GESSEN: Well, that's all hugely informative because we know that Putin is not interested in any kind of negotiated solution. Putin is not interested
-- contrary to what a lot of Western leaders think, he's not interested in finding ways to save face or ease sanctions or any of the other interests
that are ascribed him.
The only thing he's interested in is asserting his right to expand his empire, to take over all of Ukraine.
Now the show trial that -- preparations have been ongoing for in Mariupol for months. That show trial is clearly aimed at hollowing out the
understanding, the meaning of words "war crimes" and "justice," that international partners of Ukraine and Ukraine itself are using in good
What we have seen in Ukraine is an incredible number of war crimes, including targeting of civilians, including the crimes of aggression, so
that actually the word itself, potentially the crime of genocide perpetrated against the Ukranian people, the crime of starvation
perpetrated during the siege of Mariupol against the very people of Mariupol, the very town where they are planning to stage this show trial,
and the crime that is more difficult to classify, of forcibly removing more than 3 million -- Russia's own estimate -- of Ukrainian citizens to Russia.
So these are vast and very well-documented war crimes that will be prosecuted in both Ukrainian national courts and, quite clearly, in
international courts, including the International Criminal Court.
Russia is basically deploying its usual whataboutism and saying, no, you're the criminal, just as they've been saying you are the Nazi. And Russia, to
do this fast, reports are they will try to do it in the next weeks, possibly even days.
Precisely to get ahead of the story, precisely to make the actual trials, at least in the eyes of those who watch Russian propaganda, mean less.
MACFARLANE: So in essence, it's a tit-for-tat for how the war crimes or war trials are playing out in Ukraine itself.
I also wonder what your view is on whether or not the Kremlin is doing this to try to shape the narrative in Russia, using this as a pretext.
Does the Kremlin need to do that right now?
GESSEN: Yes and no. I don't think the Kremlin particularly needs a pretext. We have such an instinct to look at everything and say, oh, they are using
the murder of Darya Dugina as a pretext to escalate.
They don't need a pretext. They do have a story and the story is that Ukrainians are fascists. It's what the historian Tim Snyder (ph) very aptly
calls schizofascism. It's people who are acting like fascists, accusing other people, their enemies, of being fascists.
So that's exactly what Russia is doing. That falls into that narrative. So the idea for a tribunal actually was born even before Russian war crimes
came to light in Ukraine, so before April. And the idea was there from the start, because they are framing Ukrainians as Nazis, so they want to have
their own Nuremberg trial.
MACFARLANE: I see. And just to talk a little bit more about what you have seen on the ground there in Bucha, there's been so many shocking moments
during the six months of this war.
But the worst atrocities have been, we've seen played out in Bucha by Russian forces. You were there, I believe, in May, having a look at
investigating the ongoing prosecution of war crimes there.
How painstakingly slow is that process?
And what did you find were the practical difficulties that prosecutors are facing in bringing culprits to trial in Ukraine?
GESSEN: The remarkable thing is that it's not painstakingly slow at all. This is the fastest we have ever, in history, seen war crimes being both
investigated and prosecuted because Ukraine has already conducted several trials of prisoners of war and a couple of trials in absentia of people who
were credibly identified as having perpetrated war crimes.
It's an unprecedented situation, because, in some places, including Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv, Ukrainian investigators and international
investigators have had access to the sites and the evidence of war crimes almost as soon as the crime happened. This has never happened before.
We've also never seen this amount of video evidence, which allows investigators in many cases to identify individual perpetrators. At the
same time, the scale of crimes, when we talk about Bucha being the worst place, it's probably not the worst place.
It's just the place that Ukrainian and international investigators have had access to. From everything we can tell, it is actually representative of
what happens on Russian occupied territories in Ukraine.
And that, of course, is part of what makes these trials conducted in a timely manner so incredibly important because the world has to remember
what it means for Ukraine, for Ukrainian territory to be occupied by Russians.
When Western leaders, say let's have a negotiated solution, let's have Russia take -- keep what it's taken -- we have to remember what that means
for the people who lived in places like Mariupol.
What's actually happens to them?
MACFARLANE: So, Masha, just to conclude that thought, how hopeful are you that this time will be different for Russia?
We know they've avoided accounting for the crimes they've committed in the past in Syria and Chechnya.
The mere fact that you say this is happening so quickly, that these crimes are being prosecuted, things are moving ahead, how hopeful are you that
this time Russia and Russian atrocities will be held to account?
GESSEN: At the very least, this time, they will be thoroughly documented. And not only a small group of Russian human rights activists, as happened
with Chechnya, will have access to that documentation.
The documentation will be seen by the world, vetted by international experts. It will be known.
Are we going to see a time when Vladimir Putin and his closest allies, who are the actual architects of these war crimes, are we going to see a time
when they are brought to justice?
I certainly hope so. I don't know that I have confidence that it will happen. But this is the best chance that we've ever had of seeing that
happen. But of course, that depends on how committed the Western world's is to continue to support Ukraine, including in its efforts to conduct these
MACFARLANE: Yes, that's a big outlying question here. Masha, having seen it firsthand yourself, we really appreciate perspective tonight. Thank you for
GESSEN: Thank you.
MACFARLANE: The war in Ukraine has increased demand for North African gas, as the E.U. tries to phase out Russian energy. It's one of the main reasons
why French president Emmanuel Macron is now in Algeria.
He's on a three-day visit and just met with his Algerian counterpart. The French president is also hoping to turn the page on a diplomatic row from
last year over some comments Mr. Macron reportedly made. Paris correspondent Melissa Bell is standing by.
And, Melissa, France, like most of Europe or the rest of Europe, is in need of alternative sources of energy.
So will Macron be able to secure a deal from its former French colony?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, only last month, it was the Italian leader who went to Algeria in exactly this hope of securing extra, much
needed natural gas supplies ahead of the European winter.
And they managed to secure 4 billion cubic meters of Algerian natural gas. It is one of the top five producers in the world. Emmanuel Macron arrives,
looking, clearly, in the context of the Ukrainian crisis and the need all European leaders have for more.
But really, Elysee sources have been downplaying the hope that, first of all, a huge contract will emerge and, second of all, the hope that this
will fix France's problems when it comes to that, insisting on the fact that natural gas will be part of the conversation.
This is also about the memory that exists between France and Algeria. The colonial history of France and Algeria and particularly the very brutal
Algerian fight for independence from 1954 until 1962, when the country achieved independence.
And that remains extremely sore on both sides of the Mediterranean. There are questions of, for instance, how many people were lost in the Battle of
Algiers in 1957 that, to this day, poison relationships between Algiers and Paris.
For instance, the fate of the Algerians who fought on the French side. And these are historic questions that may seem very ancient but that still, to
this day, even as French presidents go to visit Algiers -- and they all do at some point -- make it a very delicate balance.
All the more so because the countries continue to share so much. The massive amounts of immigration there has been from Algeria since the
independence that, to this day, for Paris, remain a thorny issue that they have to deal with, with Algiers.
But yes, it's about natural gas. Downplaying that and talking instead about what they hope to achieve and how they might try to repair relations. You
mention the comments he made last year.
They caused a huge diplomatic row with Algiers breaking off diplomatic relations, recalling their ambassador because Emmanuel Macron had told a
group of students last year that it was about -- in a sense, the Algerian nation had been born in French colonialism.
This did not go down well and this visit is all about mending that, Christina.
MACFARLANE: A lot for Macron to overcome, it seems. Melissa, live from Paris. Thank you.
Still to come tonight, there are -- these are the streets of Freetown in Sierra Leone, where people are angry and hungry. We will have the story of
one man, who watched his friend die while trying to keep the peace.
MACFARLANE: Welcome back.
CNN has been investigating activity of the capital of Sierra Leone, after deadly violence in the streets was followed by a disturbing internet
crackdown by the government. Katie Polglase explains what's been happening and a warning: her report does contain some graphic images.
KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE RESEARCHER (voice-over): On August 10, in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, people took to the streets to protest a
worsening cost of living crisis. Rising food shortages have left over half the population without enough food to eat according to the World Food
Protesters held rocks, set buses alight. Authorities were quick to condemn the destruction which they said left eight officers dead with the president
of Sierra Leone labeling the protesters as terrorists.
There was no mention of the number of civilians killed, which Reuters reported as high as 21.
But it was the severe police crackdown both on the streets and online that has revealed worrying signs of a government suppressing freedom of speech.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Don't destroy the cars please. Move from here.
POLGLASE: The voice you're hearing is of 20-year-old Gibrilla Kojo (ph) sitting on his balcony. He calls for those running past to be careful and
not damaged the cars parked below. Just over an hour later, Gibrilla would be dead.
His friend, David, whose name we have changed to protect his identity, witnessed the shooting and says Gibrilla was shot in the neck by Sierra
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was totally harmless. He was not even part of the protest. He was t the balcony watching the protesters.
POLGLASE: David's videos of the events are rare and risky. He told CNN he believes it was the sight of him and his friend filming that made them a
target for police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moment before Gibrilla died, I told him that they were firing live rounds, we need to back off, we need to get inside. But he
insisted. He said they were firing rubber bullets. But it was live rounds.
POLGLASE: CNN analyzed the bullet casing found at the scene which was confirmed by weapons experts to be from live ammunition. The police have
made no comment on whether they did use live bullets during the protests.
David's filming two hours before Gibrilla's death reveals armed police standing on the streets below. You can see the red hats indicating it's the
Operational Support Division, an armed unit of the police which according to Amnesty International, has a track record for shooting unarmed
protesters dating back to 2007.
As other scenes of injured and bloody protesters across Freetown began to be shared on social media, the internet was cut off. By midday, just half
an hour after Gibrilla's death, NetBlocks recorded a total shutdown of the internet, activity NetBlocks identified as an intentional disruption.
The next day, a statement was issued by the government's department for cyber-security, warning that anyone spreading incendiary information online
could be punished with up to 20 years in prison.
And the basis for this threat was a new cybersecurity law introduced in 2021 and backed by the E.U., U.K. and the Council of Europe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To sign into law today the Cybersecurity and Crime Act.
POLGLASE (voice-over): The law had aimed to safeguard intellectual property and privacy online and was part of a broader initiative by the E.U. and
U.K. to fund projects across Africa that tackled cybercrime. In statements to CNN, the E.U. and U.K. delegations to Sierra Leone said they were
engaging with the government on freedom of speech and protest.
The delegation encouraged all measures which lead to dialogue and refrain from repressive measures, the E.U. said. And the Council of Europe said the
spreading of incendiary information is not listed in the offences under the act.
POLGLASE: Do you think it's what the U.K. and the E.U. intended for this law to be used by?
WISLAW GOZDZIEWICZ, FORMER LEGAL ADVISER, NATO: Definitely not.
I mean, neither the E.U. which is founded upon the basic principles of human rights and nor any democratic states in the world, including the
United Kingdom, would even consider an attempt to limit the freedom of speech in such a manner.
POLGLASE (voice-over): Reporters Without Borders told CNN any repressive provision of freedom of expression online must be repealed. And said they
called on authorities in Sierra Leone to highlight the fact the act should not interfere with the rights to freedom of expression.
And for many in Sierra Leone who spoke to CNN, they said this law made them fearful to use social media to document what they witnessed during the
August 10th protests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't want you guys to see it, the foreign medias. They don't want the foreign medias to be seeing these videos.
POLGLASE: Do you feel scared right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, yes. Of course, yes. I am actually expecting a physical assault.
POLGLASE (voice-over): Katie Polglase, CNN, London.
MACFARLANE: CNN reached out to the government of Sierra Leone for comment on the crackdown and the reaction to the internet Amnesty International
report. But there has been no response.
OK, still to come tonight, we will take you to Sudan, a country overwhelmed by this year's monsoons. That's after this short break.
MACFARLANE: Hi, there, welcome back to the show. Now all over the world, we are seeing stories of how climate change is changing the world we live in.
Today, we look at Sudan. It's a place where they are used to a rainy season but they have rarely seen anything like this. CNN's Zain Asher has more.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This year's rainy season in Sudan is off to a deadly start. With severe flooding killing scores of
people and leaving thousands of others homeless, according to official figures.
The country declared a state of emergency Sunday because of flooding across six states, including the River Nile state.
These disasters aren't new for Sudan. From May to October each year, the country faces heavy rains that devastate infrastructure and destroy crops.
But this year's rains and flooding have affected twice as many people and communities as they did last year.
One resident, who lives near the Nile River, described the destruction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The floods are heavy and instantly filled the streets of the neighborhood. And, then the alleys and into
houses, yards, rooms inside, balconies, kitchens and storage rooms, the water was heavy and running. Only a few managed to save their furniture.
ASHER (voice-over): Others in the village are worried that the rains and flooding will get worse in the coming weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Autumn has just started and people are worried that there will be more rains and there is no place to stay.
Not all families have shelters. And we are worried for the children's safety, as there are scorpions and snakes. People are worried about what
the heavy rain could bring with it.
ASHER (voice-over): Scorpions and snakes aren't the only things people should watch out for. One humanitarian official cautions that waterborne
diseases like cholera could increase as a result of the floods.
FARID ABDULKADIR, SUDANESE DELEGATION, IFRC: But at the moment, what is required is shelter material. That is including of tents, blankets,
trampolines for shelter.
But also the requirement also has to look at water and sanitation. Water has been contaminated. If you don't deal with the contaminated water, there
is a secondary disaster coming, which is outbreak of diseases.
ASHER (voice-over): With a month of rain still to come, relief agencies warn that nearly half a million people in Sudan could be affected by floods
this year, far higher than in recent years -- Zain Asher, CNN.
MACFARLANE: OK, finally Novak Djokovic has announced he won't be competing in the upcoming U.S. Open. The Serbian tennis star had remained
unvaccinated against COVID-19.
The current U.S. rules stipulate that any non-U.S. citizen must be fully vaccinated to enter the country.
Djokovic said on Twitter, "Good luck to my fellow players. I will keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete
again. See you soon, tennis world."
All right, thanks for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next.