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EXCLUSIVE: UN issues stark warning against arming Ukraine protesters

April 15th, 2014
03:57 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“Whoever arms protesters can be held accountable for potential tragic consequences.”

That is the stark warning issued on Ukraine by the U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“What is at the moment, I would say, most important, it is to prevent arming of protesters and transforming them into paramilitary troops.”


U.N. releases report on Ukraine

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic.

Simonovic is the author of a new U.N. report, out Tuesday, that details the protests and incursions that lead up to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The report comes as worried residents and onlookers around the world shudder at the similarities between Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month and what is happening today in eastern Ukraine.

In Crimea, Russia said its actions were based partly on the basis of protecting ethnic Russians.

“We identify some cases of people being harassed because of being close to former political establishment and President Yanukovych – a number of them being Russian-speaking or Russian themselves.”

“But,” Simonovic said, “they were neither widespread nor systemic.”

Far from being fair, the Crimea referendum on joining Russia was peppered with “many reports of vote rigging,” the report says.

“The activities of the civil society were impeded,” Simonovic said. “There were some arrests, some enforced disappearances, cases of torture. We still have some missing persons.”

And far from being a spontaneous outpouring of fear and loathing for Ukraine, the report says that Russian propaganda played a large role in the move.

The cases of harassment of Russians was “overblown by propaganda,” Simonovic said.

The “propaganda was used to spread a feeling of fear and insecurity. It had significant impact in Crimea and we are witnessing something similar in eastern Ukraine.”

For example, he said, the propaganda involved cutting off television channels from Ukraine.

“It was an attempt to have a monopoly of information.”

“There were some unfounded rumors that were spread about trains coming filled with extremists, well-armed, and wishing to persecute Russian population. That has contributed to create the climate of fear and insecurity.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves calls for ‘physical presence on the ground’ in region as deterrence against Russia

April 15th, 2014
11:15 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves called for a "physical presence on the ground" in the region as a deterrence against Russia.

Estonia, a former Soviet republic that shares a border with Russia, is now a member of NATO. Its leadership has been outspoken expressing concern about Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

"We need more exercises," President Ilves said. "We think that the decision to increase the number of planes providing air policing in the region is a very good one."

"But given the uncertainty that we see to the east and the kinds of actions that we’ve seen in the east, we need to make sure that others understand that this is not something to play around with."


Estonia's plea on Russia

CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves about Russia and Ukraine.

Amanpour asked President Ilves what he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin's "goal" was.

"We are in new territory right now. The rules have been broken."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Russia • Ukraine

The courage to imagine the other

April 15th, 2014
10:45 AM ET

By Lucky Gold and Christiane Amanpour, CNN

The showdown between Russia and Ukraine demonstrates how hard it is understand the story of “the other.”

The struggle over narratives dates back at least to the time of the Passover – which began on Monday – when Pharoah kept the people of Moses in bondage.

Now imagine a world where imagining the other could mean deliverance for warring sides such as Israelis and Palestinians.

In what may be a first, Mohammed Dajani, a Palestinian professor at al-Quds University in east Jerusalem, recently took 27 of his students to Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp in Poland.

The idea was to promote greater understanding between peoples.

And yet Professor Dajani was branded by many of his own people as a traitor.


Would a referendum vote end Ukraine crisis?

April 14th, 2014
05:49 PM ET

In Russia's parliament there was just one lone voice who stood against the annexation of Crimea. Now lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour a national referendum in Ukraine is the answer to the crisis.

Click above to watch the full interview.

Filed under:  Foreign Policy • Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Ukraine: We need world's help

April 14th, 2014
05:22 PM ET

Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, tells CNN's Christiane Amanpour that an anti-terrorism operation is underway in eastern Ukraine, and says it's "very difficult" to predict Russian president Vladimir Putin's behavior, because "we are operating within the frames of human logic... but he performs in a different way".

Click above to watch the interview in full.

Filed under:  Foreign Policy • Russia • Ukraine

Former CIA agent shines a light on a dark chapter

April 10th, 2014
03:28 PM ET

By Fred Pleitgen and Ken Olshansky, CNN

The great Roman philosopher and politician Cicero once said, "Laws become silent in times of war."

Many say the United States broke its own norms against prisoner abuse in its war on terror – undermining the U.S.'s role as a champion of human rights and the rule of law.

CIA operatives called things like waterboarding "enhanced interrogation methods." But the only adequate word to describe them is "torture."

A pending report on a senate investigation into the brutal interrogations has become a political football, with critics calling it "a partisan sham."

But Dianne Feinstein, the head of the senate intelligence committee, says it's vital to show that the U.S. is a country that makes mistakes, but also one that has the courage to deal with them openly.

In an interview with CNN’s Fred Pleitgen on Thursday, former CIA agent Glenn Carle – who worked at so-called ‘black sites’ – describes the moment the Agency became “caught-up in enhanced interrogation.”

Click above to see why he says there is “no debate” over whether the method works – it doesn’t.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Torture • U.S. Politics

In Egypt, case of trial by error

April 10th, 2014
02:58 PM ET

Russian Senator: West always thinks the worst of us

April 10th, 2014
02:49 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As pro-Russian unrest flares in eastern Ukraine, a Russian senator took his country’s case to the international stage on CNN Thursday, saying Moscow has a “very different” vision of the situation than the West.

“Of course somebody in Western countries maybe prefer to see just bad grace from Russia,” Andrey Klimov, member of the Russian Federation Council, said. “But the situation is quite different.”

“We are thinking only about peaceful exit from this situation, which now happened unfortunately in Ukraine.”


Russia defends intervention

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, speaks with Russian Senator Andrey Klimov.

Pro-Russian protesters are occupying a government building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, demanding more independence from Kiev.

Some are concerned that after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the country may intervene in eastern Ukraine as well.

“Well, first of all, we are looking at this country as our neighbor country,” Klimov said.

In a telling exchange, though, Klimov emphasized the fact that Ukraine – a former Soviet republic – does not have a long history as a sovereign country.


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Russia • Ukraine

Amanpour asks Venezuelan President Maduro about mediation

April 10th, 2014
11:49 AM ET

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has agreed to talks with the opposition – with the Vatican as mediator, Reuters reports.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour asked President Maduro about this very idea - of having the pope as mediator - when she interviewed him exclusively last month in Caracas.

Click above to watch.

And you can see the rest of Amanpour's interview with President Maduro here.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Venezuela

Meet India's most devoted voter, age 97

April 10th, 2014
07:22 AM ET

As Indians go to the polls, CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the story of the 97-year-old who has voted in every Indian election.

Click above to watch.

Filed under:  Imagine a World • India • Latest Episode
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