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Natalia Gaidei Shares Her Story of Survival; Lying to get Extra Vaccine Doses; Polish President Speaks of Genocide. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 07, 2022 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live in western Ukraine, where air raid sirens are actually going off. This is the air -- the all clear that we are getting, actually. Air raid sirens went off just here several minutes ago and this is the end of the period of warning. So we'll be keeping an ear out for that continuing on.

We have seen the horrors of what took place in the town of Bucha, not far from Kyiv, after the Russians withdrew from the outskirts of the city. Our next guest, Natalia Gaidei, was there, and she survived for 14 terrifying days in a cellar with many other people as the Russian military took over her town and eventually she was able to escape to Germany to safety where she is joining me from now.

Natalia, I'm so thankful to be speaking to you.


I'm so thankful that you are safe there in Germany and able to discuss this with us.

I know you spent two weeks in a basement. I also know that you would speak up from time to time to see what was happening outside. Can you tell us what you saw?

NATALIA GAIDEI, SURVIVED RUSSIAN OCCUPATION OF BUCHA: Yes. First of all, thank you very much. And I'm very grateful for the opportunity to talk on a big public because apart from the war that is real, war with real attacks, with real missiles, there is very big, huge information war. And it didn't start a month ago. It has been lasting for many years.

And I want to introduce that I'm the one that Putin and his army came to us to say it because ethnically I'm Russian and I was born in Russia. But all my life I have been living in Ukraine. And Ukraine is my -- I -- actually, before I thought that I had two motherlands. But now I understood that Ukraine is in my heart and Ukraine is my motherland.

So, we spent, together with other people. There were about 50 -- 70 people. We spent for ten days in the cellar in the very center of town of Bucha. There -- were 10 children among us and the youngest one was eight months old and the oldest probably it was my mom, and she is 70.

And besides there was a woman who was pregnant on that 39th week of pregnancy. And for the first days it was impossible to get through to the hospital because the hospital was on the other side of the main road. It's the (INAUDIBLE) and all of the back roads, all of the fighting were happening there in that main road.

And we were very lucky because we were staying in the very center of the town. And we had two big supermarkets nearby. And our men were very brave because they got out of the cellar and cared about carrying all (ph) their families. They brought us food from the supermarket that had been broken by the Russians because they were hungry. They didn't have any food supplies. And they just simply stole the food from our shops and they destroyed our shops and everything.

And when I heard mostly there were (INAUDIBLE) troops in Ukraine. And we learned that -- about that from the news. We just -- I was afraid of getting out, of course, because I know how they treat women and children.

KEILAR: Yes. Yes.

GAIDEI: That's why I most --

KEILAR: Natalia, of course. And if you could tell us a little bit about that. Because I understand as you spent most of your time in the basement, you would, on occasion, sneak up I'm sure to see what was going on. What did you see out on the streets?

GAIDEI: So mostly I heard -- we heard missiles. We heard tanks. And sometimes it was -- the cellar -- the conditions were just awful. We had a thermometer there and the temperature was not more than plus 10. It was really cold. And the first two nights we spent sleeping in plastic -- just on the plastic chairs. And it was incredibly cold. And I cannot imagine how the children could feel at that moment.

And there was a toilet organized in the cellar, but it was so -- so unusual for normal people who are civilized who are getting used to normal conditions. And sometimes I got up to the -- to my mom's flat because we were staying in the cellar of her local flat. And we went -- we went there It was impossible just to stay. I was afraid of -- because I saw with my own eyes, I saw some fightings between the troops.

And besides on them -- in them block of flat that was closed to the -- because our -- we -- again, we were lucky again. The -- our block of flats was a little bit further from the main road. But the very first block of flats, the Russian tanks shot one flat and there was a big fire.


On the first day, there were three flats burned. And in the cellar of that block of flats, there were people. And the smoke went down to the cellar, and they couldn't breathe any more. And besides the pipes, there were plastic metal pipes that they started melting. The people couldn't stay there. And they just moved to our cellar.


GAIDEI: And besides on the seventh floor of this block of flats, there was a disabled woman. And she was staying in a wheelchair. And, of course, she couldn't -- and it was the biggest panic probably over that situation. And, again, our brave men -- our brave men just ran upstairs and just saved her.

KEILAR: It's -- Natalia, it is -- it is unbelievable, I will tell you, what you have been through and also the bravery that you speak of, of people running out to rescue other people so that they could bring them down into the safety of the basement where you were.

GAIDEI: Our people --

KEILAR: We are so glad you are safe. We are sorry what you -- we are so sorry for what you have been through.

GAIDEI: Yes. Thank you.

KEILAR: And I really thank you -- I really thank you for joining us this morning. Thank you.

GAIDEI: Thank you.

KEILAR: The U.S. is ratcheting up sanctions against Russia in response to the civilian atrocities seen in Ukraine, but is it enough.

Plus, back in the United States, some vulnerable Americans now admitting they lied to get extra vaccine doses. What they're telling CNN, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, Covid on the march among the Washington, D.C. elite. It is possible the swanky gridiron club dinner could have been a super spreader event. More than a dozen people who attended last Saturday have tested positive now. That includes two members of the Biden cabinet, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. A wave of new cases has infected at least six people in the inner circle of the administration, including Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Second Gentlemen Doug Emhoff. The White House says it is taking steps to keep President Biden from getting infected. That includes mandatory testing to those who come in contact with him and social distancing during meetings when possible. The White House says it is not considering a return to pandemic era restrictions.

So, this morning, some immune compromised Americans are admitting to either misleading or flat out lying to health care providers in order to receive extra coronavirus vaccine doses. That was before the government granted official approval. They also say they would do it again in a heartbeat. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with this.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, it's so interesting talking with these immune compromised folks. They said think back to a year ago as delta was raging, the numbers were growing, or coronavirus was ranging. They said they were petrified that they were going to get Covid-19. And they started to see that studies out of the U.K., Israel, the U.S., France, were showing that two doses of the vaccine just weren't creating antibodies for many people like them. But that was the rule, you could only get two doses. But if you lied, you could get three doses. Just show up at a pharmacy or wherever and say I'm here for my first dose. So, as they saw these studies, they started to lie. And they said they would do it again.

Let's take a look back a year ago at this chronology. So on May 5th of last year, a study out of Hopkins, led by Dr. Dori Sega (ph), showed that after two shots nearly half of transplant patients, who are, of course, immune compromised, had no antibodies at all from two shots and some immune compromised people said that's enough for me, I'm getting a third one.

Then on June 15th, a study showed from the same group that after three shot nearly half of those patients did produce antibodies and there were no safety problems.

It wasn't until August 12th, John, that the FDA and the CDC said, OK, you can go ahead and get third shots. And so I asked folks at the CDC, what do you think about this that people were lying? A senior CDC physician told me, look, we knew. We knew that this was happening. And in an ironic twist, when they finally did say OK to third dose in August, they were relying on data from those very people who got the shots against the rules. That data was studied by the folks from Hopkins and the CDC and the FDA really relied upon it to say, oh, look, it seems to work for some people and it seems to be safe. So, an ironic twist that it's the folks who broke the rules that helped make the rules later on.


BERMAN: How about that.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: A mayor in Ukraine kidnapped by Russian forces, now released in a prisoner exchange. What was it like to be in Russian captivity?

Plus, a CNN exclusive. The Polish president accuses Russia of genocide.


PRESIDENT ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLAND (through translator): It is hard to deny this.

The goal of that invasion is simply to extinguish the Ukrainian nation.




KEILAR: World leaders are outraged by the atrocities in Ukraine. The horrific images of civilians brutally killed in cities like Bucha have Ukrainian President Zelenskyy accusing Russia of genocide.

Polish President Andrzej Duda says the allegation is hard to deny.

CNN's Dana Bash sat down for an exclusive interview with President Duda and she is joining us now from Poland.

Dana, what did he tell you?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he said that he speaks to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, on a daily basis. Sometimes multiple times a day. Sometimes late at night, which is the only chance that President Zelenskyy has to call friends and allies and colleagues.

And President Duda of Poland, who I spoke with, said because he knows his colleague across the border so well, that when he saw the images of President Zelenskyy touring the absolute devastation and horrific images in Bucha, his heart sunk.


BASH: President Zelenskyy says point plank it's inside. Do you agree?

PRESIDENT ANDRZEJ DUDA, POLAND (through translator): It is hard to deny this, of course. This is a crime which fulfills that features of a genocide, especially if you look at the context of different conversations that are being conducted.


We hear about de-Nazification of Ukraine. It is nonsense. It is rubbish. It is an obvious black (ph) Russian propaganda. This is just a false -- looking for a false pretext in order to carry out and massacre, in order to kill people. And the fact that civilian inhabitants of Ukraine are being killed shows best what the goal of Russian invasion is. The goal of that invasion is simply to extinguish the Ukrainian nation.

BASH: Your prime minister recently criticized French President Macron for continue to talk to Vladimir Putin. He said nobody negotiated with Hitler.

DUDA: Not surprised that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, in a situation where he saw the pictures from Bucha, the massacre caused by the Russians, the murders which they committed, I'm surprised that he has spoke out in a very emotional way, because this is a very emotional statement -- a (INAUDIBLE) emotional statement. But it's hard to deny that for many years here in the European Union we heard voices one has to be in dialogue with Russia. We have to conduct dialogue with Russia. Russia attacked Ukraine in 2014. There was a time when Russia attacked Ukraine for the first time. Before that, Russia attacked Georgia. But those attacks were not provoked. They were every time very brutal attacks. And every time I heard, we have to conduct dialogue with Russia. Dialogue with Russia has no sense.

BASH: But if you don't talk to Vladimir Putin, how can the war end?

DUDA: One has to present very tough conditions to Vladimir Putin. One has to say, unless you meet these conditions, we do not have anything to talk about. We are going to provide support to Ukraine decisively. We're going to increase sanctions regime. Because if you conduct a dialogue, which does not achieve anything, it is only a game to buy time by Russia. Russia only gains because it presents itself in the world as somebody who wants to hold a dialogue with whom you can talk.

However, on the one hand, they are saying that they want to speak. They're trying to show their civilized face. And on the other hand, they're murdering in the most savage way, despicable way. And these are the facts.

BASH: Do you think comparing Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler is appropriate right now.

DUDA: It is a fact that Russian soldiers have murdered hundreds of people in Bucha in recent days. It is a fact that (INAUDIBLE) probably they have also murdered hundreds of people in other places. It believes thousands of murdered people.

So, can you say that such a leader is a normal leader in the contemporary world? Is it a leader of the contemporary world whom others could acknowledge and accept, or is he a criminal who has to be punished in a very severe way? I think the answer is obvious.

BASH: You tweeted that Ukrainians, quote, need three things above all, weapons, weapons, and more weapons. You have Soviet-era tanks here in Poland. You have Soviet-era airplanes, MiG-29s. Why haven't you been able to work with NATO to get those to Ukraine?

DUDA: Madam, I'm smiling because weapons, weapons, and more weapons. This is what Ukrainians need. We have to be clear, the free world, the North Atlantic Alliance also asked that Poles do not expect that Ukrainians, our neighbors, would be so decisive and so courageous -- exceptionally courageous and that they will defend their country in this way.

More than 1 million Ukrainians, before the outbreak of the war, were in Poland. They have been living here. They have been working here. Of course they visited their families in Ukraine, but they came back. Here is where they made money, in Poland. The vast majority of those men went to Ukraine to fight. Women and children, those were the refugees who fled Ukraine to our country. Today we have got 2.5 million refugees who have crossed the border to Poland. Almost 2 million of them are still in Poland. But men who had been here before and who worked here just got into their cars and they went to Ukraine to fight to defend their homeland. They're determined. And they are very courageous and brave. They are fighting. They have experience because in occupation -- the Russian occupation lasted there since 2014. Occupation of Donetsk, of (INAUDIBLE), of Crimea. They were fighting there. Many of them had combat experience and they demonstrated this in these days.

What do they need? They need weapons. We are trying to do our best to help them.

BASH: Can NATO do more to help you help them?

DUDA: I cannot say everything, madam, here in this open interview because there are also secrets, NATO secrets, and there are also secrets between Poland and the U.S.

However, please believe me, I talked to President Joe Biden about this.


We consulted the U.S. administration, the White House, and we are in close contact with the U.S. administration all the time.