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Hala Gorani Tonight

Nearly 30 Million Vaccinated in U.K.; Concerns Grow over Spread of Delta Variant; Russian Mercenaries Accused of Mass Murder of Women and Children in Central African Republic; Olympic Games Organizers Unveil New COVID-19 Playbook. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired June 15, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNNI HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Keeping his friends close. President Biden sures up western

support ahead of what's sure to be tense summit with Vladimir Putin tomorrow. Also ahead, a controversial march is under way now in Jerusalem.

Why did the new government give it the green light? A live report coming up.

And Kremlin-backed forces implicated in the torture and killing of civilians in the Central African Republic, a CNN exclusive report is coming

up. After days of friendly meetings with western allies, the American President Joe Biden is now preparing for the toughest part of his European

trip potentially, a summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Not long ago, Mr. Biden arrived in Switzerland where the highly anticipated talks will be held. The leaders are expected to address a wide range of

security issues on Wednesday from cyber attacks to Ukraine and even a potential prisoner swap.

Mr. Biden has spent the last few days in Brussels preparing for this Summit, he's shoring up support from NATO and European allies, and

rebuilding the partnership that his predecessor often ignored.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America in fact, we are committed, we have never fully left, but we're reasserting the pact, it's

overwhelming the interest of the United States of America to have a great relationship with NATO and with the EU. I have a very different view than

my predecessor. I'm looking forward to talking to you all about what I'm about to do.


GORANI: Well, he's making sure on this trip to distinguish himself obviously from Donald Trump who for four years expressed skepticism, at

best, for those multilateral organizations. Let's get more details now from our correspondents. CNN's Arlette Saenz covers the White House and joins me

from Brussels. And Matthew Chance, our Moscow correspondent is in Geneva. Talk to us Arlette about the president's meetings with European leaders. We

saw him there flanked by Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel in Brussels today.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, President Biden really capped off this week of trying to sure up alliances at those

meetings. But at the EU this morning and then yesterday with NATO leaders. So much of what President Biden has done over the course of this past week

is trying to re-establish the commitments to those Trans-Atlantic ties after you really saw former President Trump test and strain relationships

with so many allies during his term. Now, President Biden left here today with two real deliverables.

One of those is setting up an establishment of a trade and tech council to try to counter a rise in China, and then also really settling a 17-year

dispute over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus. This is something that has gone on for quite some time.

And you saw the former president, President Trump, he had slapped billions of dollars worth of sanctions on European products, and then Europe had

responded in kind. But today, the U.S. and EU putting that behind them and really ending that dispute. But what you have seen President Biden trying

to do is present a united front with allies.

Yes, there are differences in areas like how exactly to deal with China. But President Biden really wanted to head into that meeting with Russia's

President Vladimir Putin tomorrow with the support of his allies. One thing that we had heard from some NATO leaders when some skepticism about having

President Biden meet with Putin face-to-face in his first foreign trip as president.

There were concerns that it might be elevating or giving legitimacy and rewarding Putin for some of his actions even as particularly you had

eastern European countries are really concerned about Russian aggression that you've seen recently when it comes to Ukraine.

But President Biden said he spoke with NATO leaders about that meeting that he's about to have with Putin, talk to them about the issues he is going to

bring up, and it was the president's assessment that NATO leaders were supportive of the route that Biden will be taking in these meetings with

Putin as they're said to meet face-to-face for the first time with Biden as president tomorrow.


GORANI: Let's preview that meeting. Arlette Saenz, thanks very much live in Brussels. Biden met with EU leaders. He met with NATO leaders. He had a

G7 Summit in Cornwall. It's after all of those meetings and reassuring allies that America is back as he said many times, Matthew Chance, that

he's meeting with Vladimir Putin. I'm curious, how is the Russian side preparing for this sit-down?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I've spoken to the Kremlin about this, and they say of course, Vladimir Putin is as prepared

for this meeting as he is, you know, for any other meeting.

Because the range of issues that he intends to discuss and that will be discussed with President Biden aren't just about U.S.-Russian relations.

They're about, you know, kind of a whole gammet of international affair, you know, as far as the Russians are concerned, the areas where this is

going to be progress, if there's going to be any progress at all.

Things like climate change, think about things like, you know, arms control, things like strategic stability. Like both countries for instance

supporting, you know, the rejoining or the renewal of the Iran nuclear agreement. And so, these are the areas that the Russians want to focus on

in terms of where they can potentially have progress. But of course, we know very well that Joe Biden is coming into this summit and he said very

clearly that he's going to be confronting Vladimir Putin on cyber warfare, cyber attacks on the United States.

He's going to be confronting Vladimir Putin on the military threat that Russia poses consistently to its neighbors, that you know, in particular to

Ukraine. And he's going to be confronting Vladimir Putin on the crackdown that the Kremlin is waging at the moment on dissidents inside Russia,

particularly Alexei Navalny of course, who was poisoned and then put in jail.

And on none of those issues though are we going into this, at least from the Kremlin point of view, watching the Kremlin closely as I've been doing,

and expecting Vladimir Putin to offer any compromise, to offer even an inch of territory when it comes to those issues and Joe Biden.

Remember, you know, Vladimir Putin is playing to his own domestic audience. And what he wants to show them is a strong president on the international

stage, a global statesman who can, you know, stick up for what Russia does and Russia's rights, I suppose he would characterize it. What he's not

going to be doing is, you know, admitting any kind of failure, admitting any culpability for any of those maligned activities around the world, and

he's certainly not going to want to be seen to be backing down in any way.

GORANI: Well, in order to discuss Alexei Navalny, the Russian president would have to start by saying his name. He can't even bring himself to do

that during interviews. So, thanks very much Matthew Chance, live in Geneva. Arlette Saenz in Brussels. Steven Erlanger is the chief diplomatic

correspondent for "The New York Times", he's currently in Brussels. And I want to preview this meeting between Biden and Putin with you. But first,

what were the big concrete takeaways so far of President Biden's trip to the G7, to NATO and his meetings with EU leaders?

STEVEN ERLANGER, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Hala, in a way, part of it was simply the symbolism of friendly face. It's

hard to underestimate the post-traumatic stress suffered by Europeans and NATO by the Trump presidency. Biden is one of the nicest people. He knows

everybody. He's one of the last Trans-Atlanticist. So --

GORANI: Yes --

ERLANGER: That was already important for Biden to say we're your friend. We're allies. We support you. We need your help because what Biden wants to

do is get Europe support as the United States begins to look at the challenge of this rising China which is just not military at all, but

economic, technological 5G, digital and as the world changes, as Asia becomes more populist and richer, the western democracies are shrinking.

And so, it is more important Biden argues that they stick together. And so, yes, I mean, part of what happened was more attention to China.

I mean, there were agreements to talk --

GORANI: Yes --

ERLANGER: More about screening investments, being more careful about resilience, making sure that in emergencies, the west isn't subject to

Chinese or even Russian hindrances.


And it was, but mostly it was to say the western democracies plus Japan, South Korea, see the threat, they see the challenge and they intend to do

something about it.

GORANI: Right. And also, we're going to get into this in more detail with our reporter in a moment, but the Airbus-Boeing agreement there --


GORANI: Is quite significant in the sense that Europe and the U.S. after 17 years of major disagreements on subsidies to these aeronautical

companies have decided to come together because it seems as though they are -- they are at least on Biden's side here when it comes to countering a

rising China, economically speaking. Similarly, with infrastructure investments around the world where China is making huge in-roads in some

developing countries for instance.

ERLANGER: Yes, and also in places like Greece and also in the Balkans. So, it does really matter that Airbus thing does matter. It's 17 years of

agony. The tariffs have been suspended, but it's time to get it done. They've been suspended for another five years, but partly, as the Americans

said, we need to have Airbus and Boeing not fighting each other but preparing against Chinese competition from a sort of very sophisticated

Chinese new --

GORANI: Yes --

ERLANGER: Aircraft company that's getting state subsidies. So, this is all part of the -- you know, let's see where China is going and let's not be

taken advantage of.

GORANI: Even though there's still a bit of resistance from Germany and France among others, I want to ask you about Putin and Biden tomorrow. I

mean, the timing obviously of this sit-down and this face-to-face between the two men coming at the very tail end of Biden ticking every diplomatic

box humanly possible by a U.S. President, every international summit you can think of. Does that -- does that put him really in a stronger position

with Vladimir Putin, do you think?

ERLANGER: Well, it puts him in a stronger position to say I have consulted all my allies and I represent their views. And I don't think Vladimir Putin

is shaking in his boots about it. I think simply having this Summit meeting is a kind of gift to Vladimir Putin, but at the same time, there's business

to be done.

There's a real arms control issue, I mean, there's a real question about controlling not just nuclear arms, but intermediate range missiles, Russia

has spent a lot of money modernizing its forces. It's not the old Soviet army. It has moved troops up to Ukraine.

It is using disinformation inside the European Union. It is hacking. I mean, Biden wants to at least set some red lines for Vladimir Putin. And I

think that's probably a wise thing to do. I don't think he has great expectations --

GORANI: Yes --

ERLANGER: But I think he simply wants to say to Putin, look, I know there are things you've been doing and we can retaliate, so stop doing them or if

you --

GORANI: I see --

ERLANGER: Do them, these will be the consequences.

GORANI: Well, we'll see how that plays out. I think a lot of people will be following that sit-down, trying to read body language and the rest of it

as we always do. Steven Erlanger, thanks very much, joining us from Brussels, "The New York Times" chief diplomatic correspondent. As I

mentioned, the U.S. and the EU have resolved that 17-year trade dispute.

They've been fighting over government subsidies paid to Airbus and Boeing. But the two sides have now reached a resolution in large part because they

want to stop fighting with each other and instead focus on the rising economic and trade threat from China as we've been discussing with Steven

Erlanger now. Anna Stewart joins me now from London with more on what this means practically-speaking. Anna.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, practically-speaking, this ends as you say a really long-running dispute. The best part of two decades. You have

to look back through the mix of time to remember how it began.

But it really did begin with the EU and the U.S. both accusing each other of giving illegal state subsidies for their own aircraft makers at the cost

of the other. And the WTO, the World Trade Organization allowed both sides to levy huge tariffs on goods from both sides. Billions of dollars of

worth, and it didn't just impact aircrafts, it also impacts all sorts of products. Palms and cheese in Italy, Scotch Whisky in Scotland, the

tractors made in America, you name it.

So today was really significant because both sides have come to an agreement, they're going to form some working groups to talk about

subsidies in the future. But right now, all of the tariffs related to this spat are suspended for five years. Hala?


GORANI: And the U.K. and Australia have reached a trade deal, so progress on that front. What does that entail, exactly?

STEWART: Yes, nonstop trade news today. Yes, a new trade deal for the U.K. It means that we'll be able to sell, I guess, some Scotch Whisky more

cheaply to Australia. I expect to see more Australian wine, in the meantime, the U.K. menu is here, it did certainly upset some British

farmers who were worried about cheaper meat coming in and flooding the market.

In reality, Hala, this is actually really tiny if you consider it as an economic boost particularly to the U.K. It's something like 0.02 percent of

GDP. So, small in terms of that significance, but this is actually the first new trade deal that the U.K. has reached since Brexit.

All the others have pretty much been a copy and paste job from what was left over by the EU. So, this is significant in that sense, and also it

perhaps points forward to more trade deals that could be done, particularly one that would be significant if the U.K. joined the CPTPP. The very

confusing acronym about the broader Asia Pacific Free Trade Agreement. So that could be something exciting. It bodes well, it points in the right

direction. Hala.

GORANI: All right, Anna Stewart, thanks very much. Still to come tonight, there were chants of death to Arabs. How a highly provocative march in

Jerusalem is a test, perhaps the first one for the new Israeli government that is just two days old. Plus, a hard line conservative is set to win

Iran's presidential election. A closer look at the implications for the country and the nuclear deal with the west. We'll be right back.


GORANI: The Hungarian parliament has passed legislation that would effectively ban any discussion of LGBTQ issues in school. The measure was

attached to a separate bill that promises tougher action against pedophiles. Hungary's parliament is controlled by the right-wing populist

party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. A massive crowd of protesters gathered Monday to demonstrate against the bill. As I mentioned, banning

discussions about LGBTQ issues in school.

Police are out in force in Jerusalem where thousands of far-right ultra nationalist Jewish activists are marching through the streets, waving

Israeli flags and chanting inflammatory slogans like death to Arabs or I hope your villages burn. The annual event celebrates Israel's capture of

east Jerusalem in 1967, an area later annexed.


This is not recognized internationally obviously, but the marchers are singing and dancing, chanting things like Jerusalem is ours. Let's get the

very latest now from Hadas Gold, she is live in Jerusalem. First, what -- explain what is happening, how big the crowds were? I know you were there

at Damascus Gate not long ago.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Hala, Damascus Gate is the main entrance for Muslim worshippers to enter the old city, and at least

directly into the Muslim quarter. And there was, I would have to say thousands of marchers who started their march at Damascus Gate plaza.

Now, police had blocked off the gate, so they were not allowed to actually enter the old city through the Damascus Gate, instead making their ways

along the outside of the old city and entering through the Jaffa Gate entrance. But just their presence at the Damascus Gate was seen as very


Now, this march actually takes place every year. And it was originally supposed to take place on Jerusalem day last month. But it was canceled at

the last minute when Hamas began firing rockets towards Jerusalem. Of course, that helping to trigger that 11-day bloody conflict in Gaza.

Now, just before this march took place in the hours proceeding it, there was a very heavy police presence around the Damascus Gate plaza. We saw

police clearing the area entirely, including the streets around it, pushing back hundreds of Palestinians counter protesters to make way for these

Jewish activists.

Now, as you noted, most of them were waving the flag singing and dancing, saying phrases like Jerusalem is ours. Jerusalem is our home. But there

were some of those activists were shouting very inflammatory words including like you noted "death to Arabs". Now, Palestinian leadership were

condemning this march before it even began.

The Palestinian Prime Minister condemning it, calling it a provocation. The Hamas spokesman saying that it's a fuse for a new explosion to defend

Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque. Now, this march is widely seen as a new test for this brand new Israeli government that was only sworn in on Sunday led

by a right-winger Naftali Bennett.

Actually, some people who were at this march were saying things against Naftali Bennett. I saw people holding signs with his face that said Naftali

Bennett is a liar. Some of them unhappy with him, although, this new government did allow this march to take place. It was originally

rescheduled under the previous administration. And we are getting a reaction from this government because there was a lot of questions about

whether this march should even take place because of the tensions especially this tenuous ceasefire with Hamas.

There's a lot of questions about whether Hamas will have some sort of response to this march, and then of course, what sort of action the Israeli

government might take if Hamas does decide to take some sort of response. But we are hearing from this new Israeli government, the Foreign Minister,

Yair Lapid, he leads the centrist party, he's actually alternate prime minister, he's supposed to take over from Naftali Bennett after two years.

He said that it is inconceivable that one can hold the Israeli flag in one hand and shout death to Arabs at the same time.

This is neither Judaism nor Israelite, and it is certainly not what our flag symbolizes. These people are a disgrace to the people of Israel. But

Hala, so far, we have not heard yet from the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Hala.

GORANI: Hadas Gold live in Jerusalem. Thank you. To Iran now, and the international community is closely watching this week's election there. The

man on the left is Ebrahim Raisi; a hardline judiciary chief with a brutal record on human rights. And he's running virtually uncontested to replace

outgoing President Hassan Rouhani this Friday. Fred Pleitgen now has more on what that means for Iran and for the world.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what a sprint to the finish line looks like in Iran's presidential

election, churning out posters at the headquarters of conservative frontrunner Ebrahim Raisi, the man many believe will be Iran's next

president. His campaign workers already talking about post-election plans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The main concern people have is the fall in their incomes, he says, and when it comes to livelihoods and

the economy, we hope to be able to solve the problems.

PLEITGEN: With Iran still in the clutches of the coronavirus pandemic, campaign rallies have been banned in areas with high infection rates,

leaving the candidates to square off in a series of TV debates with Raisi promising to improve the economy.

We should try to make the economy self-sufficient, he says, tremors shouldn't affect it, not the coronavirus, not floods, not earthquakes, not

sanctions, nothing. The main moderate candidate Abdolnaser Hemmati ripped into Raisi and other conservative's economic plans.

The current economic situation in Iran is such that most of the colorful and attractive promises made by the other candidates are not possible, he

said. Ebrahim Raisi has spent decades in public service in Iran, a conservative hardliner, he's currently the powerful head of Iran's

judiciary known for dishing out harsh punishment and many death sentences.


Raisi run in Iran's 2017 presidential election, but was defeated by moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani. Now, the tables have turned, and many

Iranians blame Rouhani for the country's dire economic situation caused in part by the crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

TRITA PARSI, QUINCY INSTITUTE: There's a tremendous amount of anger against Iranian government because of that perception that they have really

mismanaged the economy, corruption has gotten much worse.

PLEITGEN: Another reason why Raisi is so far ahead in the polls is that Iran's guardian counsel, the body that vets candidates disqualified many of

those who would have had a chance to challenge him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In my opinion, the competition would have been more open and there should have been a broader selection of

candidates, this man says. That has led to fears of voter apathy and possible low turnout. Even Iran's Supreme leader has criticized the

disqualifications and called on people to vote. Dear people of Iran, he said, the election takes place in one day, but its effects remain for many

years. Participate in the election.

One major effect could be a shift in Iranian politics towards more conservative forces just as the country is in negotiations to try and

salvage the Iran nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other world powers.

PARSI: If negotiations have not been completed, and Raisi comes in, it is going to dramatically change the dynamics. Not only because he may come in

with some new ideas and, you know, uproot what already has been agreed upon, but also he's going to change the negotiating team.

PLEITGEN: Even with subdued campaigning due to the pandemic, this election could prove to be key shaping Iran's future and its relations with the west

for years to come. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


GORANI: Still to come, as many countries begin to open up, concerns are growing about the Delta variant of COVID. I speak to the W.H.O.'s Europe

director next. And later, an exclusive report on a shadowy Russian force that's accused of human rights atrocities in Africa. We'll be right back.




GORANI: Boris Johnson has slammed the brakes on England's lockdown easing. And now the British government is ramping up its vaccine drive

again to catch up with the Delta variant first identified in India. From today, 23- and 24-year-olds will be eligible and all adults over 18 should

be able to book before the end of the week.

A new study suggests that two doses of the vaccine are, quote, "highly effective" against hospitalization from COVID. You can see the numbers


Cyril Vanier is with us from London.

How much of a difference is the numbers making?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's a huge difference between the protection you get from one dose of the vaccine to two doses of the

vaccine. You get about 30 percent protection after your first dose and that climbs upward to 90 percent of protection after the second dose.

That's true whether you're getting the Pfizer vaccine or the AstraZeneca vaccine. There really is a huge boost in protection for people after they

have completed their vaccination protocol.

That's essentially why the government has decided to postpone lifting the last layer of restrictions here in the U.K. Currently, 50 percent, 57

percent of adults have received both doses of their coronavirus vaccine.

The government is saying, by prolonging the remaining restrictions another four weeks, they will be able to have two-thirds of the adult population,

including all over 50, fully vaccinated by the time they lift remaining restrictions.

What are these remaining restrictions?

It is precisely moments in places where large crowds gather. It's large live events, like sporting events, night clubs concerts. That is why the

government has decided to take this step of postpone, removing this latest layer of restrictions so that you can have, in the words of Boris Johnson,

the highest wall possible of immunity around the population.

GORANI: All right. Cyril, thanks very much. We'll stay in close touch with you for more on the COVID situation in the U.K.

In the U.S. the numbers have been getting better and better but the country just hit a terrible milestone; 600,000 people have now died from COVID in

the country, according to Johns Hopkins University. That means one in every 550 people in the U.S. has died of the disease. That's absolutely


Britain isn't the only place worried about the Delta variant. It's now been found in more than 70 countries. It's appeared in China, U.S., Scandinavia

and Africa. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now calling it a variant of concern.

Angela Merkel is one world leader warning about the variant, saying while she's pleased with Germany's progress, it is the Delta strain that worries

her. Dr. Hans Kluge is the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe and joins me now from Copenhagen.

Doctor, thanks for being with us.

Do you think it's the right decision for the U.K. to delay its full reopening another four weeks?

DR. HANS KLUGE, WHO EUROPE: There's a mixed picture in the whole WHO Europe region. There's a lot of good things. The infection rate starts to

scale up but we have effectively the Delta variant, which is spreading fast and can create more hospitalizations. So speed is our best friend. We still

have to hold the fort and to implement certain public health restrictive measures, absolutely.

GORANI: One of the interesting aspects of the figure that's been published since the Delta variant has been causing an increase in cases, in the U.K.,

deaths are not rising at all at the same rate as cases.

In fact, in the U.K., over the last several weeks, on average we get between five and 15 deaths a day, even though the number of cases has

risen, sometimes over 7,000 on a rolling average basis.

Is that because so many people are vaccinated?

KLUGE: Absolutely. We see it's in the whole region. We have now for the second consecutive week less than 10,000 deaths.


KLUGE: About 30 percent of the population vaccinated you start having a protective effect and about 60 percent, a stabilizing effect. At 80 percent

we would hope to get out of this pandemic.

But let's not forget, one year ago, we were also so optimistic -- and it's good to be optimistic because now we have a vaccine -- but still we are not

out of the woods. That's why a word of caution is the right thing to do so.

GORANI: I think you just heard you say 80 percent vaccination rate maybe could get us out of this pandemic.

Did I hear that correctly?

KLUGE: At about. We have to be very careful with percentages but, in European regions, the expert group is aiming for 80 percent of coverage

indeed. But even before that, we see as indicated already that hospitalization deaths, particularly in the vulnerable groups, start to


But we have to make sure the vaccines circulate quicker than the variants of concern.

GORANI: There are those who are double vaccinated who become ill and even die of the disease. Do you know what percentage of people who die have been

vaccinated twice, roughly?

KLUGE: The key message is that vaccines save lives. And we see very clearly a protecting effect. And the good news is that, if you get fully

vaccinated, the two doses, it also protects against the variants of concern.


So it does happen. Let me ask you about the difference in approaches between the U.K. and Europe. The E.U. says if you have two vaccinations,

you're free to come over. You're double jabbed. You can travel within the 27 nation bloc.

Upon your return, even if you're double jabbed, you must quarantine for 10 days.

Which country or bloc has it right here?

They are very different approaches.

KLUGE: I'm looking from a WHO European, a pan European perspective, which is 53 members. It's even more.


KLUGE: -- coherence is very, very important. And we recently, in fact, yesterday, had a briefing on the so called smart digital certification for

COVID-19 vaccine. In general, if you travel, think twice. If you travel, travel safely. It's fundamentally up to the country but policy coherence

and decrease of confusion toward the people is very important.

GORANI: But scientifically which approach makes sense?

Because they are diametrically opposed. On the one hand, you have countries saying if you have two vaccines, we don't consider you enough of a public

health threat to ask you to quarantine for 10 days. Other countries say it doesn't matter, one jab, two jabs, got to quarantine.

Scientifically which makes more sense?

KLUGE: Scientifically very important that everyone really needs to get the two jabs. That will decrease, as we say, hospitalizations, deaths, severe

cases. But it's absolutely still the open question how much the vaccination protects against transmitting the disease and further infections that are

open questions.

But the importance is that we need to drastically scale up the vaccination and then powerful economic blocs have to do their share because no one is

safe until everyone is safe.

GORANI: That message has come through loud and clear. It's important to get two vaccinations. You're more protected if you have it. There's still

risks, right, even if you have two jabs, if you're being unsafe, if you're meeting with hundreds of people, if you're going to big events, you're --

it's not an armor, basically. You still have to be careful.

KLUGE: Absolutely. It's not water tight, particularly if we see that people are dropping the guard, that the mask use is less. Then there will

be large sports events and gatherings. It doesn't mean that economical -- I understand also economically and buddhism (ph), the countries cannot lose a

second year. But caution. We know what needs to be done. The three Ws, wash your hands, watch the discipline, your distance and wear the masks.

GORANI: So Dr. Kluge, Hungary and Portugal are playing a game in the Euro today; 67,000 people can fit in this stadium. There don't appear to be any

social distancing measures. We're showing our viewers pictures of this.


GORANI: This is Hungary and not that many masks. Based on everything you said, this sounds like a pretty terrible idea.

KLUGE: Well, certainly (INAUDIBLE) Denmark will have Belgium playing Denmark. But safety measures will be in place. So there are clear

instructions for them. The host country where I am, again in Denmark, that will be procured (ph) before entering the stadium, that masks have to be


Once that the people sit down, the mask can be taken off when there's discipline. So the same basic (INAUDIBLE) still adhere and mask events

without those strict measures based on a local risk assessment is definitely risky.

GORANI: Right.

And really the stadium is packed.

And you would advise against such a mass gathering?

KLUGE: No, that's not my advice. We cannot tell people, don't do it, don't travel. This has been a long, exhausting pandemic. We have to show empathy

to the people and have hope. But we have to do it safely. WHO has very clear guidelines. Also for the Olympic Games and other mass events because

this is nothing new on how to do it.

And then every country ,based on a risk assessment have to issue the guidelines and we're very happy to assist if we are asked so.

GORANI: I can see you're being very careful not to criticize any particular country, which I understand. Dr. Hans Kluge, thank you so much

for joining us.

Still to come tonight, CNN uncovers evidence of human rights atrocities by Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic. That report is ahead.




GORANI: In an exclusive report, CNN has uncovered disturbing evidence of human rights atrocities by Russian mercenaries all the way to the -- in the

Central African Republic. Our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward and her team were denied entry to the country because of CNN's

previous reports on the activities of these very mercenaries.


GORANI: But working with local journalists and an independent investigative group, The Sentry, CNN assembled evidence of a pattern of

abuses which one U.N. expert says may amount to war crimes. Names of victims have been changed to protect their identities and note that some

viewers may find some of the images disturbing.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The aftermath of a massacre at a mosque in the city of Bambari, in the Central African Republic, at

least 12 bodies are visible on the ground, a woman and a child are among the dead.

Dozens of civilians had taken shelter in the Al-Taqwa Mosque that day after witnesses say Russian mercenaries and government troops came hunting

through rebel fighters.

Abdoulaye was inside the mosque but instead of finding sanctuary, he told CNN, they became targets.

ABDOULAYE, VICTIM OF BAMBARI MOSQUE INCIDENT (through translator): (INAUDIBLE) and the Russians asked us to take the women and the children,

out of the mosque. Six of us walked out with her hands raced.

They searched us and found nothing. We haven't even gone five meters when they started shooting us. Four people died, one jumped a wall and I was

shot in the right foot.

WARD (voice-over): That same day, Djibrilia told CNN her 15 year old son was killed by Russians, firing from a helicopter. When her husband went out

to find him, he was shot down to.

DJIBRILIA, VICTIM OF BAMBARI MOSQUE INCIDENT (through translator): My husband was buried together with my 15-year-old son. When the burial was

over, we couldn't even say a word. I was crying. My children also came next to me wailing. It was the Russians who killed my husband, leaving me with

children in pain.

WARD (voice-over): A confidential U.N. report found that abuses were carried out on both sides in Bambari but that the Russians may have

committed war crimes and it does not appear to be an isolated incident.

Over several months, CNN and the independent investigative group, The Sentry, have obtained testimony and documents implicating Russian

contractors deployed to train the Central African army in a wide range of atrocities during fighting between government and rebel forces, including

mass shootings, torture and the burning of villages.

Sorcha McLeod is on the U.N. working group on mercenaries. In March, it sent details of alleged abuses to the Russian and Central African Republic


Grave human rights abuses, including rape, summary execution, targeted killings, torture, forced disappearances, murders and other abuses.

We are talking about war crimes here, potentially, are we not?

SORCHA MCLEOD, U.N. WORKING GROUP ON MERCENARIES: Yes, we are. We are seeing some of the most serious human rights violations and humanitarian

law violations. And we are seeing them on a widespread scale. People on the ground are absolutely terrified.

WARD (voice-over): It is a stark contrast from the story Russia tells. In this recent movie, Tourist, funded by a company associated with the Russian

mercenaries, they are lauded as heroic defenders who have liberated Central Africa.

In reality, Russia's presence in this war torn, mineral rich nation has always been controversial. Even as it has ballooned from 170 contracted

trainers in 2017 to around 2,300 now, according to a U.N. document obtained by The Sentry with more than 30 basis spread out across the country.

Thirty-nine-year-old teacher Nemory (ph) shows our camera the scars, from wounds, he says, that were inflicted by Russian mercenaries at an outpost

outside of Bambari.

"They took us to the Russian base, tied us up with rope and started to torture us. They even used a bayonet to injure my left foot deeply," he

says. "Their actions were evil and barbaric."

MCLEOD: We are seeing a pattern of behavior by these Russian private contractors. This has happened in other countries, we've seen for example

in relation to Libya. We had Russian private contractors who were involved in a variety of human rights violations and a variety of international

humanitarian law violations.

WARD (voice-over): But for the victims of these alleged crimes, there is little hope for justice. Private military contractors are technically

illegal in Russia and so don't officially exist.


WARD (voice-over): And many locals live in fear of repercussions from a shadowy and unaccountable force -- Clarissa Ward, CNN.


GORANI: Still to come, a stark warning for anyone competing in Tokyo Olympics. There's a strict list of COVID rules and we'll bring you details

on those, coming up.




GORANI: Time flies because the Tokyo Olympic Games should kick off in about five weeks. Right now only about 5 percent of the Japanese population

is fully vaccinated against COVID. Today Japan's vaccine ministry says the country should markedly ramp up daily vaccinations by the end of June.


TARO KONO, JAPANESE MINISTER FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM: Well, Daily, I think we're administering about 800,000 doses a day. And it's going up. So

hopefully some time by the end of June, I think we'll reach 1 million a day.


GORANI: Also, today, Olympics organizers released their third set of guidelines aimed at controlling COVID-19 spread during the game. Athletes

could be disqualified for breaking COVID rules. CNN's Selina Wang is in Tokyo.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, athletes who break COVID-19 rules at the Summer Olympics could be kicked out of the games. Organizers announced

in the third and final Olympic playbook that punishment ranges from a warning to disqualification to financial sanctions.

What's clear here is that participants will have to go through major logistical hurdles and bureaucracy to pull these games off. Athletes will

be tested twice within 96 hours of leaving for Japan. They will be tested upon arrival and tested daily after that.


WANG: They are asked to wear masks as much as possible, to avoid public transportation and to only go to designated places. There will be social

distancing instead of the usual mixing, mingling and partying.

If athletes test positive for COVID-19, they are asked to take designated transport to an isolation facility that's outside of the Olympic Village.

If they test positive during the games, they cannot compete. Their close contact will be tested and monitored.

Athletes will be contact traced throughout the games and GPS will be used if a positive case is found. Organizers expect more than 80 percent of the

Olympic Village to be vaccinated. Overseas fans have already been banned.

Despite all of these restrictions, the medical community and the public here in Japan is still worried. "The Lancet" medical journal in an op-ed

said there's still a risk these games could seed COVID-19 outbreaks in Japan and around the world when participants return to their home


Japan has only fully vaccinated about 5 percent of its population. The government aims to speed up the rollout to a million of doses a day but

that still means the majority of the population would be unvaccinated by the time the games begin -- Hala.

GORANI: Selina, thanks very much.

The Danish football star Christian Eriksen is seen smiling from his hospital bed in a social media post with a thumbs-up. This after deeply

harrowing seeds during Saturday's Euro 2020 game versus Finland. The player suddenly collapsed. He suffered an almost fatal cardiac arrest before they

used CPR and a defibrillator to resuscitate him.

He said, "I'm fine under the circumstances. I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital but I feel OK."

And an update on an adorable animal venture in China. The 500 kilometer journey of this elephant herd is still going on days after it grabbed the

world's attention. Now the animals have changed direction. Instead of trekking north from their original habitat, they have turned southwest and

have lingered around a nearby town. And drone footage, as you can see there shows them resting, napping in the forest by day and moving along valleys

by night.

Animal experts still don't know why they are there. It could be because they enjoy the food and climate or because they waiting for another element

with a really bad sense of direction who got lost along the way.

They're adorable.

Why are they there?

Open questions. Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. Isa Soares is next on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."