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Isa Soares Tonight
Russians Pushback Against President Putin's Troop Mobilization; Ukraine Celebrates Prisoner Swap; EU Tries To Pile More Sanctions On Russia; Iranian Women Cut Their Hair, Protesting Death Of Mahsa Amini. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 22, 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, Russians push back against President
Putin. We are seeing protests and long lines to leave as Russia calls up hundreds of thousands of troops. Then Ukraine claims it exchanged one fan
of Russia for 200 warriors. We'll examine the huge prisoner swap and the morale boost that came with it.
Plus, as the European Union tries to pile more pressure on Russia, I will speak with the Greek prime minister in New York for the U.N.G.A. Good
evening everyone. Russians aren't giving a lot of latitude on showing this. But many are taking that risk now. The day after President Putin announced
the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reserves to join the war in Ukraine, thousands are protesting, as you can see.
They're all racing to leave the country. More than 1,300 people were detained in anti mobilization protests across Russia on Wednesday. One
monitoring group says some of the protests who were arrested are being drafted directly into Russia's military. And we are seeing long queues,
long lines of cars along Russia's border, such as this one. Huge crowds at the border checkpoint. And that is a border checkpoint with Georgia.
Matthew Chance gives us a closer look.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Suddenly, an exodus across Russia's borders. Social media now filled with
images like these near the country's southern frontiers of vehicles backed up out of sight. "Everyone is on the run from Russia", a male voice says.
Endless cars, it's mind-boggling.
In the west, towards Finland, border officials also reporting significantly higher traffic. Nearly 5,000 crossing in a single day, and more expected by
the weekend, as Russians make for the exits. Across Russia, there is a growing sense of alarm, even anger at the call up of reservists to fight
More than 1,300 protesters have already been detained, many of them women, terrified their husbands and sons will be killed. "I've got two kids of
conscription age", says this protester. "I brought them up alone. And I don't want to lose them", she cried. "And for what? Asks her friend? "Yes,
just so they can kill the sons of other mothers", she answers.
But the mobilization is taking place regardless. Images of reservists like these boarding a military transporter in the Russian far east, show how
many are heeding the call to arms. At assembly points, families are saying emotional goodbyes before their men. Some, apparently in middle age are
is what was always cast as a-limited special military operation feels more and more like a full blown.
SOARES: And now Matthew Chance joins me now. And Matthew, as your piece really laid out, the war has come home. I mean, how surprised are you by
what we're seeing? People fleeing. It speaks to the fear, doesn't it? Of what may be coming next?
CHANCE: Yes, it's actually, you know, really awful for people in Russia, I suppose, And in the sense that they sort of left the size. They'd consider
this conflict to be something that didn't affect them --
SOARES: Yes --
CHANCE: It's a remote, special military operation that was limited to their TV screens. But with this announcement by the Kremlin, to essentially
force people who haven't already volunteered to fight at the frontlines, to put on uniforms to give up their families and to go there. It's really made
it incredibly real for them, and it's really brought you home.
And this is the reaction we're seeing. People fleeing the country, people of middle age, their moms, their families protesting against the
conscription. And of course, the expectation is now, as that war grinds on, that indignation and that sour mood is going to intensify. And that's not
good for the Kremlin, which --
SOARES: Yes --
CHANCE: Always keeps an eye on popularity.
SOARES: Such a good point. Whether that shifts, that makes any difference at home with Putin, we should keep an eye on that. Matthew, great to have
you on the show, appreciate it. Well, as the horror of war continues really to unfold in Ukraine, we are seeing a brief picture of joy.
On Wednesday, Russia and Ukraine conducted a major prisoner swap. Russia released 215 people from its custody, including some foreign nationals from
the U.S., and U.K. fighting for Ukraine. In exchange, Ukraine released 55 Russian prisoners, including a prominent pro-Kremlin politician. Ukraine
defense official say Russia sent home more than a 100 of the fighters who defended the Azovstal, you remember, the steel plant in Mariupol.
The largest single release of fighters from Mariupol. Well, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says they were all heroes and their family
members are overjoyed. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YARYNA HERASHCHENKO, PARTNER OF RELEASED UKRAINIAN AZOV FIGHTER (through translator): Happiness, shock, tears, and joy. A whole spectrum of
emotions which can describe the good that took place on this earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's get straight to our Nick Paton Walsh who joins us live in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. Nick, I think it's fair to say that this
prisoner swap came as a surprise, given you know, just a day after Putin announced mobilization and threatened nuclear strikes. Your thoughts on
this swap, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I mean, clearly, it seems to have simply come out in Ukraine's favor. And it frankly belies the
notion that Russia is interested in its slogan, not leaving its own people behind. They seem to have essentially swapped 200 Ukrainian soldiers. The
defenders of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol, who they were, it seems on the root to try as in their minds, falsely, Nazi terrorists, swap them
for one very important person in Russia.
A former businessman and political player before the war here in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk, who's also the godfather of one of Putin's children. And
it seems also 50 or so Russian prisoners are swapped. Which significantly favored Ukraine in terms of the benefits that they got for their society.
But shows really how important one person in the elite can be to the Kremlin in these circumstances.
Now, people will also baffle frankly, as to how Medvedchuk was captured in the first place. As you've heard me say there, a godfather to one of
Putin's children, still it seems left behind in Ukraine after the invasion started. Not extracted by pro-Russian forces. And then captured in April.
It appears that he's been quite useful to Ukrainian Intelligence since then in terms of unearthing individuals, perhaps, within their own elite who may
have been assisting Russia, according to some Ukrainian officials.
And so, this swap has got him back into Russia, and that's extracted a lot of anger, it seems, from pro-Russian social media users who see the handing
over of these 200 Azovstal Steel Plant defenders who fought valiantly for weeks in that underground industrial complex during a brutal siege of
Mariupol, and who are now very publicly, very joyfully reunited with their families inside of Ukraine.
So, a startling move, frankly, and one that has occurred very quietly, very quiet side negotiations. Prisoner of war swaps normally ask some of the
lookers well out of public view until they're finally finished. But one that possibly may have been time to coincide with Putin's mobilization
announcement. We know he delayed that announcement, this may have been connected in some way. But overwhelmingly, it's gone in Ukraine's favor,
SOARES: Yes, 200 for 1 definitely raising eyebrows. But I think you and I had spoken previously about Viktor Medvedchuk. Just -- do we know at this
point, Nick, who may have been behind some of the dealings, the negotiations behind the swap?
WALSH: Yes, it's still that Saudi Arabia played a role here. Of course, Turkey seems to have been a central piece of territory which often is used
as a sort of a middle ground where people are comfortable. But it's at a time and a climate where the broader issue of diplomacy is being put very
much to the side.
And I think Ukraine feels the idea of peace talks with Russia right now is not something they can enter into honestly, because they've seen Russia's
history in Syria and elsewhere using diplomacy as simply a means to just buy time to allow themselves to continue with their military objective.
That's been the case for their diplomatic moves pretty much since 2014 when they first invaded Crimea and then invaded Donetsk and Luhansk afterward
through proxies. So I think people are deeply concerned about the use of diplomacy here. Although these side matters, as prisoner of war swaps so
often happen do -- appear to continue, both sides benefiting from that. I should point out though, not just fit to Medvedchuk past over to the
Russian side, 50 Russian prisoners of war seem to have been exchanged too, according to Russian officials.
But these things always clandestine. But here, publicly, we see Ukrainians significantly happier, frankly, than Russians about this swap. One man, the
key focus here. Isa?
SOARES: Important context there from our Nick Paton Walsh in Kramatorsk. Thanks very much, Nick. Well, in the past few hours, a key Security Council
meeting on the war in Ukraine took place at United Nations General Assembly between Russia, Ukraine, and the United States all in the same room. U.S.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says international order is being, quote, "shredded by Putin's aggression in Ukraine".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: How has this aggression against Ukraine by President Putin improved the lives or prospects of a
single Russian citizen? One man chose this war.
One man can end it. Because if Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: But after showing up an hour and a half late, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hit back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER, RUSSIA (through translator): The Kyiv regime owes its impunity to its western sponsors, first of all, Germany and
France, but also the United States. Over the past few years, the Kyiv regime has conducted a frontal assault on the Russian language, it brazenly
trampled on the rights of Russian and Russian-speaking people in Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: CNN's Richard Roth joins me from the United Nations General Assembly. Richard, great to have you on the show. So, we've heard as we
expected, condemnation of Russia's invasion and litany, I think, it's fair to say, of crimes being -- of Russia committing litany of crimes. But
Russia still has a seat in the Security Council. So what difference does this make?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: I don't know if it's fair to say he was late, when I don't think Lavrov intended to be there to begin
with. And then he left immediately after his speech. So, he didn't hear U.S. Secretary of State Blinken. He didn't hear the Ukrainian foreign
minister. A U.S. government official tells our CNN State Department team that Lavrov apparently couldn't bear to hear the clear and repeated
messages of condemnation of Russia's war against Ukraine.
He walked into the chamber just before his speaking slot, and left shortly afterward. Some sharp diplomatic criticism you don't often hear regarding
the Security Council meetings. We did hear from the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Kuleba, here at the Security Council table. He of course,
denounced Russia, said you can't kill us all off. And the foreign minister of Ukraine posed this thought about the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMYTRO KULEBA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, UKRAINE: Yesterday, Putin announced mobilization, but what he really announced before the whole world
was his defeat. You can't draft 300, 500,000 people, but he will never win this war. Today, every Ukrainian is a weapon ready to defend Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROTH: So, we saw what was generally some kind of verbal shoot-out though, it didn't live up to the billing, because Minister Lavrov of Russia left
the chamber entirely, never returned for the Ukrainians, as I mentioned. And thus, that's the period of the end of the speech where for seven months
now, we heard Russia, represented usually by its U.N. ambassador, speak out against what Ukraine said.
Then Ukraine fires back and sometimes the U.S. joins in. That didn't happen here at the U.N. Security Council, highest level senior meeting since the
war began seven months ago, Isa.
SOARES: Yes, look, yesterday, we heard, Richard, President Zelenskyy addressing, of course, at the U.N. via security -- via video address,
basically calling, urging the U.N., I think it was fair to say, to deprive Russia of its Security Council veto. I was speaking to the Irish Taoiseach,
and said this is the time really perhaps they should be looking at reform. What is the likelihood of this at all happening?
ROTH: I think it's slim. Of course, we don't know where the war is headed, anything is possible. The United Nations Charter established 77 years ago
has Russia as one of the permanent members of the Security Council. It is amazing that Russia, as that permanent member is waging war against a U.N.
member country, shattering really --
SOARES: Yes --
ROTH: What is the bedrock heart of the U.N. system. And that's what's got everybody upset also here.
SOARES: Richard Roth for us in U.N. -- in New York, thanks very much, Richard, good to see you. Still to come tonight, the EU is facing some
tough problems. Surging inflation, the energy crisis, and of course, the war in Ukraine. Ahead, we'll speak to the Greek prime minister. That is
SOARES: Now, with the United Nations General Assembly in full session, the meeting Thursday of the Security Council, the war in Ukraine is at the top
of everyone's agenda. Also on the table, as you can imagine, the global energy crisis as well as the skyrocketing inflation.
And the EU is presenting a united front in the face of Russia's war. The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis joins me now from the U.N.
Minister, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us here on the show. What we have been hearing today, various voices, of course, at
the U.N. Security Council, and we've heard condemnation of Russia's actions and the need to end it.
Meanwhile, Putin doesn't -- hasn't budged, he's doubling down. How should Europe respond, Minister, to Putin's litany of crimes here?
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, PRIME MINISTER, GREECE: Sorry, Isa. I have some problems hearing you. Could you please repeat the question?
SOARES: Of course. My question is, we have seen, of course, condemnation of Russia's actions at the U.N. today. But we have also seen Putin doubling
down. How should Europe respond here?
MITSOTAKIS: By staying the course. So, we have been very forceful, in terms of making the case for imposing draconian sanctions upon Russia. We
know these sanctions work, but they need time to impose real hardship upon the Russian economy. And in the meantime, of course, what we need to do,
Isa, is to make sure that we protect our populations, our businesses, our households from the rising cost of energy.
As Russia has made it a point to weaponize natural gas, the price of which has skyrocketed and has serious implications, in terms of the cost of
energy for the entire European continent.
SOARES: Yes, and we'll talk about that in just a moment. But we are expecting to hear there of another round of sanctions. Eighth package, I
think is -- of sanctions from the EU. Can you give us any details of what that would include? Will it include a plan to cap Russian oil, Minister?
MITSOTAKIS: I'm not ready to comment on the eighth package of sanctions because we're not there yet. Of course, it's a topic that is being
discussed currently at the technical level until it is actually presented to the European Council. But what I can tell you, Isa, is that the seven
packages that we have already put in place constitute a very significant intervention, in terms of imposing significant hardship upon Russia.
But as I told you, we need to be certain that we stay the course. We need to maintain the cohesion of European societies ahead of a very difficult
Winter. And frankly, we need to also be more aggressive in containing the impacts from the rising cost of gas. Greece has been at the forefront of
lobbying for a cap on all the gas that is currently traded in Europe, not just the Russian gas.
I think this proposal is gaining more traction and we are also looking forward to more specific recommendations by the commission on how we can
confront this weaponization of gas by Russia.
SOARES: I know you can't tell me what is in the package. Can you tell me what you think ought to be in this next round of sanctions? I mean, and are
all 27 nations here on board? I'm thinking here of Hungary.
MITSOTAKIS: Well, I can't speak for Hungary, but certainly we need all countries on board.
It's no secret that Hungary has voiced significant concerns about adding to the -- to the existing package. What I can tell you is, we want to make
sure that whatever sanctions, additional sanctions we imposed on Russia should hurt the Russian economy more than they hurt the European economy.
So there is a menu of options on the table.
But it's not like we have, you know, tons of options that we have currently not explored. I think most of the sanctions that one can contemplate have
already been imposed.
SOARES: Let's talk about really the impact that this is having on Europe and the cost, obviously, of the energy crisis that you were talking about
them, Minister What impact has this had on Greece?
MITSOTAKIS: Well, I think all European countries have been struggling with the --
SOARES: Yes --
MITSOTAKIS: Fact that the cost of energy, primarily the cost of gas, has skyrocketed. And of course, as you know, there is a direct transmission of
the cost of gas into the price of electricity. So we have to -- we had essentially to deal with a double problem. What we've done in Greece, and I
think we've been the pioneers at the European level, is to put in place rather sophisticated mechanisms which essentially captures the windfall
profits of the electricity producers at the source.
Then we direct those profits into a special solidarity fund, in order to help us subsidize the prices of electricity and also natural gas. So, we've
told our people that they will be paying more for energy, but we are trying to absorb as much as we can, in order to make sure that the increases in
the cost of energy, in light of what is going to be a difficult Winter, are not going to be exorbitant.
This is the logic that the European Union is also adopting. So I think they've looked at what we've done in Greece. We have proven that this
method actually works. So every single day, we are actually capturing millions and millions of windfall profits, and directing them towards this
An I think that the European Union is going to recommend that all European countries use a similar arrangement. So, this is a first line of defense to
ensure that we make a market intervention, which, in my mind, is absolutely necessary when we deal with these extraordinary situations.
SOARES: And as you were talking, Prime Minister, we were seeing some of the images of the Greek parliament. I think it was in different
municipalities, they've had their lights turned off. Is this something that you will continue doing?
MITSOTAKIS: Well, I mean, we all at the same time, we all need to be sure that we need to consume, to conserve as much energy as possible. And that
is why, in our subsidy scheme, we actually reward people in case they reduce their electricity consumption by 15 percent. So, it is important to
send the signal that we all need to team up in this effort.
The government is going to do its part, but we also -- all need to see how we can reduce as much as we can. The consumption of energy -- of energy,
the consumption of electricity, the consumption of gas. So, there will be interventions also when it comes to essentially paying businesses for not
producing, that is not consuming gas.
So, we're talking about a concerted effort to make sure that Putin's effort to weaponize gas and to impose unnecessary pain upon European society
SOARES: And we have seen unity within the EU, vis-a-vis the war in Ukraine. We have also seen not just surging gas prices, but also cost of
living crisis. So, how much appetite, Prime Minister, is there at home to continue supporting the war financially, given, of course, the financial
MITSOTAKIS: Well, it's the cost of energy that has driven global inflation, Isa. So this is -- this is a real problem, and that is why in
Greece, on top of what we do on the energy front, we've also announced a support package for more vulnerable households to help them with the cost
of living crisis, in general.
We are in a position to do that because the Greek economy has performed extremely well over the past year. I expect growth in Greece to exceed 5
percent. And this is giving us the budgetary space to be able to support more vulnerable households. But of course, we constantly need to make the
case of why we need to support Ukraine, and why we cannot essentially compromise with the Russian blackmail.
Because we need to send a signal that this is not just about Ukraine, this is about any authoritarian leader who thinks that the wars can be changed
by force. So there is, I think, a broader message to be communicated by the international community when it comes to standing up with Ukraine against
Russia in this unjust war.
SOARES: And Prime Minister, I want to move away, if I can, from energy, and focus really on accusations being made by Turkey. Accusations of crimes
against humanity, and question of migrants. Your response here?
MITSOTAKIS: I mean, this is a completely preposterous claim, Isa. Greece has saved tens of thousands of people at sea. Just today, we actually had
two shipwrecks. We saved more than a 100 people, amongst them, many children. So to accuse Greece of crimes against humanity -- and this
accusation actually coming from a country that has a track record of weaponizing migrants for political purposes is completely absurd.
I should remind you and your viewers what happened one and a half year ago in March 2020, when President Erdogan openly encouraged tens of thousands
of desperate people to cross into Europe, into Greece, and into Europe, in order to put pressure upon the European Union.
So, it's not us who have been weaponizing migrants for political purposes. We have an obligation to protect and defend our borders. But with full
respect to fundamental rights.
SOARES: Yes --
MITSOTAKIS: And every time there is a single person who is in need of being saved at sea, our coast guard has stepped up, and as I told you,
today, we rescued more than a 100 people at sea. So, it is a complete reversal of reality. And I'm really disappointed at this sort of constant
war of fake news. We should be able to sit down with Turkey and discuss as civilized neighbors and not incorporate on migration.
I've been the first who had said that Turkey has an important role to play when managing the migration crisis. But this is certainly no way to sort of
-- to conduct international affairs on the part of Turkey.
SOARES: But Prime Minister, why would -- just help us understand, why would Turkey or President Erdogan do this? Why would -- what does Turkey
get from these comments?
MITSOTAKIS: Look, I'm in opposition to know what President Erdogan thinks. And whether this is, you know, simply a domestic play. But what I can tell
you is that, over the past months, we've seen a crescendo of Turkish rhetoric directed -- primarily directed against Greece with completely
baseless, preposterous allegations, challenging the sovereignty of Greek islands.
We've said very clearly that this pattern of rhetoric is unacceptable. There's only one playbook for solving differences amongst states, and that
is a strict adherence to international law, and in our case, to the law -- adherence to the law of the seas. And we constantly encourage Turkey to sit
down and discuss based on those principles.
I mean, after all, we are neighbors and we need to find a way to resolve our disputes in a -- in a civilized manner.
SOARES: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, appreciate, sir, taking the time to speak to us. Thank you.
MITSOTAKIS: Thank you very much, Isa.
SOARES: Thank you. Well, earlier, I spoke to the Irish Taoiseach Michael Martin told me why he thinks Russia's actions in Ukraine have revealed the
need for fundamental U.N. Security Council reform. Have a Listen to this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MARTIN, PRIME MINISTER, IRELAND: There is something untenable and unacceptable about the fact that a permanent member of the Security Council
has essentially undermined the most fundamental way, the principles of the U.N. Charter, has been the aggressor here, no question about that, an
The scale of which is completely unnecessary, and without any moral basis. So, that does raise fundamental questions about the structures of the
United Nations and the need for reform, particularly around the abuse of the veto.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And tune in tomorrow for that full conversation where we discuss the potential next round of EU sanctions against Russia and the future of
Brexit. Still to come tonight, protests are spreading across Iran, some are turning violent. Mahsa Amini's family is speaking to CNN about the young
woman's death in police custody that has sparked the unrest.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.
Iran's government is cracking down on nationwide protests over the death of a young woman in their custody. Officials claim 22-year-old, Mahsa Amini
died of a heart attack last week. But her father accuses authorities of lying about her death.
These protests, which have been spreading for days now, are the biggest we've seen in Iran since 2019. A witness says protesters clashed with
police in the capital on Wednesday. At least eight people have been killed across the country.
As of now, according to Amnesty International. Our Jomana Karadsheh spoke to the woman's family.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The world knows her as Mahsa. To her family, she was the kind and shy Geena (ph). That is her
Kurdish name. Her cousin in Norway sharing these family photos with CNN of happier times from their childhood in Iran.
DIAKO ALI, MAHSA AMINI'S COUSIN: She was a very happy girl, living in a not so good country, with dreams that we don't maybe know about. But very
respectful and very kind, good hearted; took care of her mother and father.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Amini's death after being taken into custody by the morality police last week has sparked unprecedented protests, calls for
accountability for her death have turned into cries for freedoms this generation of Iranians has never known, with women at the forefront of the
protest, burning the head scarves they've been forced to wear for decades.
ALI: It makes me sad and happy in one way because, it is sad that someone's life has to go away for these things to start. And I know that when they
demonstrate in Iran, it is not like if we demonstrate in America or in Norway or in Sweden. They are risking their lives.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Amini's family is demanding justice. They do not trust the government's investigation. They want the truth. They accuse
authorities of covering up. Last week police released this edited CCTV video. They say it shows Amini at the so-called reeducation center, where
you can see her collapsing.
Police say she was taken because she did not abide by their strict Islamic dress code.
They claim the 22 year-old appeared unwell, had a heart attack and collapsed into a coma. She died in hospital three days later.
Family members say they saw her beaten up by the morality police as she was dragged away. It was the last time they saw here awake. They say doctors
told them she had severe head injuries, swollen limbs and had a heart attack.
ALI: There are no heart disease or anything. And it was damage to her head, like she was bleeding out her ear.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Violent acts of repression by this notorious force, known as the morality police, have been on the rise, according to the U.N.
This video from an activist group purports to show those abuses.
CNN cannot independently verify the circumstances of this video or when it was filmed. The fury on Iran's streets has been years in the making and
Amini's death appears to have been the final straw.
ALI: I want the world to know that she was a good person. Her life did not end for nothing. I hope this can start something to maybe toward to get a
better Iran, a more free Iran. And I am going to start crying.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Diako's overcome with emotion, hopes for the homeland he hasn't seen in more than 10 years and the pain of a family
grieving their beloved Geena (ph) -- Jomana Karadsheh, CNN Istanbul.
SOARES: I want to bring in Maziar Bahari, the editor of IranWire, a pro- reform activist outlet.
Maziar, thank you very much for joining me. It's clear that she has become, quite rightly, a symbol of defiance. Give me a sense of what you are
hearing from your colleagues and friends in Iran.
MAZIAR BAHARI, EDITOR, IRANWIRE: Well, we knew that this situation was not tenable. People have been disenchanted with this government for at least
the past two decades, at least from since 2009, since the Green movement, when millions of people quietly came to the streets and asked for reforms.
People of Iran are becoming poorer; the government is becoming more oppressive and the gap between the government and the people is widening.
And I think Iran is at a watershed moment right now.
Young women and young men come to the streets and say, death to the supreme leader of Iran, it means the supreme leader of Iran has no legitimacy. And
I think what happened to Mahsa Amini, it was something very iconic.
It was a trigger that was going to happen, maybe by accident. People sympathize with her. People identify with her. For many Iranian women, she
went through what they go through every day. They are going through discrimination at school, at workplace.
They don't have many rights, according to the Islamic law in Iran. And the police can arrest them for even showing a little bit of their hair. And,
tragically, in some cases, like Mahsa, they can die.
And many Iranian parents, older people, they also identify with Mahsa's plight because she could be their daughter. And that is why thousands of
people, from what we see in these videos, thousands of people or maybe hundreds of thousands of people have come to the streets all across the
country, all 31 provinces of Iran, and had been chanting, death to the dictator.
The situation is really not tenable. I'm not sure what's going to happen to these demonstrations. Maybe the government will be able to suppress it by
But that will be temporary, that will be a temporary measure. People will come to the streets again and, in the future, after these events, we will
see that the gap between the government and the people will be even wider than it is now.
SOARES: What you are saying is that this speaks to kind of the wider discontent, really, that's been bubbling under the surface for years. You
pointed out, of course, the men as well joining the protest. We have been here before.
So how does this compare?
BAHARI: This is the first time it's a women-led movement. This is, we can call it, first feminist movement in Iran. This movement started by women;
it is led by women and it will be led by women.
Men, like myself, we have been disappointing people of Iran. Women of Iran, especially and I think people of Iran, especially women, they need change.
They need to be in positions of power and I think it's their right.
It's their historical right to be in this position, to put the men aside and be the leaders in their country, because they have been second-class
citizens of the country since the beginning of this government, the Islamic government, since 1979.
According to the Iranian laws, women, they do not have many rights. And, you know, women, they are just asking for equality. The main slogan in this
is, women, life, freedom. These are the three things that people of Iran, whether they are men or women, they want to be respected.
Women need to be strengthened, life, the fact that people's lives are precious, that must be respected. And people's freedom in their individual
lives and in their social lives must be respected as well.
SOARES: We know that Ebrahim Raisi is currently in the U.S., at the UNGA taking place.
Do you think things will change once he is back in the country?
Do you think the crackdown will intensify?
BAHARI: No, not at all because Raisi is basically a lackey for the supreme leader of Iran, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces. Ebrahim
Raisi, as the president of Iran, has proven to be inefficient, inept and out of his depth since he came to power a couple of years ago.
He has no respect, even among the Iranian establishment. The main leader, the main power in Iran lies in the hands of the ayatollah, Ali Khamenei,
the supreme leader of Iran. He's the one who's deciding what should the Revolutionary Guards do, what should the police do.
He assigns the heads of all those different forces. He is the man in charge. Raisi basically, he started his career as a killer. He became a
judge in 1980, when he was only 20 years old. He was in charge of prisoners. He knew how to sentence prisoners to death and kill captives.
He's not even a good killer, in a sense, because he has not been in a battle. He's not been in any wars. He just knows how to kill captives.
And in 1988, of course, he was one of the three panel who were responsible for the killings of 5,000 people. So whether Raisi is in New York, in Sao
Paulo, Jakarta or Tehran, does not matter at all.
SOARES: Well, that CV itself is enough to raise hairs on the back of my back, anyway. Thank you very much. Maziar Bahari, really appreciate it.
Thank you very much, sir.
Well, CNN's chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour, was supposed to interview the Iranian president Thursday in New York. This would have
been Ebrahim Raisi's first interview on the United States soil.
But that interview, well, it did not happen and they told Amanpour that the president wanted to wear her a head scarf in unusual circumstances.
Amanpour spoke about the situation a few hours ago. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I have to say that this has been going on much, much more stringently since the election of
this current government, very hardline government in Iran; comes after the more reformist government of President Rouhani.
And the women are always the barometer. And this government has chosen to crack down hard on social -- you know, social norms in society.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And you, Christiane, experienced that more stringent nature itself. You were actually supposed to interview the
Iranian president there in New York at the U.N. Tell us about why this didn't happen.
AMANPOUR: Well, Brianna, it's very unsettling because we were going to have the first exclusive here in New York.
He'd already done an interview in Iran with "60 Minutes," where the headscarf was also an issue. But there, because it is the custom, one
always does wear the headscarf when one's there. That's just -- otherwise, you couldn't operate as a journalist.
Here, in New York or anywhere else outside of Iran, I have never been asked by any Iranian president -- and I have interviewed every single one of them
since 1995, either inside or outside Iran -- never been asked to wear a headscarf.
After hours of getting this interview ready, having pretalks with the president's officials, giving them sort of an idea of what we wanted to ask
about -- not questions, obviously, but an idea, they knew exactly -- we wanted to talk about the nuclear deal.
We wanted to talk about Iran's support for Russia against Ukraine and, most importantly, we wanted to talk about the violation of human rights.
At the very end, they come up with this, you know, it's a religious month of mourning and we need you to wear a headscarf.
And I very politely declined on behalf of myself, and CNN, and female journalists everywhere, because it was not a requirement and it was lobbed
at us at the very last minute. And very unfortunately, they decided to pull -- you know, pull the interview.
SOARES: Well, Christiane was asked what she thought of what was behind the Iranian president's decision. This is her take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I think, if I could just guess -- and how do I read it, I think that they -- he did not want to be seen with a female without a headscarf
in this moment, either because he calls it a religious month or because people would say, how come he's sitting down with an -- you know, a foreign
journalist, who's not wearing a headscarf?
And yet, inside Iran, they're cracking down on young women who are not wearing their headscarves.
But the fact of the matter is, the women are wearing their headscarves. Sometimes, in protest, they take them off. But they -- the authorities --
and I know because I've been there and seen it -- each year they change their -- you know, their boundaries and their lines. Sometimes the
headscarf has to be here. Sometimes it's OK if it's here.
You just never quite know what the parameters are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: The Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, is speaking to the media right now, as you see from New York. I just wanted to show you these live
pictures. Of course, we will monitor and bring you any news, of course, that comes out of that press conference there from Ebrahim Raisi.
Now the Israeli prime minister spoke at the United Nations General Assembly a short while ago, calling for a two-state solution in the Israeli
Palestinian conflict. Yair Lapid is the first Israeli prime minister to openly support this since 2016. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YAIR LAPID, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Despite all the obstacles still today, a large majority of Israelis support the vision of the two-state
solution. I am one of them.
We have only one condition, that a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one; that it will not become another terror base from which to
threaten the well-being and the very existence of Israel; that we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And still to come right here on the show, the controversial transport of migrant families in the United States. We take a close look at
the escalating dispute and how cities are scrambling to provide aid to the new arrivals. That is next, you are watching CNN.
SOARES: Welcome back. Uganda is coping with a new Ebola outbreak.
SOARES: Health authorities have been tracing, as well as screening, procedures in place after confirming seven cases, including one death, from
a relatively rare Sudan strain of the virus. Seven additional deaths are being investigated.
Officials believe that the epidemic started earlier this month in a small village deep in central Uganda.
Buses filled with migrant families continue to arrive in New York City, sent north from border states. A spokesperson from the New York mayor's
office says, almost 100 more people, including 30 children, were aboard two buses that arrived earlier on Thursday.
They are being given food, water and clothing after making the journey north. We will stay on top of that story for you.
Hurricane Fiona is barreling down on Bermuda, the category 4 hurricane is due to pass just west of the island early on Friday. The storm left at
least five people dead across the Caribbean.
And more than 1 million people in Puerto Rico and in the Dominican Republic are still without power and they are still without running water.
And still to come tonight, a reunion of rivals, this time playing on the same side of the net. We will share Roger Federer's excitement as he
prepares for his final professional match. That is next.
SOARES: Now NASA engineers say, the unmanned Artemis moon rocket could launch as soon as Tuesday, depending on the results of yesterday's fueling
test at the Kennedy Space Center.
They are working on a problem with leaking liquid hydrogen, which forced NASA to scrub its second attempt to launch earlier this month. Mission
engineers will go over the test results and could confirm the launch date over the weekend.
SOARES: And then finally, an amazing discovery. A Palestinian farmer in Gaza uncovered a mosaic, as you can see there, believed to be at least
1,300 years old. Suleiman al-Nabahin and his son were planting trees in his orchard in a refugee camp, when the son's ax hit something hard.
They then found mosaic panels of birds, look at how beautiful they are, and drawings dating back to the Byzantine Era. The farmer says, the ancient
mosaic belongs to every Palestinian.
Just beautiful. And don't forget, of course, you can catch up with interviews as all of the analysis from the show online. Go to my Instagram
at Isa Soares CNN, as well as my Twitter feed. The details are on your screen.
Thank you very much for your company. Just stay right here, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is all next and I shall see you tomorrow. Have a wonderful day,