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Hala Gorani Tonight

Kazakh President Gives Shoot-To-Kill Order To Quell Protests; Novak Djokovic Thanks People Around The World' For Their Continuous Support; Hospitals Under Pressure As Omicron Surge; NATO Ministers Warns Russia Over Aggression Towards Ukraine; Groundbreaking Actor Sidney Poitier Died At Age 94. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 07, 2022 - 14:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, Kazakhstan leader gives an order to shoot to kill

protesters without warning. Chilling words after days of anti-government unrest.

Then controversy swirls around tennis world number one Novak Djokovic as he remains detained by Australian authorities. I'll speak with former tennis

pro Patrick McEnroe.

Plus, the pioneering actor who broke down racial barriers. Hollywood's first black superstar, Sidney Poitier, dies at 94.

They need to be destroyed. That is what the President of Kazakhstan is saying about protesters, his own countrymen and women vowing to restore

order through the barrel of a gun after the biggest uprising in the former Soviet republics since independence in '91.

Police appear to have largely regained control today with the help of Russian led security forces. Anti-government protests turned violent this

week, leaving some buildings in the city of Almaty ransacked and burned. State media say 18 security personnel and 26 quote, armed criminals, that's

what the government is calling them, were killed in the unrest. Today, the president vowed no mercy.


KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, KAZAKHSTANI PRESIDENT (through translator): I gave the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to open fire to kill

without warning abroad there are appeals to the parties to negotiate for a peaceful solution of problems. What nonsense. What kind of negotiations can

there be with criminals, with murderers? We had to deal with armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign, namely with bandits and

terrorists. Therefore, they need to be destroyed. And this will be done shortly.


GORANI: The protests began over rising fuel prices. That's how they began. But they spiraled into widespread anger at Kazakhstan's authoritarian

regime. CNN's Nic Robertson shows us how the government is using an iron fist to regain control.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): On Almaty's streets and hard to verify social media posts, an elderly

overnight crackdown. People scream and scurry for cover, panic, as well as bullets in the air. They're dead. They're dead, a man says. A motionless

body just out of safe reach stretched out on the freezing ground.

In the same city, the country's biggest protesters fought pitch battles with uniform forces. Casualties accumulating on both sides. Law enforcement

appearing to gain the upper hand with arrests and killings. Police claimed they took deadly action overnight, describing an as yet unverified shadowy

shoot first ask questions later crackdown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Last night, extremist forces attempted to storm the administrative buildings and police department in

the city of Almaty. Dozens of attackers were eliminated and their identities are still being verified.

ROBERTSON: The mayor's burnt out office in Almaty apparent testimony to the ferocity of the battles fought without offering proof. The Kazakh President

claiming protesters are foreign backed terrorists and often use trope to deflect blame that the Russian government is also repeating a

characterization rejected by protesters.

We neither thugs nor no terrorist, this woman says. The only thing flourishing here is corruption. We want the truth, this protester says. The

government is rich. But all of these people here have loans to pay. We have our pain. We want to share it. But truth and facts here are in short

supply. The internet down for a second day. Residents reporting a scary quiet, braving government warnings to stay indoors to go out and search for

open shops to buy essential.

Russian state media reporting heavily on allegedly rampant looting by some protesters, as well as highlighting violence against Kazakh law

enforcement, as part of a regional security agreement, Russian paratroopers began deploying to guard state and military facilities. The fourth

consecutive day of protests, gunfire and explosions still rocking Almaty. Nic Robertson, CNN, Moscow.



GORANI: Well, Western nations are keeping a close eye on the situation in Kazakhstan and they're calling for restraint. Our Scott McLean is following

developments tonight for us. What are these? There's an emergency session and meeting of NATO, foreign ministers and Western countries, including the

United States saying they're keeping a very close eye on what's going on there. What are they saying?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Hala. Yes, that's absolutely right from the United States government, right to the Taliban

government in Afghanistan, it seems like most outsiders, most outside governments and organizations are calling for calm, calling for restraint,

calling for deescalation.

From the American point of view, they also -- they seem a little bit baffled by why the Kazakh president decided to call in this alliance of

Russia and ex-Soviet countries to come to his aid, his country's aid because, at least from Antony Blinken, the secretary of state's

perspective, it doesn't really seem like they were necessary. And from his point of view, he said today, that once Russians are in your house,

sometimes it is difficult to get them to leave.

But the reality here is, Hala, this is not necessarily the same dynamic, as it is, say in Ukraine, where it's maybe a little bit of a proxy war, a

battle between east versus west, Russia's sphere of influence versus the United States. Well, in this case, Kazakhstan is very much within Russia's

sphere of influence.

There is no doubt about that. Of course, Americans have interest there in oil and minerals, things like that, and economic interest. But there is not

nearly the level of political interest between the two countries. And so the United States perhaps not so worried about Russians being on the

ground, and we know that they are there right now.

Hala, we're also learning a little bit from, of course, the internet right now, as we know is for the most part shut down except for some intermittent

service here and there. But one journalist on the ground there is giving us a glimpse into what things are like in Almaty, they said that they saw

walking around the city today four dead bodies with gunshot wounds in them. There are large security perimeters around government buildings. And if you

get too close, they will fire warning shots.

Last night, we know that there was heavy, heavy gunfire. This is something the government would call anti-terror operations. Of course, the

opposition, they would have a much different name for it. And of course today walking around the city, there are no visible protests.

But what you are finding is people walking around the city trying to find supplies made difficult by the fact that ATMs are not, machines are not

working to get cash and of course card machines are not working because the internet has been shut down by the government. Hala.

GORANI: OK, Scott. Thanks so very much. Scott McLean. As you've heard, it's been difficult to get the full picture of what's happening in Kazakhstan

because of all those communication disruptions. But our next guest has dozens of correspondents on the ground there.

Torokul Doorov is director of Kazakh Service for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, and he's joining me now live from Prague. Thank you very much for

joining us, Torokul Doorov.

First off, you've been speaking to your reporters in Kazakhstan when you can because we understand there's been an internet and communications

blackout but what are they telling you is going on?

TOROKUL DOOROV, RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY: Thank you, Hala, for having me tonight. For the third night in a row, the country is now in

total internet blackout. There's absolutely no possibility to contact with people inside for someone in Europe or in the US. It is very difficult for

us now to contact with our journalists on the ground. Even telephone communication doesn't always work. But whenever we have possibility, we try

them again and again and call them reach them, record their voice and type the information to publish.

Our journalists from different cities have been telling us now that people are shocked living in fear about their lives, desperately trying to get

some cash from ATMs as it was said before, since food shops accept only cash. No banks working. ATMs are out of money in many places or damaged.

Shopping malls have been robbed or burned in some cities, including Almaty, the largest city, the mayor's office is still burning.

And just a couple of hours ago, I've spoken to our correspondent in Almaty who said that outside of his house on the street, people were asking where

they can buy a bread. They see someone holding it.


One of the residents are told to our journalist, that if this situation will continue for three, four more days, there definitely will be

humanitarian crisis. But in some smaller cities where we have seen protests, the situation is less dramatic, for example, in western Oral

City, or Eastern Semey.

Also in central Zhezkazgan, our Radio Liberty, Kazakhstan Service journalists have been seen, you know, protests. Note, haven't seen any

protests or gunfire at least last one day. But in northern Aktobe, for example, about 40 people were injured today when police started dispersing


GORANI: Can I ask you, sorry, just jump in. But we are reporting that the President of Kazakhstan has requested help from the Russian led forces to

come and help quell these protests. Now, as far as these troops are concerned, they're saying we're not there to crack down on dissent. We're

just there to keep the peace. What are your reporters saying on the ground the role of these troops has been since they've entered Kazakhstan?

DOOROV: Yes, Russian troops arrived already in Kazakhstan from CST (ph) organization. This is a Russia lead military organization created exactly

30 years ago, by several post-Soviet states, including Russia and Kazakhstan as form of NATO on the territory of the former Soviet Union was


This is the first time (INAUDIBLE) is being involved in such a military operation in one of the member country -- countries. They have never sent

their troops before to anyone, like even during the Armenia, Azerbaijan conflict of 2020, or ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan in 20 -- 2010.

But this time, they responded to the call from Kazakh president immediate. So, so far as the CSTO is saying that these troops will not be actively

participating in military operation. They will just guard the important government buildings, airports, et cetera.

But I think very important thing now will be the question how long will they stay in Kazakhstan. Our journalists say especially in Almaty they're

saying that until now they're in some areas they have been hearing some gunfire, but they cannot identify whether they are from CSTO organization

or local army.

GORANI: Well, we're going to keep our eye on this. We really, really appreciate you bringing us up to date with the help obviously of the people

you're able to contact very, very sporadically on the ground. Thank you for the update. Torokul Doorov is the director of the Kazakh Service for Radio

Free Europe. Thank you.

DOOROV: Thank you.

GORANI: Now let's talk about Djokovic. The tennis champion Novak Djokovic is now thanking his fans for their continuous support, quote unquote, ahead

of his court hearing in Australia. His lawyers will have to convince a judge on Monday that he should not be deported over his COVID-19

vaccination status. He's now being kept at a modest hotel in Melbourne under the watch of Border Force officials. CNN's Anna Coren explains it's

where asylum seekers wait for their deportation hearings and sometimes they do so for years.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Behind tinted windows of this four-story hotel in the heart of Melbourne, is where the

world's number one men's tennis star is staying. It's a world away from what Novak Djokovic is accustomed to from his previous trips down under.

As the defending Australian Open champion arrived to claim his attempt to title and break the all-time record for 21 Grand Slam wins.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SERBIAN TENNIS PLAYER: Love affair keeps going. Thank you so much.

COREN: Instead, the 34-year-old unvaccinated Serbian who has been very outspoken about his anti-vaccine views was given a serious dose of reality

by the Australian Border Force when he attempted to enter the country on Wednesday night. They cancelled his visa despite Djokovic receiving an

exemption from two panels of medical experts and ordered for the tennis star to be deported.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Rules are rules. And there are no special cases.

COREN: But rather than getting on a plane home to Belgrade, Djokovic his lawyers are fighting for him to stay in the country and compete. And while

they wait for Monday's hearing, this is where Djokovic must stay an immigration detention facility.

TRA, AUSTRALIAN-SERBIAN JUNIOR TENNIS PLPAYER: So I didn't say why it's fair not and say why he should be stuck wanting to detention center and

everyone has their own freedom of choice vaccinated or not.

COREN: The Serbian government is demanding he be moved to a nicer hotel, while his parents say their son is being treated like a prisoner and held

captive for his beliefs.


KAREN ANDREWS, AUSTRALIAN HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER: Mr. Djokovic is not being held captive in Australia. He is free to leave at any time that he chooses

to do so and Border Force will actually facilitate that.

COREN: But Novak Djokovic is not the only residents of the Park Hotel. Previously used as a quarantine hotel for returning Australians. For the

past year, it's been a detention facility for more than 30 refugees and asylum seekers, languishing inside waiting for their cases to be heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where I live.

COREN: After spending years in offshore detention centers for attempting to enter Australia by boat. Like Mehdi who belongs to a persecuted religious

minority from Iran turning 24 years old today.

MEDHI, REFUGEE FROM IRAN: We are suffering exhausted and we are tired. We've been in detention for more than eight years.

CRAIG FOSTER, RETIRED AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALLER: Good morning, everyone. I'm Craig Foster.

COREN: Famous Australian footballer turned activist Craig Foster, says the country's treatment of refugees is a national embarrassment, and hopes

Djokovic will use this ordeal to become a voice for the voiceless.

FOSTER: Those refugees are trying to reach out to Novak and, you know, as an athlete with incredible privilege and status and fame, perhaps he can

bring some visibility, he can grow or develop some understanding about the way Australia is treating these people and bring that story to the world.

COREN: With Djokovic decides to fight for those forgotten refugees and restore his public image it remains to be seen, but for the majority of

Australians, there is little sympathy for him.

OSCAR STERNER, MELBOURNE RESIDENT: Djokovic is millionaire scumbag who has rightly incurred really that anger of a lot of people in Australia.

COREN: This is a country that has endured some of the toughest quarantine and border restrictions in the world. The City of Melbourne hosting the

Australian Open lockdown for a total of 256 days in its battle against COVID, as a result, 92 percent of Australians over the age of 16 and now

fully vaccinated, and they have little tolerance for a privileged sportstar expecting special treatment. Anna Coren, CNN.


GORANI: Well, there are many angles to this story I want to bring in former professional tennis player Patrick McEnroe, who is now the host of Holding

Court as well as a tennis commentator for ESPN. Thanks, Patrick, for being with us. What is your take on all this drama because he flew all the way to

Australia then was denied entry? And now he's in a detention facility. I mean, he's free to leave the Australian say but, you know, it's very

dramatic what's going on?

PATRICK MCENROE, AMERICAN FORMER PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: That's putting it mildly how love this. I mean, the layers to this story continues like

tentacles, I mean, they just continue to grow. The amount of issues as you just put out in that a great report about the refugees. That's a whole

another issue that Australia has to deal with.

But let's go back to the beginning of this. OK, and who's responsible for what's become really an international debacle? Certainly, Novak Djokovic

has to be out on that list because he made the decision. It's his right to do that to not get vaccinated. B

ut then it's not his right to then go into other countries that have their own rules and regulations, of course, of which Australia, as you mentioned,

again in the piece is very, very stringent about their rules and regulations. And population as for the most part, abided by those rules and


So Novak gets a medical exemption for this state of Victoria, and to Tennis Australia sort of sponsoring his visa to get into the country. The federal

government was not particularly involved in that process. In fact, they weren't involved at all, but they did send a letter about a month before

Djokovic came into the country.

And they said, if a player comes into the country, and they're using -- having COVID-19 in the last six months, as the reason for their medical

exemption, and they're not vaccinated, they will not get into the country. And apparently that's the reason that Novak Djokovic used.

So when he arrived in Australia, after having posted on his Instagram that he's on his way with the exemption, that's what this turned in to political

firestorm in Australia. The Prime Minister got involved. The federal government got involved. They stopped him at the border. Of course, the

Border Patrol is part of the federal government and they said maybe this passed muster with the Victorian State and with Tennis Australia, but this

doesn't pass muster with us. He's not getting into the country.

GORANI: But Patrick, then surely Tennis Australia and the tournament organizers should have planned this better. This isn't a good look. I mean,

I know they have their reasons. Obviously even Australians themselves had a lot of trouble for a long time going back to their own country.


GORANI: But I mean, you end up with this -- the number one tennis player in the world in a sort of detention facility in Melbourne. This is doesn't

look good for Australians either, does it?


MCENROE: Well, because it's not good. And you're 100 percent right, Hala. This was a, to me a complete mess up by the Australian authorities. They

should have been way on top of this. They should have communicated. It was a blame game. The federal government looking to blame the state.

We're used to this the United States. We know how that goes sometime. The state governments say, oh, no, we're going to blame the federal government

for not letting them in. Well, guess what they should have had their ducks lined up in a row way before this had happened.

But I'll tell you one thing too, you got to remember, Rafael Nadal said it about as well as anyone could say it, and Novak Djokovic is a great rival

to him. They're both two of the greatest players of all time, of course, Djokovic going for his 10th Australian Open. And Rafa said just in the last

24 hours, Novak knew the decision he was making. It's his right to make that decision.


MCENROE: He also knew what kind of firestorm this could turn into, not just in Australia, but the rest of Europe, I believe is going to go this

direction as well. So Djokovic is going to have to make this decision if he wants to continue to fight this fight. His own individual needs, of course,

are his.

And again, he has the right to make those. But he doesn't have the right to then go to other countries that have made their own rules and say, I

deserve an exemption. He can try to do it. And initially you're right, Australia said OK, he's got it. But then this because he did -- he became a

pawn in the political --


MCENROE: -- firework to Australia and Australia at this point does not look good, either.

GORANI: Well, let me ask -- this was going to be my next question. The other big grand slam competitions, I'm talking about Roland Garros,

obviously, Wimbledon and all of that. I mean, he needs -- if he wants to really, really make it in the record books, he needs one more when if I --

if I'm correct, at least right to equal the current record?

MCENROE: Well, he needs one more to distance himself with Federer and Nadal. They all have 20 at the moment. So obviously, he's a tennis player.

He's one of the greatest tennis player, in my opinion, the greatest male tennis player of all time with what he's been able to achieve already.

So clearly, he's been able to play thus far, not being vaccinated, but the world is changing. You know, you heard what the French president said. He's

fed up with the people that are unvaccinated. I think a lot of people around the world are feeling that as well. You know, we've all dealt with

this for a long time. We've all had to make sacrifices that we don't necessarily want to make.

And the Australian public, I believe, is the one that pushed the federal government to take this act because they said, as you rightly noted, we've

done our part. We don't want to sit around our house and be under strict quarantine and under lockdown for 262 days, but they did it.

They got their vaccines. They got boosted. They did what the government told them to do. And that's why the upper started. That's why this has

turned into the absolute fiasco that has become. And you're right, Novak Djokovic being held in this hotel, which is turned into this tension center

is not good for anybody.

GORANI: All right, Patrick McEnroe, as always, thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

MCENROE: Thank you, Hala.

GORANI: All right still to come tonight. Hospital staff are not immune from Omicron infectious powers. We'll talk about the pressure on hospitals in

England, next.

Also ahead a united front NATO ministers issue a warning to Russia ahead of a week of high stakes diplomacy, we are live in Moscow.



GORANI: The Omicron variant is taking a massive toll on health care workers in Europe. In England hospital staff absences -- hospital staff absences

shot up nearly 60 percent in the week leading up to January 2nd. The National Health Service as many are either sick with COVID or are having to

isolate. In fact, the military has sent 200 troops to London hospitals just to help out.

Meanwhile, Germany is imposing tougher restrictions even on vaccinated people. They will now be required to show proof of a negative test to enter

restaurants, cafes and bars. Only those with boosters will be exempt.

Ben Wedeman is in Rome covering all of this for us. And let's take a look across the region at record numbers still being set in many countries,

despite the increased restrictions, Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the restrictions don't really seem to be having much of an impact, Hala, on the increasing

numbers of cases we're seeing now. Italy yesterday saw a huge number of new cases 219,000.

Now today, the number being reported which refers to yesterday is 100,000, less than that, but that's because yesterday was a national holiday. But

what we are seeing is that across Europe, that the numbers are increasing, and it's largely as a result of the Omicron variant which clearly is not as

is the vaccines that are in use are not as effective even though for instance, in Italy, somewhere close to 90 percent of the population has

received at least one dose of the vaccines.

And in fact, some hospitals here in Italy are considering reintroducing what's called the Black Code, whereby doctors are essentially going to have

to decide who is worth saving, and who they're just going to have to let die because of the pressure in certain hospitals here in Italy, on the

medical staff and the resources available sort of bringing us back to some of the darkest scenes from the earliest stages of the pandemic here in

Italy in the beginning of 2020, Hala.

GORANI: OK, Ben Wedeman, thanks very much. Still to come tonight, more on our top story. The deadly crackdown on protesters in Kazakhstan and the

President's vowed to destroy those who oppose him.




GORANI: Open fire to kill without warning. That stark shocking order from the President of Kazakhstan to his security forces against his own people

after days of unrest that have rocked the country.

Dozens are reportedly dead and around 3000 detained. Demonstrations began initially over rising fuel prices but they escalated with clashes between

protesters and security forces.

Well, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called the protesters terrorists and criminals and vowed to destroy them. A state-run broadcaster now reports

the Capital City Airport will be closed until at least Sunday.

Here's CNN's Nina Dos Santos with a look at what's at stake.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Kazakhstan rarely makes headlines in the West but that changed when these protests of a rising

living costs were met with brutal repression.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voiceover): I gave an order to law enforcement agencies and the army to shoot to kill without warning.

DOS SANTOS: A so-called peacekeepers from Russia and other post-Soviet states hit the streets of the country's biggest city, Almaty, there's deep

unease at where the Central Asian state is now heading.

ANNETTE BOHN, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, RUSSIA AND EURASIA, CHATHAM HOUSE: The rest is going to be keeping an eye on Russian imperial ambitions, and perhaps

they could start stationing troops there.

But nonetheless, they could -- they could make several power plays.

DOS SANTOS: Home to 19 million people spread over the ninth-largest sovereign landmass, Kazakhstan stands between two increasingly autocratic

superpowers, Russia to the north and China in the east.

Economically, it still has one foot in the past, relying on Russia for most of its trade. Whilst also hosting the Baikonur Cosmodrome, crucial to the

Kremlin space program.

Large deposits of coal and natural gas, as well as a 3 percent chunk of the planet's oil reserves, and 40 percent of its uranium mean that Kazakhstan's

people could be rich. But, thanks to a ruling elite in power since the fall of communism, few, sharing that wealth.

The number of billionaires almost doubled in Kazakhstan during the pandemic, according to some estimates, while the country scored just 38 out

of 100 in a recent corruption index.

This week's protest will only further deter foreign investments needed to kick start the economy and reduce unemployment.

BOHN: It forms a centerpiece for China's Belt and Road Initiative and China has invested over 26 billion in oil and other investments in Kazakhstan.

There are substantial investments on the part of Western international oil companies.

I think the general population or people tend to be unaware that Kazakhstan is, of course, a leading oil and gas exporter and producer.

DOS SANTOS: With the country in disarray, this former Energy Minister, an oligarch, sentenced in absentia in Kazakhstan for corruption charges that

he denies, is making his own bid as a self-styled opposition figure from Paris.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voiceover): In literally three days, the revolution is taking place. There's a real revolution not only from the point of view of

regime change, regime change has not yet taken place, but the revolution has taken place in people's minds.

People have understood that they are not weak that they can force the regime to listen.

DOS SANTOS: For now, it's unclear what the future holds for Kazakhstan and the country's stymied potential. What is becoming clearer is the world is

watching and is worried.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN in London.


GORANI: Well, some of Kazakhstan's immediate neighbors are signaling support for the government. The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, sent a

message to the Kazakhstani leader saying China opposes any forces "undermining Kazakhstan's stability" according to Chinese state television.

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, went one step further.

The country's defense ministry says nine Russian military aircraft have already landed in Kazakhstan with more on the way. But that's not the only

reason Russia is making headlines. NATO foreign ministers met today and say they're committed to a united response to Russia over its aggression

towards Ukraine.

The U.S. Secretary of State said the Kazakhstan and Ukraine situations are different, but that they share one common factor.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: There are very particular drivers of what's happening in Kazakhstan right now, as I said

that go to economic and political matters. And what's happening in there is different from what's happening on Ukraine's borders.

Having said that, I think one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to



GORANI: Let's begin CNN's, Nic Robertson. He's live for us in Moscow.

And let's start with Kazakhstan and the President of Kazakhstan asked for Russian and -- help and help from former Soviet republics and he got that

help very quickly.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Very quickly, indeed. He had met just a few days before right at the end of last year with

President Putin at a summit in St. Petersburg. Indeed, the former President of Kazakhstan has been there as well.

What -- the support that President Putin is giving is quite a significant help and it's close to several thousand troops, there's 70 aircraft -- 70

military transport aircraft that are involved right now and shipping military hardware and shipping the troops in that role that they have that

as a "peacekeeping role" but allows them to shoot back at an armed gang and allows them also to step beyond just protecting buildings and actually

dispersing crowds.

It's a double-edged sword for President Putin. If his troops get it wrong, that's going to reflect badly on Russia's influence in Kazakhstan right now

and if he -- if he stays too long, then that's going to set him further at odds with countries like the United States, UK, and others who would have

concerns and potentially China too.

GORANI: And what about that NATO meeting and the concerns over Ukraine? Because as we've been reporting over the last several weeks, there is a

very important January 10 meeting scheduled between the U.S. and Russian sides to sit down and talk about these issues that are very much dividing


ROBERTSON: Yes. And we heard from Secretary Blinken talking about that as well. I mean, he said that you know, one assessment was that Russia was

trying to sort of exploit any differences, any daylight between the positions of the U.S. and its -- and its NATO partners and we -- and other

European nations who are not part of NATO.

You know, the voice from NATO has been one of a unified position. But coming into these talks, Russia's position, President Putin's position

really lacks credibility as a negotiate -- as a negotiating partner who can come in and negotiate in good faith, in part because of the threats he has

made, the military moves that he's made close to Ukraine and his past track record.

This is what Jens Stoltenberg, UN Secretary-General had to say about the -- NATO Secretary-General had to say about that.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The challenge is that when you see this gradual military buildup, combined with the threatening rhetoric,

combined with the track record of Russia that had actually used force against neighbors before, Georgia, and Ukraine, the capabilities, the

rhetoric, and the track record, of course, that sends a message that is a real risk for new armed conflict in Europe.



ROBERTSON: Quite a chilling message from the Secretary-General there. He said that Russian -- Russia continues to build up troops and military

hardware like artillery pieces, close to the border with Ukraine, Hala.

GORANI: OK. Nic Robertson, thanks so much, live in Moscow.

We'll be right back.


GORANI: The world of film is mourning. A star, who broke down barriers, Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor passed

away today at the age of 94.

Poitier was one of Hollywood's most revered leading men for decades, but his influence and impact stretched far beyond the big screen. Sara Sidner

has his story.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Sidney Poitier was so much more than a film Legend.

He is revered not just because of what he did on screen, but also because of his tremendous impact off-screen as a champion of Civil Rights.

SIDNEY POITIER, ACTOR: We believe in the essential dignity of every human being.

SIDNER: The son of a Bahamian tomato farmer, Poitier lived a life of first, the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor, and one of the first

black people to become a true Hollywood star among the greatest of all time.

POITIER: We have lots and lots and lots of African-American actors.

Now, when we didn't have any, I appeared not because I brought so much because -- but because the time was right.

SIDNER: But his career almost ended before it ever began.

As a teenager, Poitier audition for the American Negro Theatre, but he was quickly thrown out because he couldn't read, he was tone-deaf, and he had a

thick Bahamian accent.

POITIER: He says, you know actor, we got next to the door, he opened it pushed me out and slam.

SIDNER: A determined Poitier would spend months perfecting his acting skills and modifying his speaking voice.

His hard work would pay off in a big way.

POITIER: I was right.

I know I was right.

SIDNER: In the 1950s, he appeared in more than a dozen films beginning with No Way Out and including an Oscar-nominated performance in The Defiant


However, it was his portrayal of a former GI in the 1963 movie Lilies Of The Field that broke Hollywood's color barrier, earning him the coveted

Oscar for Best Actor.


SIDNER: Poitier never overcame his tone-deafness.

Lip syncing the song, Amen, in the famous Lilies' scene, the songwriter Jester Hairston actually did the singing.

Poitier was considered a bankable star in 1967, starring in the landmark film, To Sir, With Love.

POITIER: Those kids are devils incarnate.

I tried everything.

SIDNER: Playing characters that would force audiences to confront racial prejudices.

POITIER: They call me Mr. Tibbs.

SIDNER: But he would also challenge the Hollywood establishment, forcing a change in his iconic role as Detective Virgil Tibbs in the 1967 Academy

Award-winning, "In The Heat Of The Night" because of a scene that would require him to acquiesce to a racist character.

ROD STEIGER, ACTOR: I'm going to take you over to Brownsville and put you on the bus myself.

POITIER: You aren't taking me anywhere you dig.

You're holding the wrong man.

SIDNER: That same year, he would star in the watershed film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, alongside Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

The film not only depicted a successful interracial relationship, it also foreshadowed future progress in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you given any thought to the problems your children are going to have?

POITIER: Yes. And they'll have some. And we'll have the children. Otherwise, I don't know what you'd call it but you couldn't call it a


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that the way Joey feels?

POITER: She feels that every single one of our children will be President of the United States and they'll all have colorful administrations.

SIDNER: It's only fitting that in 2009, Sidney Poitier would be presented with the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Poitier once called his driving purpose to make himself a better person.

He did and he made us all a little bit better along the way.


GORANI: Sidney Poitier rest in peace, absolutely legendary actor.

Chinese authorities are telling hospitals in lockdown cities to accept all patients into care no matter their COVID test result.

This is after this week we saw some very tragic stories from people on the lockdown city of Xi'an, not about the toll of Coronavirus itself, but from

state rules and regulations that have kept them from accessing basic needs and even life-saving care.

Kristie Lu Stout tells us how China's zero COVID policy is playing out.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): As the Chinese city of Xi'an enters the third week of hard lockdown, a harrowing story of loss and


As we reported earlier in a graphic video that went viral in China, a pregnant woman was turned away from a hospital in Xi'an because she didn't

have a valid COVID-19 test.

According to the posts from a Weibo user who claims to be her niece, the woman is sitting outside the hospital and bleeding so much.

There was a pool of blood at her feet.

Hours later, she was finally admitted but ultimately suffered a miscarriage.

And we have since learned that hospital officials have been punished.

The head of the Xi'an Gaoxin Hospital and its Emergency Center Director had been suspended, the municipal government announced on Thursday.

The director of Xi'an CDC was also issued a disciplinary warning by the municipal government.

He apologized and bowed to the patient.

But to angry netizens in China, it's not enough.

One Weibo user accuses the government of only taking actions after tragedies happen.

Another says there's no need to sacrifice individuals for the group because we should be able to protect people's lives.

A top-rated comment adds, this just goes to show COVID-19 might not kill you, but bureaucrats can.

A metropolis of 13 million, Xi'an has been in hard lockdown since December the 23rd after more than 200 local COVID-19 cases were detected over two


Residents are forbidden.


GORANI: All right, welcome back, everybody. You all remember the murder case of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, three men convicted of murdering a 25-

year-old jogger in February 2020.

They're being sentenced today in Brunswick, Georgia. This is the judge, Timothy Walmsley, he's getting ready to read the sentences for the three

men. They will be sentenced to life in prison.

The question is, can they be or will they be eligible for parole while serving that life sentence? I believe we can go live now to the courtroom.

Let's listen.


TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, JUDGE: -- And then address each one of the defendants with regard to sentencing, and the remarks are intended to be general but

also taken into consideration in the individual sentencing portion of the court's statement.

So that's how we intend to proceed.

So the court asserted the evidence in the case as accepted the jury's verdict, listened to the presentations here today in aggravation and

mitigation, and candidly, have spent a lot of time thinking about this.


WALMSLEY: This is a case that has taken a lot of time and energy on a lot of people's parts and has been a case of note, not just in this community,

but really in a lot of communities.

Well, we're here today to determine is what an appropriate sentence is quite separate from the notoriety of the case, and any other outside

influence that may exist.

And so the court is going to be very careful in explaining that the court has considered just the evidence and what is appropriate under the

circumstances this case to consider in the Superior Court.

So that all being said, let me start with this statement.

As we all now know, based upon the verdict that was rendered in this court in November, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered.

It's a tragedy.

It's a tragedy on many, many levels.

Almost 20 -- I'm sorry, on February 23 of 2020, almost two years ago, a resident of Glynn County, a graduate of Brunswick High, a son, a brother, a

young man with dreams was gunned down in this community.

As we understand it, he left his home apparently to go for a run and he ended up running for his life.

He entered the English home at approximately 1:04 p.m. and left that home at about one away on that day.

At 1:14, Greg McMichael calls 911 to let them know that there's a black male running down the street.

And within moments, Ahmaud Arbery has shot and killed.

The three men that are now before this court chased him in a residential neighborhood for at least five minutes in pickup trucks armed with a

shotgun and a .357 revolver.

State mentioned this today about the time period, but I do want to put that time period in context.

And the only way I could think to do so may be a little theatrical, but I think it's appropriate.

What I saw to get a concept of time, and so what I'm going to do is I'm going to sit silently for one minute.

And that one minute represents a fraction of the time that Ahmaud Arbery was running in Satilla Shores.

That's approximately a minute.

Again, the chase that occurred in Satilla Shores occurred over about a five-minute period.

And when I thought about this, I thought from a lot of different angles, and I kept coming back to the terror that must have been in the mind of the

young man running through Satilla Shores.

The jury heard the evidence and returned a verdict and what a difficult job they had under the circumstances without any comment on the verdict itself.

I think all counsel will agree and accept that this was a very difficult case to even get a jury impaneled on when they're issued out there with

regard to the jury that were brought up in the press and elsewhere.


WALMSLEY: But I want to give credit to those members of the panel not because of their verdict, just because of the fact that they were willing

to go through the process that they went through with the state, with the defense, and with this court.

We're here today to sentence the defendants.

In discharging the duty, this court is required to consider all mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

The court has considered those circumstances, including but not limited to all aspects of the crimes charged, the past criminal record, or lack


The defendants have also considered any lawful evidence which tends to show the motive of the defendants, their lack of remorse, their general moral

character, and any predisposition to commit other crimes.

Now, I think, in this case, the record speaks for itself.

And the defendants' own words, I think, guide this court with regard to sentencing.

Went back through the -- my notes and other resources to pull some of the quotes that we have in this case.

I'll start with Greg McMichael. In my opinion, Greg McMichael very early on in this tried to establish a narrative. He made comments like Ahmaud Arbery

is trapped like a rat. Stop or I'll blow your and I won't repeat it again head off. Effectively admitted that he wasn't sure what Ahmaud Arbery had

done wrong.

"I don't think the guy has actually stolen anything out there, or if he did, it was early in the process. But he keeps going back over and over

again into this damn house."

Getting back to the narrative, he told Travis you have no choice.

He told another individual to the side part of the scene, this guy isn't no shuffler, this guy's an asshole. Commented that he wanted him, Ahmaud

Arbery, to know that we weren't playing. If I could have gotten a shot at the guy I would have shot.

Travis McMichael claims he was in shock. But it's interesting because he talks about his concern for his child and his own well-being. Part of this

was while the victim was actually laying there in the street. Commented this is the worst day of my life.

Well, I think it's been touched on here today. There were other individuals that were impacted. I'll look at the video of this incident. When I say the

video I think everybody knows what we're talking about.

But there was one part of it that struck me is absolutely chilling and that is I believe it's in the enhanced video provided by the GBI.

There's a frame where I believe Ahmaud Arbery, it looks to be if he's 20 yards out that may be close, 30 yards out, is the frame of Travis McMichael

lifting the shotgun to fire at Ahmaud Arbery.

And you watch that with context, I want to say context after hearing the evidence in this case, again thinking about a young man that had been

running at that point for almost five minutes and it is -- it is a chilling, truly disturbing scene.

And we got there because Travis McMichael's father saw Ahmaud Arbery hauling down the street and calls out let's go.

At that point, Travis McMichael despite whatever it may have been going on in his life at that time, to guard the family or otherwise, just goes,

grabs a shotgun, and goes because he assumes that it is the right thing to do.

Ahmaud Arbery was then hunted down and shot. And he was killed because individuals here in this courtroom took the law into their own hands.

Mr. Bryan, he joined in after calling out to the McMichaels you all got him?

Claim didn't know what was going on but obviously wanted to know if this individual who was running through the neighborhood, who he didn't know,

had been caught in some way said "I figured it done something wrong, but I didn't know for sure."

All right, that wasn't actually this quote.

Those quotes are two separate quotes.

"Didn't know for sure, I thought he would get away."

And this is the part that is disturbing to me with Roddie Bryan.

If the guy would have stopped, this would have never happened.

All of these quotes give context I think to the video that we saw during the case.

And Miss Wanda Cooper Jones this morning made a statement that I think when you look at the statements and you see the video is very true and that is

she said when they could not scare or intimidate him they killed him.