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Squeezed between Russia and the West; Uganda's Anti-Gay Law; How Evangelicals Influenced Uganda; Imagine a World

Aired February 24, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

So what is next for Ukraine? Will Putin send in the tanks? Will the country split apart? Or can this beleaguered nation pull back from the brink where it lies squeezed between Russia and the West?

A lot of questions but not so many answers. Ukraine's ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, is still AWOL, though, in an interview this weekend, somewhere in the Ukraine, he claimed to still be president with Kiev, he said, taken over by bandits.

Meantime those bandits, aka the opposition, are planning to name Ukraine's new government on Tuesday and for now they've issued an arrest warrant for Yanukovych after charging him with the mass killing of 88 people. Both protesters and police all gunned down in street battles last week.

The United States and Europe are warning Russia to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and they're frantically trying to come up with an aid package to tide the nation over because Yanukovych leaves Ukraine in a desperate hole.

Take a look at this, troves of files fished out of a lake by divers documenting the fugitive president's lavish spending. Now the interim finance minister says Ukraine will need $35 billion in foreign aid by the end of next year.

I'm joined now from New York by Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, who today is asking many of the same critical questions.

Ambassador, welcome; thank you very much for joining me. And may I start by asking you do you even know who you are working for right now?

Do you accept that a new government will be presented tomorrow and it is one that you will be able to work for?

YURIY SERGEYEV, UKRAINE AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Thank you for inviting me. I used to work and I keep working for the state and for the people, not for the leaders and the governments. We are waiting for the new government to be appointed tomorrow.

AMANPOUR: And how do you think that that is going to go? Is that going to be accepted? Do you believe that Ukraine is on a political path that will be constructed? Or are we still caught in a lot of instability?

SERGEYEV: I'm absolutely sure that we have a lot of wisdom to keep the path for recovering from all these clashes, understanding well the roots of the social protests and to keep Ukraine going in the direction which could satisfy all the citizens of Ukraine from the west to the east, from the north to the south.

AMANPOUR: So then, let me ask you, do you feel like many have voiced fears that there could be some kind of a split? Some people have posited the notion of not just a civil war, but that Russia might intervene in any which way, whether it's militarily or with influence, to try to prise the Russian-dominated eastern part of Ukraine away.

Do you think that's a possibility?

SERGEYEV: Thank you for that question because really, at these days, Russian propaganda, which is covering seriously Ukrainian information sphere, keep telling that we are to displayed it, that the process was launched. And luckily we have good signs. Let me quote you today's briefing of the governor of the biggest region of the East, Donetsk region, Andriy Schyschatskyi.

He stated he following, I quote, "Today, fortunately, we have stayed at least one legitimate authority in Ukraine, where Verkhovna Rada -- the southern parliament -- and today the only way to get away from this race is to enact legislation in the parliament. It is important to preserve the integrity and independence."

What he said reflects the real story, people, they don't want any civil war. People want to be united because people who were in the streets, they faced the same problem in their life.

AMANPOUR: So that seems to be good news that you're feeling fairly confident of that, and of course President Putin has spoken with Angela Merkel and obviously the U.S. has been speaking to the foreign minister there and warning them to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity.

But on the issue of where Ukraine sits as I said squeezed between Russia and the West, all of this started because President Yanukovych, former President Yanukovych, at the last minute, did not sign that association agreement with the E.U.

Can Ukraine be someone or a country that has great relations with the West and great relations with Russia as well?

SERGEYEV: Well, sure. The main trend, the main direction is to be associated with the European Union. There is -- this is exactly what we had in our legislation formally. This is what the previous government and the president tried to pursue the population. And they betrayed.

Now it is not logical to divide Ukraine either to Europe or to Russia or with Russia. So this is not alternative. We are for sure with Europe but we should have a good neighborhood relations with Russia as well.

AMANPOUR: So what about this massive hole that Ukraine is in, the new interim finance minister says that your country's going to need some of that $35 billion of aid in the next year and a half, by the end of 2015.

Who's going to give that to you, do you think? And at what cost? What is Ukraine going to have to do in terms of structural and political reforms?

SERGEYEV: First of all, we had to learn exactly what happened last year the government, previous government, kept saying that we are in the raise that economy is getting good stance. But now we discovered that it is not -- it was not true.

What should we do now? To retain confidence from our foreign and domestic investors, to attract the recovery of economy in general? Then we are to conduct the negotiations which were stopped with the IMF. We are to conduct the negotiations with European Union to get support from there.

We had from both IMF and from European Union the recent statements about their readiness to help Ukraine. But not in the way to give just money, but money could -- which could work to help Ukraine to make necessary forum and to have a stable development in all our spheres.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador, I just want to refer back to a few questions before I asked you, and you seemed to answer with an implicit criticism of the Yanukovych government, that they had done things which simply were not acceptable.

Are you surprised by the level of corruption that has now been uncovered, personal corruption?

And are you surprised by the violence and the order that was given by somebody to fire on those protesters using live bullets?

SERGEYEV: Yes. The recent discoveries of Ukrainian journalists and just show by your channel, so shocked many, many because the demonstrative stance of President Yanukovych was, well, if you're a Christian, who was visiting churches, praying for the people, but as we know now that he prayed for them, but did absolutely different. He thought about only his wealth. He collected luxury cars in amount which comparable to Brezhnev. So even his own party was shocked with that and still there is a big faction, more than 100 people of his former party, that made a statement which so strong that explains the real situation that even his surroundings is surprise and started to reshuffle themselves and to separate themselves from what he did. Let me just quote a few things.

I quote the statement of detection of the Party of Regions, it's from their official website. "Ukraine was betrayed and people were forced to rebel. And all responsibility is in the hands of Viktor Yanukovych and his close circle."

The members of the -- the members of the -- of the Party of Regions strongly condemn the criminal orders which led to human losses, political and economic crises and put Ukraine on the brink of collapse leading to the threat of separation.

This is what appears yesterday on the official site of the party.

AMANPOUR: Well, it's very strong stuff, Ambassador, and clearly many people condemning Yanukovych for his responsibility in this regard.

Just briefly and finally, do you feel that the new government will be able to lead Ukraine forward? We've seen reformist governments in the past collapse into squabbling sort of, you know, sort of, you know, they couldn't -- they couldn't move their way beyond their own political arguments.

SERGEYEV: We should. There should, as I stated yesterday at the big Ukrainian manifestation here in New York, this is exactly the time when Ukraine is fighting for its real independence. And to keep this independence, we should build this sustainable situation both in social, political, financial and economic. We need professionals. And we need to be united.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Sergeyev, thank you so much indeed for joining me. Fascinating.


AMANPOUR: And so while Ukraine's president, as we said, has gone missing, Uganda's president is still on the job and wielding his pen to sign off on one of the world's toughest anti-gay laws.

But laws aren't just made of ink and paper. They are flesh and blood with real human consequences for people like Kasha Nabagesera, one of the leading LGBT activists in Uganda and her partner. And this is Akram Kalungi, a Muslim shown here with his partner.

You can see more photos of Uganda from this series at our website,

How will Uganda's harsh new law change their lives? When we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Uganda's president threatened to do it, and today he did it, criminalizing homosexuality, thumbing his nose at international pressure, Yoweri Museveni invited the international press to witness him sign one of the world's toughest anti-gay laws while claiming that Uganda is standing up to Western imperialism.


YOWERI MUSEVENI, UGANDAN PRESIDENT: These are now an attempt at social imperialism, to impose social values of one group on our society.


AMANPOUR: Rhetoric aside, this law is brutal, drawing sentences of 14 years to life in prison.

The White House today called the law abhorrent and said Museveni took Uganda a step backward.

As the law was being drafted, I asked President Museveni whether it would lead to the abuse of gays in Uganda.


MUSEVENI: What does the world not agree with us about? Because I have told you, there is no discrimination. There is no persecution. Certainly there is no killing.


AMANPOUR: As you can see, this drafting has taken a long, long time. But now the law is on the books.

Can gay Ugandans and their families now expect what's happening in Nigeria, where terrifying tales of torture and abuse have followed their president's signing an anti-gay law last month?

I just reached out to Pepe Julian Onziema, a prominent gay activist in Uganda, who, like many in his community, are staying behind closed doors today.


AMANPOUR: Pepe Julian Onziema, thank you very much for joining me from Uganda. You've seen what's happened in Nigeria since President Goodluck Jonathan has signed that law in there, criminalizing homosexuality.

There have been all sorts of lynchings and torture and abuse.

What are people saying to you in your own community about what they fear?

PEPE JULIAN ONZIEMA, GAY RIGHTS ACTIVIST: They fear that as well because we've had cases of -- call it attempted mob justice because people have intervened before the actual mob justice had had been. So people are afraid of losing their lives. Those who are felt that it's going to happen to them within their neighborhoods have left the country. They've fled to the nearest border where they feel much safer.

Some of them have walked away or moved away from public life. Even with us, people call you to tell you don't call me again. I'm not going to be part of -- part of this advocacy anymore because I do not want to get in trouble.

So people are really afraid about losing their lives, losing their families, those who are especially who are in the closet, people have lost jobs and their livelihoods have basically changed. And those are the same people who are committing suicide.

Like people attempted suicide because they are like, I'm not going to live to see this country kill me. So I'd rather take my life.

AMANPOUR: And what about you, speaking publicly right now? I mean, you theoretically could be prosecuted for advocating homosexuality, for any kind of criminal offense under this new law.

ONZIEMA: Absolutely. But I'm not afraid, because I'm not doing something wrong. Speaking out is my right that is guaranteed in the constitution, and this law is not going to take away the person that I am and it's not going to take away my voice.

And even if I'm arrested for being on a call right now with you, I will serve. But my conscience will be very clear.

AMANPOUR: Pepe Julian Onziema, thank you very much for joining me.

ONZIEMA: All right. Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And here's a troubling thought. While President Museveni accuses the United States of trying to import social imperialism into Uganda by defending homosexual rights, who do you think is behind some of the anti-gay hysteria in Uganda right now? A group of evangelical Christians from that very same hotbed of social imperialism, the United States of America.

My next guest, Roger Ross Williams, belonged to the organization called International House of Prayer in Missouri, whose missionary zeal fell on gays in Uganda. He decided to make a film about what he learned, and he called it, "God Loves Uganda."

It ended up being a terrifying look at incitement to hatred.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to fight sodomy in Uganda. They say they are ready to fight. Those who are ready to kill those who are being homosexual, stand up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world has got its eyes on Uganda because of what has happened to David Kato. David's death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals.


AMANPOUR: So he was referring to a prominent gay activist who was killed a long while ago there in Uganda. That was powerful stuff and the director, Roger Ross Williams, joins me from Albany right now.

Welcome. Thank you for coming on the program today.

You know, your film was done as this law was being drafted.

What do you think is going to happen now in Uganda?

ROGER ROSS WILLIAMS, DIRECTOR, "GOD LOVES UGANDA": I'm having trouble hearing you.

AMANPOUR: OK. Let me just put it -- let me put it very bluntly.

Tell me how you came to make this film and how you discovered what you have done.

WILLIAMS: Yes, yes. Well, I was -- my last film took place in Zimbabwe and I noticed a hold of sort of type of evangelical Christianity on the continent, sub-Saharan Africa. So I started reading about Uganda and what was going on there. And I just did a research trip, went there; met David Kato, who's the activist in my film, who was brutally murdered.

And he said the story that hadn't been told is the story of the sort of damage that fundamentalists, evangelicals from America, were doing in his country. So that sort of started me on my journey.

AMANPOUR: What did you know about the International House of Prayer? How did you see that sort of build there?

WILLIAMS: The build, you know, well, I started on -- I, when I heard about Lou Engel (ph) from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City going to Uganda, you know, sort of when all these sort of American evangelicals were running away from Uganda for PR reasons, he went to Uganda and threw a huge prayer rally called The Call, which that led me to Kansas City.

And I sort of started following members from the International House of Prayer and I followed a group of them to Uganda.

AMANPOUR: And I know it's all in your film, but for those of us who -- or people who haven't seen the whole film, describe how it worked. How did they sort of gin up this anti-gay hysteria? How did an evangelical from the United States get to spend hours talking to parliament in Uganda?

WILLIAMS: Well, someone who is very extreme, like Scott Lively, who is an extremist in America, but in -- when he goes to Uganda, he gets taken seriously because of what he represents.

He's an American evangelical, and what America represents in a place like Uganda, represents power and wealth.

And so he goes to Uganda and he can command the president, he can command the parliament for five hours. He did a three-day conference, where he told everyone about the threat of homosexuality, that they were there to recruit their children.

And that's what really sort of started this whole bill on its -- on where it is now, today, this sort of tragic day.

And Scott Lively's being sued in American federal court by Ugandan activists for what he's done there. A judge just ruled that he has to stand trial.

AMANPOUR: Now in your film, you also talk to very sympathetic Ugandans, members of the Anglican Church there, who try to tell their flock that, no, this anti-gay hysteria is not Christian.

Do they have any chance of getting that message across?

WILLIAMS: I heard you have a -- were you talking about Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo?


WILLIAMS: Yes. You know, Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo is an Anglican bishop who sort of went against the grain in Uganda. You have a bunch of pastors there who call themselves anti-gay activists, who show, like Martin Ssempa, who shows gay porn in church, who just sort of firing up people to -- as gay people have become this sort of scapegoat in Uganda, to distract from what the real problems are going on there, which is corruption.

So you have Christopher Ssenyonjo, who is the only -- one of the only faith leaders who stood up and said, you know, this is human sexuality. And for that, he lost his -- he actually lost his right in the Anglican Church. He was excommunicated. He lost his pension. And here's a really noble man and he won the Clinton award last year. But this is an amazing man who is -- was on the front page of a newspaper called the "Rolling Stone" with David Kato, the murdered activist, with his picture next to David Kato's, with the title, "Hanging Killed Him."

AMANPOUR: You know what, your film is incredibly interesting and amazingly timely. Roger Ross Williams, thank you so much indeed for joining me today.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And after a break, imagine if beautiful music not only made your life richer, it was instrumental in saving your life. The musical bridge between two remarkable women who not only survived the Nazi horrors but lived to inspire the world, the sound and the power of music when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And a final note tonight:


AMANPOUR (voice-over): That's well-known and well-loved music and the hills may indeed be alive with the sound of that music. But imagine a world where music can bring life even to the darkest valleys.


AMANPOUR: Maria von Trapp, the last survivor of the seven brothers and sisters portrayed in the much-loved 1965 film died last week at the age of 99. She shared her name with her stepmother, the governess who was portrayed by Julie Andrews, who married Captain von Trapp and fled Austria with the rest of the family after the Nazi occupation. As the Trapp Family Singers, they then toured and entertained the world.

It was that same love of music that saved the life of Alice Hurt Summer, the world's oldest pianist and oldest known Holocaust survivor. Like Maria, she was born into a musical family. And being Jewish, she became a target of the Nazis.

In 1943, she, her husband and her son, were sent to a concentration camp. Because of her musical talent, Alice was placed in the camp orchestra, performing for inmates and guards alike. Somehow she kept her little boy with her, even though her husband was shipped off to Auschwitz. Later, he died in Dachau.

After liberation by the Allies, Alice eventually settled here in Britain, still playing the piano nearly every day until her death this weekend at the age of 110. And also like Maria von Trapp, her story is now a film, "The Lady in Number Six," a documentary that's nominated for one of this year's Academy Awards.

"I was born Jewish," she once said, "but my religion was Beethoven."

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.