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Ukraine's Deposed President on the Run; Sinaloa Druglord Captured; NBA Player Jason Collins Makes History; All Eyes On Putin In Most Of Ukraine Crisis

Aired February 24, 2014 - 08:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's in nobody's interest to see violence return.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning an international manhunt for Ukraine's deposed president he's now on the run as the tide turns the U.S. warning Russia to stay out of the country. This morning we'll show you inside the president's over-the-top palace.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New details on the capture of public enemy number one, Mexican drug lord, El Chapo, the U.S. playing a larger role than previously thought and we learn more about his life on the run even escaping through a door beneath the bathtub.

PEREIRA: Breaking overnight, a breakthrough in professional sports, Jason Collins making history, the first openly gay athlete to play in a major professional sport. The reaction this morning.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY once again. It's Monday, February 24th, 8 o'clock in the east. We begin this hour with breaking news in the Ukraine.

Ousted president Viktor Yanukovych now a wanted man for mass murder, but his whereabouts remain a mystery. Meantime Ukraine trying to restore calm after those deadly anti-government protests. An interim president has been appointed and the country is set to vote for their new president in May elections.

Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Kiev following all the latest developments.

What's it like today finally, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Kate, so much happening here right now. We've all been waiting to see what Russia, the big overarching neighbor to Ukraine's east, would do. Now they've lost their main ally here, ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, last reported leaving a private residence in Balaclava in Southern Ukraine in Crimea, whereabouts unknown, now a hunted man.

We heard from the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, who said he doubts the legitimacy of the government here, he says the Russians potentially aren't that safe here, but interestingly we haven't heard from Vladimir Putin, the main man in Russia, really, who calls all the shots.

Many wondering what he's going to say. The U.S. has warned Russia not to get involved. But behind all that, Ukrainians are digesting the remarkable scenes of wealth at the residence of the former president, Viktor Yanukovych.


WALSH (voice-over): The ousted president is wanted for mass murder and on the run in the south, probably Crimea, seen leaving a private house there.

Ukraine is still on the streets watching a new government form, mourning the dead and enjoying a strange period when the people are the only real power around. Moscow has been pretty silent about losing its main ally here, the ex-president and the United States hopes it stays out militarily.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be a grave mistake.

WALSH (voice-over): Ukrainians still digesting the rapid collapse of their past and the immense wealth of Yanukovych here at his personal retreat. A day out can see what money can buy if you really don't have anything sensible to do with it.

Soon it may be Yanukovych, former owner, who is behind the bars. He didn't even drive these '50s Bentley, whatever this is, and an American army jeep. In the end he fled, of course, in the presidential helicopter. And not in this, a massive riverboat for partying.

Outside, fascination at the life he led and they could only look in on while their country stagnated. Inside, gifts from guests.

When months ahead, when Ukraine comes to terms with a troubled economy and asks where did all the money go, here is part of the answer. The president's own vodka, even the presidential waste gets gilt.

We later got inside his house, a bizarre, enormous empty mansion. It was gaudy but vacant. Everything laid on, even a tunnel linking the houses across miles and miles of grounds. The luxury literally never seemed to end.

In his bedroom, one bell for sex, one for alcohol. It was presumably a joke, but how he lived to the people whose money this was isn't.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WALSH: Kate, what was remarkable there really was just seeing how little signs of life there really were. All these riches but no one there, it seemed, in the past, even enjoying it much and these images are really in the minds of people behind me.

The square is a scene of mourning, flowers on the ground here as the government tries to explain to Ukrainians the mess they are in. They are saying they are bankrupt. The money is missing. They say they need $35 billion this year and next to keep the country afloat, some of it potentially from America.

But behind all that the ongoing drama of the manhunt to find the man who was simply five days ago the president, now a fugitive in southern Ukraine.

Back to you, Chris.

CUOMO: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you.

In other news one of the world's top drug kingpins behind bars. Some controversy brewing, though, because the arrest was made in Mexico but the U.S. Is fighting to have Joaquin Guzman, known as "El Chapo" or Shorty, face justice here in the U.S.

This morning we're learning new details about the legendary criminal who spent 13 years on the run after breaking out of prison. And on the key U.S. wiretap that led to his arrest. CNN's Ted Rowlands is in Chicago with more -- Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Thousands of families here in the U.S. and in Mexico have had their lives ruined by this man and the Sinaloa drug cartel. This morning he is finally facing justice.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): After alluding capture for more than a dozen years, how did authorities nab Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the world's most ruthless drug lord?

Focusing on five wiretaps, the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Mexican officials tracked Guzman down to this hotel in Mazatlan, Mexico. Also arrested, Carlos Hoo Ramirez, Guzman's alleged communication conduit, who authorities say was carrying multiple cell phones.

In the end, it was a single wiretap linking authorities directly to where Guzman was staying, room 401. Federal prosecutors want him extradited to face trial in the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do think, though, the biggest problem in our convincing Mexican authorities to send him back to the United States is that he's a Mexican national. Most of his killings have taken place on Mexican soil and certainly a lot of Mexican families would like to see him tried and incarcerated in Mexico.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Guzman is known for his evasiveness. Just last week police raided one of his compounds while Guzman was still inside. The drug lord fled through a secret door beneath a bathtub, disappearing in a network of tunnels connecting him to his other six homes nearby.

Dubbed public enemy number one by Chicago's Crime Commission, a title once held by Al Capone, indictments have been filed in four states against Guzman and his lieutenants. The U.S. attorney general says the drug kingpin contributed to the death and destruction of millions of lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He escaped from a prison in 2001. There is corruption that country. And I would ask that the Mexicans consider extraditing him to the United States.


ROWLANDS: And federal prosecutors, including prosecutors here in Chicago would love to have a crack at Guzman. It's unclear whether or not that will happen.

One thing to consider, Kate, Mexico does not have the death penalty and they don't extradite to countries that are planning to enforce the death penalty so that could be a factor in this decision making process.

BOLDUAN: All right, Ted, thanks very much for that.

So 12 minutes of playing time and a permanent place in history. Last night in Los Angeles Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete ever to play a major professional team sport in the U.S., starting off his new 10- day contract with the Brooklyn Nets, Collins managed two rebounds against the Lakers.

Let's go live to Los Angeles, we're bringing in Stephanie Elam for much more on this story.

You were there. History in the making.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is true, Kate. When you sit in the room with Jason Collins you can't miss him. He's seven feet tall. He may have made his biggest impact on the court yesterday.


ELAM (voice-over): As he took the court early in the second quarter, Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete to play professional sports in the United States. Collins signed a 10 day deal with the Brooklyn Nets before the game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's amazing that the Nets was willing to open up and allow him to come out and still showcase his talent even though his sexual orientation may be different than most.

ELAM (voice-over): Collins was a free agent when he made the announcement. Many wondered if a team would pick him up. JASON COLLINS, NBA PLAYER: I always try to stay positive, and try to control what I can control, and it's my training. So I always try to focus on that, focus on being positive and staying ready. That's part of being professional.

ELAM (voice-over): Now that the opportunity is here, Collins says his head is in the game.

COLLINS: It's about focusing on the task at hand and not thinking about history or anything like that along those lines.

ELAM: Nets coach Jason Kidd said there's a familiarity with Jason Collins. They played together. Also says he's a professional. He knows this game. At the end of the day that's what the Nets want to do, they want to win games.

ELAM (voice-over): As Collins is making history on the court, Michael Sam is doing the same on field. At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis the Missouri defensive end said he wants his athleticism to speak for itself.

MICHAEL SAM, NFL PLAYER: It is what is it and I just wish you guys will see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.

ELAM (voice-over): Collins agrees and says life is much better now.

COLLINS: I don't have to hide who I am. I can just be my normal self. The past 10 months has been incredible.


ELAM: And Collins seemed very relaxed. He says that it felt good out there playing. He said it felt good. He just really needs to work on learning the plays that the Nets have.

One other note there. You saw that he played under the number 46. Moving forward he'll be playing under number 98. That is a reference to 1998. That's the year that Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming. He was murdered in a hate crime, this gay student was, and it's something that Jason Collins says needs to be remembered -- Chris.

CUOMO: That's an important point. Stephanie, thank you for bringing that up.

Now I wonder when we're talking about him coming out, you think it matters the stature of the athlete who comes out as gay in terms of sending the message or you think it doesn't matter?

PEREIRA: You mean like how --

CUOMO: Yes, does it matter more? Will it matter more? I like Jason Collins, you know, I'm happy for him.

PEREIRA: It's a bold move no matter what. CUOMO: Right. But so do you think that if it's a big star would it matter more, would it mean more?

BOLDUAN: I don't think so. I think a first is a first.

PEREIRA: Yes. I agree.

CUOMO: Because it's interesting with Jason Collins is one guy in terms of his skill level. This guy Michael Sam could be a big star in the league. I wonder if it makes a difference.

PEREIRA: Time will tell, I guess.

CUOMO: Yes, I guess. I guess.

You know what time will also tell unfortunately, horrible segue to have to make, this nice weather you're seeing here in the Northeast will change.

Why? The calendar says winter and it seems the weather will prove it to us. Another round of bitter cold in some parts of the country, how cold will it get? It's a matter of science so for that we have to go to the meteorologist known as Indra Petersons.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I can't stop laughing at this one. Everyone someone tosses me today, we're all scowling because we know what news I have to deliver. And it is not good news and we're starting off our work week. It's a Monday, guys. And we know it's already colder and it's only going to get even colder.

So that's the problem here. Let's talk about yesterday's temperatures. Let's just reminisce for a second. It felt good. New York was 64. Almost in the 70s into the South. And there we go. This is what we're looking for today. Still not so bad in the Northeast, but notice 30s instead of 50s really in the Upper Midwest, that's where temperatures are starting to be 10, 15 degrees below normal.

Let's look at it a different way. Here are the temperatures whose highs are below freezing or at the freezing mark today. Watch by tomorrow that really starts to seeping further south, even towards (INAUDIBLE) and Indianapolis. And then, Wednesday, we all feel that. I mean, that cold air goes all the way to the northeast and even down into the southeast. Nashville your high on Wednesday below freezing at 31 degrees.

I think that paints the picture right there. And it's not the only thing. We're talking about some snow Tuesday night and through Wednesday New York City. Not a lot, maybe about an inch and a half. Same thing for Boston there. If you're in the southeast, of course, it's a little bit warmer even though you're cooling off, still warmer than freezing, right? So, we're talking about some rain, maybe about one to two inches. No more scowl, guys. Just own it. Own it, guys. It's winter.

BOLDUAN: We are still in the middle of winter. PEREIRA: That's absolutely a good point. We still have a few weeks to go.


PETERSONS: Thanks to little groundhog --


PEREIRA: All right. Thanks, Indra. Let's take a look at your headlines now.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Breaking news this morning from Egypt where the prime minister and his entire cabinet have resigned some six months after taking power. No reason was given, but the country has been dealing with protests over economic troubles. No word yet on who will replace the prime minister or even if the interim president has accepted those resignations.

The Pentagon is reportedly planning to scale back the size of the U.S. army to levels not seen since before World War II. The "New York Times" said Defense Secretary Hagel will unveil budget cuts that will dramatically reduce the size of the armed forces and cut an entire fleet of Air Force attack jets. The spending plan needs Congressional approval.

To Venezuela now where President Nicolas Maduro is now calling for a national peace conference on Wednesday. He is expected to meet face- to-face with governors and mayors today as anti-government protests continue to rage. The opposition has blamed Maduro for violence that has left as many as eight people dead.

Medical mystery is unfolding this morning in California. Small number of children suffering paralysis in their limbs and other polio-like symptoms. This trend started in 2012. Doctors say they now know for sure it is not polio. They suspect that they may be dealing with some of the same type much virus.


PEREIRA (on-camera): Five of the stricken children still haven't regained the use of their arms and legs after six months.

So, here's a question for you. How many of this year's Oscar nominated films have you seen? Can you do a count? There's nine of the Best Pictures ones. You're like most Americans, you haven't seen many of them. You did three?

BOLDUAN: Maybe three. Yes, three.

PEREIRA: According to a new poll, two-thirds of Americans have not seen any of the movies nominated for Best Picture. Among the top films most people have seen, "Captain Phillips" and the space drama, "Gravity". The 86th academy awards show airs this Sunday. BOLDUAN: Have you seen any of them?

PEREIRA: No, I haven't seen. I'll, by tomorrow, have seen seven of the nine.

BOLDUAN: Well, that's great, though.

PEREIRA: That I have to, because --

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. Full disclosure.

PEREIRA: How many -- I know you've seen a few.

CUOMO: I've seen a few of them.

PEREIRA: But they're good one, folks. It's nine --

BOLDUAN: After seeing "Dallas Buyer's Club." I did watch "Dallas Buyer's Club."

CUOMO: I have not seen it.

BOLDUAN: I do understand why Matthew McConaughey was nominated for Best Actor.

CUOMO: Just weight loss or is it the character --


BOLDUAN: No, it is not the weight loss, actually -- hey. I love the joke that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have, which is like, that's called getting a role for a women, because --


BOLDUAN: -- if they lose weight. But, I actually don't think it's weight. It's really -- he just does a great job.


CUOMO: I do got to get after him. So, let's get going. Let's get through the show here.

BOLDUAN: OK, fine.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Ukraine's ousted president now wanted for mass murder after the deadly anti-government protests rattled the city's capital for months. Christiane Amanpour is going to be joining us to weigh in on all the new developments. What is next for the country, and also, what it all means for the U.S.?

CUOMO: And the NFL considering a rule change. What do you think of this? A 15-yard penalty if you use offensive language like the N- word. A necessary change. Is that what you do with culture or you just corrupting the game? Misplaced change? What do you think? We'll debate it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Last night's spectacular Olympics closing ceremonies being called a triumph for Russian president, Vladimir Putin, but with Ukraine on the brink of civil war after the ouster of its president, the spotlight still on Putin to see how he'll react. Certainly more challenging situation than even the Olympics.

CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, joins us from London. Christiane, thank you for joining us. Thank you for the opportunity to help me understand. If we start with this premise that the Olympics were a success, there was no major terror event that many of us were concerned about, can't control the weather, but otherwise, it was good, does this mean anything for projecting the situation forward for Russia in terms of how they conduct themselves in Ukraine?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, people were absolutely astounded not just by the terrible bloodshed in the streets of Kiev, but why would Putin at the end of a very successful Olympic Games, be either allowing it or in the know that this kind of crackdown was going to come and many are saying it's because just like with the winter games, he wanted to show a very strong Russia.

A Russia that is equal on the world stage, a Russia that may not be a super power in name, but he believes still is, and of course, Ukraine plays heavily into that picture that he has of Russia and its empire. He still wants a strong Russia and Ukraine and former soviet republics play into that for him.

CUOMO: The U.S. has said two things. One, Ukraine is not about Russia and the U.S., and, they have now said to Russia, stay out of the country during this period. I want you to tell me whether or not you believe either of those two statements are going to hold weight?

AMANPOUR: Well, the first one is really, really very important to focus on, that business of what will Putin do. He has had talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Secretary Kerry has had talks with the Russian foreign minister. Basically, the message coming from the west is very, very clear and simple. Stay out, do not send in military forces, and that we must agree on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

And allegedly, Putin has agreed to that, according to the Germans, after their read out from their phone call with Putin. So, he, apparently, has agreed to that. Let's not forget, however, that there are thousands and thousands of Russian troops, mostly naval, in Ukraine right now because the Crimea is where the Russian naval fleet actually does reside in the Black Sea area.

So, there are many, many troops there. However, it does not look like at this moment that Putin is planning on any sort of military intervention. That would make this situation a thousand times worse than it is, and apparently, they have given their word to the west that this won't happen. As for is Ukraine, you know, somehow indicative of a split between the U.S., E.U, and Russia. Well, it has been this big problem.

But, what the E.U. and U.S. are trying to say to Russia is it is not a zero sum game. You can have your dealings with Ukraine. You can have a close relationship with Ukraine, but guess what, so can we. And the two are not mutually exclusive. It can happen that way, and let's not forget that the majority of Ukrainian people want a closer alliance with Europe and the west.

CUOMO: What happens -- what do you think the chances that there winds up being a split, a secession? And two, what does the U.S. do if Russia violates the agreement of intervention? Let's just go general with intervention. Maybe it's military, maybe it's just what they provide to the government forces there, but what do you do in those two prospects, secession and if they break the --

AMANPOUR: Right now, everything is up in the air. I don't even think Russia probably knows who's in charge or what's going to happen. You know, they really played their cards not quite few well in this regard having put so much pressure on Ukraine, and now, they see it completely explode in a way that they probably had not foreseen at all. So, what the United States and Europe have to do is some very concerted and hands on long-term diplomacy.

Right now, the Europeans are talking about a massive aid package to Ukraine, because let's not forget, that is one of the problems of Ukraine. It needed so much economic support, and Russia is the one that's been giving it to them, in a drip, drip kind of way. It's been giving that support in terms of financial and other kind of aid.

So, the Europeans are trying to and the top European foreign policy woman, Catherine Ashton, is over there today. And they're trying to figure out some kind of major economic aid package and how to keep this place rolling forward. But that is what's going to have to happen, very concerted, hands on, don't take your eye off the ball diplomacy to make sure that this does not split and that it can, somehow, be put back together in a way that satisfies Ukraine, satisfies Russia, and satisfies the E.U. and the U.S.

And there is an example the former national security adviser of the United States, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has just written an article saying that Finland provides a very same model for Russia and Ukraine. Finland has a relationship with Russia that is both independent and very close ties.

BERMAN: Important to find an analogy right now, because people are going to look for a workable construct as a solution. Christiane, thank you for the insight as always. Great to see you.

AMANPOUR: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, imagine enjoying dinner at a restaurant and then finding out carbon monoxide was leaking the whole time. The nightmare played out at a New York mall leaving a man dead and dozens sick. This is the third incident this month. So, why it is happening so often?

And also this, punishing NFL players for using racial slurs, but is 15 yards enough of a penalty or is it too much? Can the potential rule change be enforced? We'll discuss coming up.