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Hala Gorani Tonight

World Awaits Russia's Response on Ukraine; Prince Andrew Demands a Jury Trial; Germany's Offer to Send 5k Helmets to Ukraine Provokes Outrage; Ukraine Crisis' Impact on Energy Costs; Russia Could Be Removed from SWIFT Financial Network; Growing Concerns as Russia Sends Troops to Belarus; Downing Street Awaits Report into Lockdown Parties; Delhi Parents Push to Open Schools after Nearly Two Years; Pope Benedict and Sexual Abuse. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 27, 2022 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN in London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Vladimir Putin apparently reflecting on lives lost in past

conflicts while the world awaits Russia's response to the U.S. over the current security standoff.

But with troops still poised on his country's border, I will ask Ukraine's ambassador to Germany what he wants from allies. Then, Prince Andrew

demands a jury trial and his accuser's attorney says they're looking forward to it. We'll explain the next steps of this legal drama.

No definitive response yet, but Russia says there are few reasons for optimism after reviewing written answers from Washington and NATO about its

security demands. The Kremlin says the documents are in the hands of Vladimir Putin, it says it won't rush to any conclusions, but says it is

quote, "absolutely clear that Russia's main security concerns about Ukraine and NATO were not taken into account" according to them. The Russian

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the documents could lead to dialogue on quote, "secondary issues, but not the fundamentals."


SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER, RUSSIA (through translator): There is no positive reaction on the main issue in this document. The main issue is our

clear position on the inadmissibility of further expansion of NATO to the east and the deployment of strike weapons that could threaten the territory

of the Russian federation.


GORANI: And the latest is that the U.S. President Joe Biden and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are talking about the crisis this

hour on the phone. Ukraine today said it expects Russia to pursue diplomacy for at least two more weeks. The Kremlin has said the prospect of NATO

expanding further eastward is a matter of life or death for Russia. So, it's unclear how this fundamental issue will be resolved with all sides

digging in.

Let's bring in our team of reporters, Nic Robertson is in Moscow, Kylie Atwood is at the State Department, and Sam Kiley is in Kiev. Nic, let's

start with you. We showed our viewers at the top of the hour, images of Vladimir Putin reflecting on lives lost at the Leningrad Siege Memorial.

What -- obviously, we can't read minds, but what is the expectation now? Are we moving away or closer to potential conflict here?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This was a siege, just to reflect on those pictures a little, a siege in World War II that cost

about 800,000 lives and lasted 900 days, and it's seared into the memories of many Russians particularly of Vladimir Putin's generation. Of course,

Leningrad becoming St. Petersburg, the place where he grew up as a child, grew up in the rubble of the Second World War.

And really, the decision that he faces in the coming days as he tries to achieve what he wants to achieve, which is to return to some of the sort of

post-World War II geographic, geo-strategic influence that the Soviet Union once had in the embers of -- in the embers of World War II. As he reflects

on that and the deaths and the lives lost in Leningrad, I know, many more millions across the whole of Russia during World War II.

You know, he's looking at the choice of, do I escalate the things that I'm not getting satisfaction on with Ukraine and NATO, or do I try to pursue

those secondary things? And I think where we're at the moment is, you know, there is a moment of time here where the Kremlin can reflect. After all,

let's face it, they did know what was going to be in those written answers, because that had been -- that had been said to them, to their face several


But you know, there's effectively a ceasefire around Donbas, how effective it is, we don't know. But both sides have sort of sworn to that for the

next couple of weeks. So, that buys a little time. Does Putin have to make a hard decision right now? No. He can still play for a bit more time

because his military maneuvers are programmed to go on for another month or so. So, that's not a hard deadline for him. The Foreign Ministry will speak

tomorrow, so we'll get more insights tomorrow.

GORANI: All right, Nic, thanks very much. I want to go to Sam Kiley in Kiev. So, what are officials saying there about their expectations? It

seems as though there is some signaling from them that they don't believe anything is imminent, even though they're still very much concerned,


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Hala. They are sort of slightly at odds if you like with the American or

more broadly, western analysis of the threat to Ukraine. From their own deductions, they say it's not imminent, but it is close. So many weeks away

they say.


One of the reasons I think that there's a little bit more hope for a diplomatic solution is that yesterday, under the auspices of what's known

as the Normandy group, there was a meeting between officials from Russia and Ukraine in which they agreed to continue to talk about a ceasefire

based on the largely defunct Minsk agreement of several years back. Now, that is an agreement to ceasefire in the Donbas region and then trying to

work things out.

It pre-dates obviously the latest threats effectively against Ukraine. Certainly, that's how it's seen here by Russia. So, there's a dialogue

going on over the Russian -- the status of that piece of territory and known as Donbas in eastern Ukraine. So, a little bit of glimmer of hope --

I have to say here in the capital Kiev, you wouldn't know that this is a country fearing an invasion by a massive neighbor. Life goes on completely

as normal.

And the other point they're making, and I think this is quite militarily important, even though there are estimates of 127,000, according to

Ukrainian-Russian soldiers close to the borders with Ukraine. Their estimate really is that it would take millions to successfully or at least

a million to really conduct a massive invasion of this country. So --

GORANI: Yes --

KILEY: There's a little bit more relaxed view here, perhaps, than there is in some of the major western capitals. Hala?

GORANI: That's very interesting. And it's also interesting to remind oneself by looking on a map of the size of Ukraine. This is -- this is not

at all a small country. And Kylie Atwood, what's interesting is we were kind of -- my team and I, looking at maps of what Soviet Russia looked like

and the really huge empire and zone of influence they had which encompass, of course, Ukraine and many other satellite states that are now

independent, some of which have joined NATO, and what this map looks like now.

So, Russia is telling America, we have major security concerns, we're encircled. You have got to guarantee us that Ukraine is not going to be

joining NATO. The Americans will not do that, but how far are they willing to go?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that's the key question here, right? The United States has repeatedly laid out these areas

where they're willing to have discussions with Russia over missile placements in Europe, over strategic weapons and their placements if

they're in Ukraine or not over nuclear weapons -- over, you know, how to put boundaries and things in place that would diffuse any future problems

from, coming to the surface.

But they haven't been exactly explicit in terms of saying, these are the missile systems that we are willing to move or, this is the country where

we are going to take strategic weapons out of. So, what U.S. officials will say is that those are the kinds of conversations that they would have

behind closed doors when Russia actually sits down and shows that it is committed to engagement.

Because right now, there have been, you know, multiple levels and layers of discussion, but they haven't actually, you know, gotten to the meat of the

matter where both countries have agreed that they are going to discuss one thing where they think that they could both come home with something that

is positive. So, there are questions there, but right now, diplomatically- speaking, the Biden administration is in waiting mode, right?

They are waiting for what President Putin says, we obviously know kind of the early read from the Kremlin with regard to their written responses, but

what Putin says here, his decision here, is the key. And so that's why the Biden administration is just kind of, you know, waiting. Secretary Blinken

said the ball is in Russia's court now, and that means that the Biden administration is working, of course, on the other things, right?

The military aspect of this. These U.S. troops that are on high alert potentially to go to Europe. How to wrap up all of the European allies to

make sure that the costs that Russia would suffer would actually go into effect in a unified way.

GORANI: All right, Kylie Atwood, thanks so much, and to Sam Kiley in Kiev and Nic Robertson in Moscow, thanks to all of you. We'll be speaking again

very soon. Now, let's talk about another angle to this story. Germany is in a particular position, it's been criticized for not joining some NATO

members in sending actual weaponry to Ukraine, defensive weaponry. Berlin now says it will supply, instead of doing that, 5,000 military helmets, an

offer that was dismissed by the mayor of Kiev as a joke, a joke, he said. Today, Germany's defense minister stood by her government's decision.


CHRISTINE LAMBRECHT, DEFENSE MINISTER, GERMANY (through translator): The German government has very clearly agreed that we will not send any lethal

weapons or arms deliveries to conflict areas because we do not want to fuel these conflicts further.


I believe this is the right approach in this case. We are getting involved in various other ways because we are firmly convinced that we still have a

chance by talks that have not taken place for a long time that are finally taking place again to achieve a peaceful solution.


GORANI: I'm joined now by Ukraine's ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, he's live in Berlin, thanks ambassador for being with us. So, Vitali

Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev said this is a joke, essentially saying, it's insulting, first, you say you're not going to send any defensive military

equipment, and then you send 5,000 helmets. What's your reaction to that?

ANDRIY MELNYK, UKRAINE'S AMBASSADOR TO GERMANY: Hi, Miss Gorani. In fact, Ukrainians are quite disappointed that the new German government is so

reluctant to join other allies, the United States, Great Britain, and to send defensive weaponry to Ukraine, to strengthen our army. The latest

decision to send these 5,000 helmets is a good sign, at least, that the new government is beginning to rethink its restrictive policy, but it is far

not enough what we need.

We need real lethal weapons to ensure that the price for new possible war for new Russian aggression, which is -- which is imminent, which is there,

that the price is going to be quite high, and only by these means we can deter this new military invasion from Russia.

GORANI: And it's not just about the helmets. Germany seems to be opposed to an EU training mission in Ukrainian. They want to soften the concept of

what that mission would accomplish, also blocking the delivery of some tanks, Estonian tanks that are on its territory to Ukraine. So it's a

longer list than just the 5,000 helmets that Ukrainian officials are frustrated by. Why do you think that Germany is holding on to these


MELNYK: You are right, and it is not just helmets. What we would need, we would a revisit -- a revision, a true revision of this of the German policy

towards weapon exports. And as you know, Germany is one of the worldwide biggest weapon exporters, and, therefore, we cannot understand this

reluctance and we would hope and expect that the new government would not just show signs of solidarity.

We do need to -- this -- but what we do expect from the German government, from the German politics, that our coverage is indeed, and all the problems

that have been explained, or the reasons why Berlin is still hesitating, they are not understandable, and for Ukrainians because we don't think that


GORANI: Can I ask you -- can I ask you the question everybody will ask you at this stage, which is, obviously, Germany has a very dependent

relationship with Russia over gas, and energy supplies. In fact, the CEO of the biggest gas company in your country had this to say about Germany's

relationship with Russia. Listen, and then I'll get your reaction.


YURIY VITRENKO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NAFTOGAZ: Nord Stream 2 for example, this project is not compliant with European rules at the moment,

that's why it cannot become operating. So, it's a moment of truth for the German government -- for the new German government to show that there is a

free world and they deserve to be one of the leaders of the united Europe.


GORANI: So, just to underline what he said, here's a graphic that shows how much of Germany's gas depends on Russian exports to the country, and it's a

huge amount. Let me put the map up here. You have 32 percent of its pipeline gas, 34 percent of its crude oil and 53 percent of its hard coal.

Do you think this is the reason behind Germany's reluctance to provide defensive weapons to your country in this tense environment?

MELNYK: In fact, there are many reasons why Germany is still rejecting any weapons deliveries to Ukraine, one of them is, of course, this dependence

from the Russian gas, and there are a number of other issues, for example. The fear of provoking -- of provoking Putin to start this new war.


And there are also historical reasons that our German partners stage in order to explain this reluctance -- I mean, the Second World War and the

Nazi crimes committed in the former Soviet Union and to this kind of --

GORANI: I know --

MELNYK: Historical responsibility is basically still in the society, but also in the political circles here in Berlin is basically related only to

the Russians which is, of course, not correct, and it is not just. All those --

GORANI: But you seem to think -- you seem to say that the current government is even more passive than the government of Angela Merkel when

it comes to speaking up against potential Russian expansionism. Is that your position?

MELNYK: We think it is not too late to change this stance, and now we have kind of a moment of true -- of truth where we can see who our real friends

of Ukraine in this very dramatic situation. And therefore, we still hope -- we're still having hope that our German friends would see the true danger

which is coming from Russia these days, and weeks. And we hope that there will be not just rhetoric, but we hope that Berlin government would send to

Ukraine defensive weapons like surface-to-air missile systems, anti-tank- guided missiles, but also Naval ships.

Because our Navy as you know during the Crimea annexation was taken away by the Russians, was partially destroyed, and --

GORANI: Sure --

MELNYK: Therefore, we need to strengthen the Ukrainian army and to show that Ukraine is ready to face this new aggression from Russia. And what we

need is unity of our partners, of Americans, of Germans, of Europeans, only in this sense we can make sure that this war is not going to end.

GORANI: All right, thank you so much. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk joining us live from Berlin. Appreciate it.

MELNYK: Thank you so much.

GORANI: Still to come tonight, it's been a busy month for North Korea, but experts disagree on whether all the latest missile launches show the

country's true capability, or whether it is just for show. Plus, Prince Andrew on the defensive, again. We'll hear why his accuser's attorney says

he's blaming the victim. We'll be right back.



GORANI: The United States is condemning North Korea's latest reported missile test as South Korea convened an emergency meeting and Japan called

the launch regrettable. South Korea says Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles from its East Coast on Thursday, that would be its sixth

missile test this month alone. CNN's Paula Hancocks has our story from Seoul.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This time last year, Kim Jong-un revealed his weapons wish-list with a five-year deadline for his

experts to achieve it. This month alone has seen what is believed to be six separate missile tests, the busiest January on record.

JEFFREY LEWIS, PROFESSOR, MIDDLEBURY INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The North Koreans are pretty methodically working through the list of

missiles that they announced in January 2021. So, everything we've seen they warned us was coming and, in some cases, even showed us prototypes.

HANCOCKS: North Korea says it's testing hypersonic missiles fast and maneuverable in flight, making them almost impossible to shoot down, a

nightmare for missile defense systems. But weapons experts do question how far along Pyongyang really is. At last week's politburo meeting led by Kim

Jong-un, Pyongyang said it's considering quote, "restarting all temporarily-suspended activities", assumed to mean nuclear tests on hold

since September 2017. And then to continental ballistic missile tests, ICBMs which could theoretically hit mainland United States.

North Korea has not tested an ICBM since November 2017.

LEWIS: I think we're headed towards tests of very long-range missiles including ICBMs. I think Kim now has said that a moratorium are off a

couple of times. And so, this is one of those things where when they repeat something over and over and over again, they're waiting for us to get the


HANCOCKS: Two important dates are coming up, the 80th anniversary of the birth of his father Kim Jong-il next month, then the 110th birthday to his

grandfather Kim il-Sung in April. Always national holidays, but anniversaries ending in a zero are generally marked in a more significant


JOHN DELURY, YONSEI UNIVERSITY: They've got to do something, you know, at a minimum, it has to be a parade, it has to be something that the Kim-ruling

regime can show to the people, here's how great our country is, here's what you should have pride in.

HANCOCKS: The Biden administration has said it's ready to talk, but Kim does not seem ready to listen. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a fierce

supporter of engagement is running out of time. Presidential elections are March 9th, and he leaves office in May.

DUYEON KIM, CENTER FOR A NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: I think North Korea might be interested in dialogue if the terms are met under North Korea's

conditions. But for the time being, I think North Korea is squarely inward- focused.

HANCOCKS: The country's testing has surprised some who assumed a quieter run-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics. President Xi Jinping, Kim's biggest

ally and benefactor is unlikely to want instability in the region. But with the bulk of Biden's foreign policy attention currently elsewhere, North

Korea may feel it has a window to test its short-range technology. And if it really does want Washington's attention, ICBMs and nuclear tests are

guaranteed to get it. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


GORANI: Now, to the Prince Andrew potentially -- upcoming trial -- potential trial that is coming up. Virginia Giuffre's attorney says her

team looks forward to confronting Prince Andrew in court after he demanded a jury trial in her lawsuit against him. Giuffre is suing Andrew for sexual

abuse in civil court, saying she was trafficked to the royal by Jeffrey Epstein while she was underage.

Yesterday, Andrew's legal team filed an 11-page response denying all allegations again and accusing Giuffre of wrongful conduct. Giuffre's

attorney says the prince is attempting to blame an abuse victim for bringing it on herself. CNN legal analyst Paul Callan joins me now from New

Jersey. So, Paul, if both sides want a jury trial, will it definitely happen?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Unless the case settles, yes, it will happen. Now, of course, a case like this often does settle because nobody

wants to face the embarrassment of a public jury trial. But if both sides choose to go forward, yes, it will be a jury trial.

GORANI: Except Virginia Giuffre has said publicly she wants her day in court, she wants him to be held accountable.

CALLAN: Plaintiffs in these cases, and she's a plaintiff in this case.

GORANI: Yes --

CALLAN: Normally want jury trials because jurors tend to be very generous in cases where there's an abuse of a child that's claimed, and that's of

course, exactly what's being claimed in this case.


GORANI: So, there was also the question of this picture that we've seen now, it feels like a million times. This picture of when Virginia Giuffre

says she was underage, 17 years old, and Prince Andrew at the time with his arm around her. His team is saying they can neither confirm nor deny the

authenticity of the photo. Why would -- why would a defense attorney tell his client to say this at this stage?

CALLAN: He's in a really difficult position in this photograph, because the photograph clearly depicts him, I suppose they're claiming it's photo-

shopped, possibly. So, his attorneys are saying, don't admit that it's you, just claim that we don't have enough information yet to make a decision on

that. It's not unusual, actually, for a defense attorney to make such a claim because with the new photo technology, it's very easy to alter

photographs, and sometimes you have to test them in court to see if they're real.

GORANI: So, will it be some sort of battle of the experts, photo-shop experts or something?

CALLAN: That aspect of the case, it might be a battle of the experts. But of course, the defense could also change as it gets closer to trial. If the

defense attorneys conclude there's no question that that's an authentic photograph, they may withdraw the claim.

GORANI: I wonder, are these proceedings in civil court, are they made public? Will we be able to hear the arguments of and the testimony of both

sides during this trial?

CALLAN: Oh, yes. The trial itself will absolutely be public in all respects. As a matter of fact, even the depositions in this case, which is

the testimony that's taken in advance of trial, they may also be released to the public as well. So, the royal family is going to be in for a real

pounding as this case goes on -- and, you know, I wanted to add, Hala, the --

GORANI: Yes --

CALLAN: Defense in this case has done something that I think is absolutely bizarre and, in some respects, disgusting. They have asserted what's called

an affirmative defense. And it's called the affirmative defense of unclean hands. Saying essentially that the alleged victim in this case can't bring

a case because she has unclean hands. Now, in legal terms, this means she's responsible for what happened, not the prince.

GORANI: Right --

CALLAN: Very odd thing to claim in defense of a case like this.

GORANI: Which is why Giuffre's team is saying that they're basically blaming an abused victim. All right, well, thanks very much Paul Callan,

certainly this response by the -- Prince Andrew's team is generating a lot of interest. We appreciate your analysis.

CALLAN: Thank you, Hala.

GORANI: And still to come tonight, energy costs are already high this year, and it will probably get worse. Investors are worried about the crisis over

Ukraine especially when it comes to oil. We'll discuss. And also, ahead, the U.K. holds its breath, the whole country, it feels like, waiting to see

what's next for Boris Johnson. We'll bring you the latest on Sue Gray's highly anticipated report about party-gate at 10 Downing Street. We'll be

right back.




GORANI: Gas prices are going up in many parts of the world. And an invasion of Ukraine by Russia could, we should say, will, push them even higher. Oil

topped $90 a barrel on Wednesday first time in seven years. Prices steadied today.

But investors are still worried about energy costs in the months to come. Russia is second only to Saudi Arabia when it comes to oil exports and any

new sanctions from the West would have a major impact on global markets. CNN Business anchor Richard Quest joins me from Dallas, Texas.

A major hub for the oil industry and before we get to potential sanctions against Russia invading Ukraine, involving its removal from the SWIFT

banking system, a big deal for them, talk about the energy angle here.

I was discussing with the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Germany, in particular, is dependent on Russian oil and gas and whether or not that

plays a role in some of the geostrategic decision-making, talk to us about the Russian supplies to Europe and how crucial they are.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: They are extremely important and even more so at this time of the year, during the Northern Hemispheric winter, when, of

course, the demand goes up dramatically; particularly, of course, in many parts of Europe having a very cold winter.

Now the Russian gas lines and oil lines come through Europe. This is even before you get to Nord Stream 2, the new one not online. So if Russia

decided to put her foot on the neck of Europe's gas supply, that would be very damaging.

Now President Putin says not only is he not going to that do that, Gazprom is meeting its contractual obligations. But it's not about reality but

about the threat and the perception. The perception is Europe is dangerously reliant upon Russia when it comes to gas.

Add in the fact economies are moving as a result of a reopening, this is why you have such a high, a seven-year high.

GORANI: So, the threats go both ways, obviously. Western countries, especially the United States with the power to sanction Russia in terms of

its entire banking system, being taken out of the SWIFT currency exchange mechanism, what impact would that have on the Russian economy?

QUEST: Well, it would have one of those tailored and targeted effects, very damaging. SWIFT is the international consortia by which banks agree country

to country how they're going to exchange money between each other.

It is the plumbing, if you will, of global financial transfers. If Russia - - and it would be a nuclear option, a small nuclear option, if they were to throw Russia or suspend Russian banks from SWIFT, very damaging to the

Russian economy. They simply would not be able to do the international transfers, which is the backbone of business.

GORANI: When you say the nuclear option, meaning this really would be probably one of the most damaging acts, one of the most damaging kind of

set of sanctions that Western countries could throw at Russia, I wonder if that is a deterrent?

It's so damaging that it could deter action.

QUEST: Yes, but it could also call into question the whole SWIFT network. It could also question the neutrality of SWIFT. It could also create doubt

as to about the reliability of SWIFT.


QUEST: So, before you go down that road, you'd want to make sure that the bang was going to be worth the buck, to mix the metaphor, so to speak. And

that's where the danger of using SWIFT, because it is so integral. If I send money to you from New York to London, at some point, somebody will

want a SWIFT number.

That's why you have to be careful before you use SWIFT as a weapon.

GORANI: All right. What's the weather like in Dallas?

I see you're wearing a scarf.

QUEST: I'm wearing a scarf because it's windy up here on the roof. But actually, it's a warm day; overcast but it's pleasant. And I'm guessing

it's a lot warmer than where you are.

GORANI: Yes. Actually, it wasn't bad today, not bad. We got two rays of sunshine. So, yay.

QUEST: It's Russian, Hala. It's fashion, fashion.

GORANI: Of course. You are a fashion icon. Thanks so much, Richard Quest. See you top of the hour on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" from Dallas.

Now some news just into CNN. The president of Ukraine is expected to air concerns with President Biden over recent U.S. rhetoric on the crisis with

Russia. The two are expected to speak by phone anytime now.

Now here's what Ukraine is worried about. It is particularly concerned about language that war could be, quote, imminent, a word the White House

press secretary used. Now the U.S. is warning Belarus against letting Russia stage an attack on Ukraine from its territory.

The U.S. State Department is calling the buildup of Russian forces there, quote, "an affront to Belarus' sovereignty." A prominent Belarusian

opposition leader is also sounding alarm from exile. So, a lot going on in that part of the world. Our Fred Pleitgen wraps it up for us.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russia's army is increasingly encircling Ukraine. Vladimir Putin's troops now also

pouring into neighboring Belarus, allegedly for military exercises, all with the help of Putin's friend, Belarusian strong man, Alexander


Lukashenko falsely claiming the exercises near Ukraine's border are only a reaction to Ukrainian moves.

ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We were not the first ones to start paying attention to our southern border.

Ukrainians began to gather troops there. I can't understand why.

PLEITGEN: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has heard the lies all too many times. From her exile in Lithuania, she's been leading the opposition against

Lukashenko. And, speaking only to CNN, says the U.S. and its allies must act decisively.

TSIKHANOUSKAYA: What's going on, on the territorial barriers (ph) with the -- all these military drills, is very concerning. And Belarusians are

watching this very attentively. And we understand that regime now in very weak position. And maybe they could, like, use Belarusian territory for

Kremlin's aims.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): She had Lukashenko on the ropes in 2020; a housewife and mother, she took the reins after her own husband, the politician,

Sergei Tikhanovsky, was jailed by Lukashenko.

According to the U.S. and its allies, Tsikhanouskaya beat Lukashenko in the presidential election but he rigged the election.

What followed were peaceful protests against Lukashenko and then a brutal crackdown, that jailed or exiled most of the opposition, including


Lukashenko managed to stay in power, mostly thanks to Vladimir Putin, she says, effectively making him Putin's stooge and putting Belarus' army at

the Russian president's disposal.

TSIKHANOUSKAYA: We don't know what steps he can do to keep his power, not to look like loser in this situation. But he also understands that he's --

this over. And he's just prolonging all these political games and turmoil (ph) to Russia.

PLEITGEN: While Tsikhanouskaya continues to fight for change in Belarus, she remains devoted to her family, ultimately admitting she is sometimes

afraid, especially since her husband was recently sentenced to 18 years in jail, after a trial the U.S. and the E.U. called a sham.

TSIKHANOUSKAYA: I'm scared every day, scared for people in Belarus, scared for my own family. But you have no choice. You have to go forward, knowing

that we are a strong nation.

PLEITGEN: While Lukashenko has become an international pariah, essentially hijacking an E.U.-flagged plane to arrest an opposition blogger and

unleashing a migrant crisis on the E.U.'s doorstep this past fall. He does remain in business, not just thanks to Russia but also China.

Xi Jinping recently called for deeper economic ties, despite U.S. and E.U. sanctions.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): But Tsikhanouskaya believes allowing a massive Russian force in the country will further discredit Lukashenko.

TSIKHANOUSKAYA: This is invisible resistance, but it is going on every day. So, I'm sure that I will back to Belarus, the same as hundreds, thousands

of other Belarusians and our political prisoners.

PLEITGEN: And the U.S. clearly also sees the threat that Russia could use Belarus as a possible launching pad for an invasion of Ukraine. The State

Department's spokesman saying that Lukashenko would face, quote, "a swift and decisive response from the U.S." if that were to happen -- Fred

Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


GORANI: In the U.K. the waiting game continues. Downing Street has not yet received a copy of the report into alleged lockdown parties. British prime

minister Boris Johnson says it will be published, once it's out in full.


QUESTION: Are you delaying the Sue Gray report?

BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely not but you'll just have to -- I'm afraid you've got to let the independent inquiries go on.

QUESTION: When do you think it will be published?

JOHNSON: I wish I -- I can't really say any more than what I said yesterday about that.

QUESTION: Will you publish it in full?

JOHNSON: Of course.


GORANI: All right, he was on a visit in Cornwall, which actually doesn't explain the hard hat but that's what he was doing. Amid all of this, Mr.

Johnson is coming under yet more fire, this time over leaked emails about the chaotic exit from Afghanistan last August.

Mr. Johnson is dismissing claims that he lied about authorizing the evacuation of some animals before people.

With me now to get into all of this is Bianca Nobilo in London.

Talk about the timeline for this Sue Gray report. We were led to believe it was imminent.

I believe some predictions were expecting this to come out yesterday.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST (voice-over): Yes, Wednesday was the day that most journalists were focusing on this week. There is a chance, Hala, as you

know, sometimes in Westminster, political journalists can get overexcited and start making fairly confident predictions when there isn't necessarily

a huge amount of substantive evidence to suggest that.

Wednesday was considered the day likely this week, because today, Thursday, is Holocaust Memorial Day. Lots of MPs are attending commemoration

ceremonies; Friday can be an awkward day in the houses of parliament; a lot of MPs are back at their constituencies.

Not to rule that day out, though. So now next week is considered to be the most likely time. However, I have spoken to people who pushed back against

the idea that it's a delay at all. They said Sue Gray never said when the report would come out. That was speculation of MPs, Downing Street

responding to reports.

When it comes to speculation about why, if there is a delay, that might be, it ranges from anything of maybe Sue Gray is trying to make sure lawyers

have read parts of the report that could prejudice the investigation that The Met are undertaking.

It could be they're trying to protect some of the younger, more junior members of the Downing Street staff that might be implicated in the report.

Or as I said, perhaps she's just not ready to release it anyway.

GORANI: Right. But if this report reveals that there were parties while the entire country was in lockdown, does Boris Johnson keep his job?

NOBILO: Well, part of that question I will answer, which is whether or not the letter's going to the 1992 committee, which can precipitate a no

confidence vote. Speaking to Tory MPs all week, all concur, once that report is out, it will be so unlikely that they could avoid that threshold

being breached.

The way they explain that to me is the fact that, until now, a lot of MPs haven't had to pick sides. They've been hedging. So when angry, upset

constituents write to them, saying, I couldn't see my dying relative. I couldn't visit my grieving mother. I couldn't attend this funeral because

the prime minister's rules, while they're partying on Downing Street, MPs were able to say, let's wait until outcome of the Sue Gray report and then

I'll get back to you and I'll take a position.

They'll have nowhere to hide after the report's out. They will have to pick a side. Given those 359 Conservative MPs and we expect quite a few letters

to be in already, it seems almost impossible that that threshold, according to MPs I speak to, won't be breached once the report is out.

Then whether or not he survives the confidence vote that would ensue, if it does, is another question. Definitely there's a very concerted mission at

the moment by his supporters, which I hear the number at around 100 in terms of active supporters, to shore up support for the prime minister,

trying to say this is all very disproportionate and not commensurate to the seriousness of an offense to get rid of a prime minister.

But Hala, there's definitely no certainty whether or not he would survive that confidence vote. A lot of it depends whether or not supporters

coalesced around a potential successor at that point.

GORANI: Right.


GORANI: But I guess strategically, why would the Conservatives want to get rid of their prime minister now?

The next election is two years away. A lot happens in two years.

Why create this upheaval now rather than later down the line?

NOBILO: That is a question that some Boris Johnson supporters have been asking. Some of them even indicating, as a form of deterrence, that a

general election might be needed if they were to depose Boris Johnson because that's only fair and that's what the public will demand.

There are local elections. You correctly point out the next general election in the U.K. is not slated until 2024. But there are local

elections in May, where the Conservative Party could potentially face a bruising defeat across councils and other forms of election, which

obviously they want to avoid.

There's also a line of thinking that because the party is doing so badly in the polls and because damage is being done to the brand, they might want to

be seen to be getting out ahead and making a statement, that this type of behavior, that this sort of premiership isn't tolerated by MPs,

specifically those in the red wall, which Boris Johnson managed to help them win in 2019.

But there's a huge amount of discontent brewing there. They're just fed up with the way the prime minister is handling policy and the Downing Street

party saga.

GORANI: All right, thank you. I'm sure we'll speak again when the Sue Gray report finally comes out and we have an opportunity to read it in full.

Still to come tonight, parents in India say they've had enough. It is time for schools, they say, to reopen. How the government responded to their

complaints in just a moment.




GORANI: Well, it's been more than 600 days since many schools in Delhi were open. The pandemic and pollution have combined to keep children home. Feel

so sorry for the parents. Parents say it's just time to get back to normal. CNN's Vedika Sud is in New Delhi.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Delhi government announced easing of COVID-19 restrictions implemented earlier this month. But there has been no

word on the reopening of schools.

A decision likely from a meeting held earlier today. A delegation of parents met with the deputy chief minister of Delhi on Wednesday and handed

over a petition signed by 1,600 parents. The petition was also sent to the education ministry of India and other stakeholders. They have requested for

schools to resume classroom sessions.


SUD: CNN spoke to a petitioner who's also a parent and here are her concerns.


DHARINI MATHUR, INDIAN PARENT: 650 days plus of schools being closed for primary schoolchildren in India. Older kids have had it only marginally

better. As parents we believe our children lack a voice, they lack a vote.

And unlike spy (ph) lobbies or restaurant lobbies, pushing for reopening, someone needs to speak up on behalf of our children.


SUD: Educators have called implications of long periods away from school catastrophic and say they lead to mental health issues and anxiety among

students. Teens between ages 15 and 18 are currently being vaccinated. On Wednesday, Delhi reported close to 7,500 new daily cases of COVID-19, much

lower than earlier this month, when the region reported over 20,000 fresh infections. Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.


GORANI: Today's international Holocaust Remembrance Day remembers millions of Jews, 6 million Jews, killed during World War II. And this month a

school board in U.S. state of Tennessee has voted to remove a novel about the Holocaust from its curriculum, saying the book conflicts with its

values because of, quote, "rough, objectionable language and a drawing of a nude woman."

"Maus" is Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. It tells the story of the author's family, struggling to survive the barbarism and

horrors of the Holocaust. It depicts Jewish people as mice as Nazis as cats. Spiegelman says the school board's decision has, quote, "the breath

of autocracy and fascism about it," and warns it's a harbinger of things to come.

Still to come tonight, former Pope Benedict has yet to make a full statement after a report criticized his handling of sexual abuse cases when

he was archbishop of Munich. We go live to Rome for the latest.




GORANI: Those some people out there are calling on Benedict XVI to give up his title as pope emeritus, an independent investigation accuses the former

pope of mishandling at least four cases of sexual abuse by priests when he was the archbishop of Munich.


GORANI: Reporters today asked the current archbishop if any action should be taken against the retired pope.

Cardinal Marx replied that Benedict should, quote, "get the chance to make a statement." Delia Gallagher is joining me now, live.

Will the former pope make a statement?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, Hala. He has said on Monday he will be issuing a statement. He asked for understanding because

it's a 1,900-page report and he's 94 years old.

But he certainly intends to make a statement about his role in this. Cardinal Marx didn't respond today in detail to the allegations that he

mishandled two cases of sexual abuse. He went very general. Here's a little of what he had to say about his response to the report.


CARDINAL REINHARD MARX, ARCHBISHOP OF MUNICH (through translator): After having read the report, I am repeatedly shocked about the harm and

suffering of the affected persons and also what the perpetrators have done and how those responsible have behaved.

What is clear here in the expert report is that there is a dark side and this will continue to be visible in the future history of our church.


GALLAGHER: Hala, Cardinal Marx said he doesn't intend to resign for the moment. Last year, he offered his resignation to Pope Francis on the heels

of some other sexual abuse scandals in Germany as a kind of symbolic gesture. And the pope declined to accept it. He said for the moment he will

stay in his role as long as he can be helpful. Hala.

GORANI: Delia, thanks very much, live in Rome.

We finish with this, a team of Australian scientists have discovered something in the sky that they cannot explain, an object that sends out a

blast of radio waves every 18 minutes, much slower than typical pulsars that emit waves every couple of seconds.

The object is extremely bright and has a very strong magnetic field, leading the scientists to believe it may be some kind of collapsed star.

That sounds sad almost.

Stars collapse?

I didn't even know that.

Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. A lot more ahead after a quick break. The latest on Russia, Ukraine, tension with NATO countries and

the West and the latest business news headlines. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming to you live from Dallas.