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Russian Convoy Headed to Ukraine; Egyptian Forces "Planned" Massacre;

Aired August 13, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight as the humanitarian crisis worsens in Eastern Ukraine, Russia says it's sending in help. But is it

aid or an invasion? I speak to Russia's special representative for human rights.

And the Ukranian government's ambassador at large.

And later in the program, a damning report into the killings of hundreds of protesters by Egyptian security forces last year. My interview with the

head of Human Rights Watch.


GORANI (voice-over): Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane.

What is in these trucks? That's what the world wants to know, as a massive convoy of 280 stark white Russian vehicles head for the Ukrainian border.

They're on their way now.

Russia says it is humanitarian aid for the people of Eastern Ukraine, battered by months of war.

But the United States says that any move by the convoy to enter Ukraine without permission from Kiev would be considered an invasion. With Russian

President Vladimir Putin on a visit to Russian annexed Crimea and thousands of Russian troops still massed on the border, Kiev is skeptical of Moscow

and insists it will not allow the convoy to enter the country.

It calls it a provocation at best and a Trojan horse at worst. A military invasion -- literally -- disguised as a gesture of goodwill.


ARSENIY YATSENYUK, UKRANIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The level of Russia's cynicism knows no bounds. First they send tanks, Grad

missiles, terrorists, bandits who fire on Ukrainians. And then they send water and salt.


GORANI: Russia claims it is working with the Red Cross on this humanitarian delivery. But the Red Cross says that's simply not true and

is urging Moscow to turn over the aid for distribution. The people of Eastern Ukraine are in desperate need. There is no question about that.

Any semblance of normal life has disappeared. There are shortages of water, food and electricity and heavy fighting from both pro-Russian rebels

and the Ukrainian military.

Eastern Ukraine is looking more and more like a war zone. The death toll from fighting in Ukraine in fact has doubled in the past two weeks alone to

more than 2,000, according to the United Nations.

So will this latest Russian move help Ukrainian civilians or simply spark more conflict? Tonight we have the unique chance to talk to foreign

ministry officials on both sides.

Konstantin Dolgov joins me from Moscow and from Kiev we are joined by Aleksandr Scherba.

Thanks to both of you for being with us here at the same time on CNN.

I would like to start, Mr. Dolgov, with you in Moscow. You've heard from officials in Kiev -- I spoke even to the secretary-general of NATO the

other day. Everyone expressing great concern about this, quote, "humanitarian" convoy, saying essentially it could be a cover for an


Is it?

KONSTANTIN DOLGOV, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY: Well, it's really interesting and disturbing to hear that NATO is so much

concerned about humanitarian convoy. But definitely it is humanitarian convoy and --


GORANI: All right. We -- our --

DOLGOV: -- stated many times. All the parameters, all the details have been meticulously --

GORANI: All right. We are clearly having some audio issues there with Konstantin Dolgov. I'm going to just jump in right now and until we can

fix that, let me go to Kiev in Ukraine.

I did not hear a word that Mr. Dolgov said. So we'll get back to him.

But in Kiev, Mr. Scherba, let me ask you this.

How concerned are you that this convoy coming from Russia is, in fact, an invasion disguised?

OLEKSANDR SCHERBA, AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, UKRAINE: It is indeed a very strange kind of situation when the very

country that started and fomented this war from the very beginning financed and inspired it, now is trying to send humanitarian convoy to Ukraine.

That's on the one hand. And we are -- of course, we are very distrustful of Russia's intentions because from the very beginning, Russia didn't show

any goodwill whatsoever.

But on the other hand, as you said and as you pointed out, the humanitarian situation on the ground is very desperate, very difficult. We are not in

(INAUDIBLE) kind of situation to be very adamant about, you know, sending back anything that we receive, even from the nation that is behaving really

in a hostile manner.

GORANI: All right. So I believe we can go back to Moscow, Konstantin Dolgov. I just want to make sure I can hear you this time.

What is this convoy about? Why not coordinate with the Red Cross? They're saying Russia is using Red Cross flags without authorization. And even

independent analysts are saying these are clearly in some cases military vehicles painted white.

Why not coordinate this better?

DOLGOV: Well, I'm really amazed to hear that it hasn't been coordinated. From what has been said many times, not just by Russian officials, all the

details, all the parameters of this humanitarian convoy have been meticulously discussed and agreed upon between Russia, Ukraine,

International Committee for the Red Cross and OSCE. We also discussed with the U.N. representatives all the details have been struck, have been

discussed, have been agreed upon. This is about humanitarian aid. This is about food. This is about medicines. This is about fresh water. It's

about supplying the most important things to people in Lugansk, in the Eastern Ukraine, who have been suffering for months now, who have become

victims of the punitive iteration (ph) by the Ukrainian authorities, which is continuing as we speak, which have been caught in probably the most

dramatic internal military conflict in Europe since the war in former Yugoslavia.

So --


GORANI: Mr. Dolgov, if I could get -- if I could get Oleksandr Scherba to respond to this, because Mr. Dolgov is saying in Moscow that --

DOLGOV: Why should I want to respond to him if you allow me?

OK, but then I want to give each one of you equal time. So if you -- so go ahead. Go ahead and then I'll go back to Kiev, because I want to make sure

that this is an equal conversation.

DOLGOV: I know. I will be -- I will be very brief in commenting on what - - on what the gentleman has just said. As far as I understand, he worked in the Ukrainian foreign ministry. And the Ukrainian foreign ministry has

officially by sending reply notes to us, to the Russian foreign ministry, has confirmed that all the details of that humanitarian convoy have been

agreed upon and that the green light was on in Kiev. I understand that this is a very precise, official reaction. And we hope that all the

Ukrainian officials will stick, will adhere to that particular understanding, which is not just in an oral form which has been put in


GORANI: Mr. Dolgov, I need to get Mr. Scherba in Kiev to respond to this.

Konstantin Dolgov in Moscow is saying this was coordinated with the Ukrainian foreign ministry, yes or no?

SCHERBA: Well, this is not the first time when Ukraine has faced with a weird kind of situation Moscow is involved. This isn't the first -- not

the first time when Moscow -- I caught the gentleman from Moscow meticulously discusses issues with someone and nobody except for Moscow

knows about that meticulous discussion.

And it is not the first time that Moscow refers to some very precise documents that no one from Moscow has heard of. But going back to what I

said in the beginning, we are not -- we are very much aware about the gravity of the humanitarian crisis caused by Moscow in the east of my


And we are not in a position to send back any humanitarian convoys, even from a country that has been so hostile and so betrayal (sic) to Ukraine as


GORANI: So, Konstantin Dolgov, you heard it there from Oleksandr Scherba, saying essentially this discussion you had with the Ukrainian foreign

ministry seems to be known only to Moscow.

How do you respond?

DOLGOV: Well, leaving aside rhetoric and I would say quite confrontational rhetoric, which I don't want to get engaged in, but I think that the

gentleman has just confirmed more or less that the Ukrainian side is not planning to turn -- to turn around any humanitarian aid.

Well, indeed, people are waiting and hundreds of thousands of -- I would stress -- Ukrainian citizens waiting for this aid and obviously I -- we

hope that these aid's roughly two tons of humanitarian aid will play a role in alleviating the -- that dramatic burden which is -- which has been

inflicted upon the civilian population by the military campaign, which is being waged instead of political dialogue. And --

GORANI: But Konstantin Dolgov, I just want to jump in, because I have one question before I go back to Kiev.

Why not just coordinate with the Red Cross? Why not, in this atmosphere, such lack of trust, I can see it with both of you, why not offload this

humanitarian aid? You say that's all it is.

What's the problem with doing it transparently at the border and then allow the Red Cross to drive it to those people who need it so much?

Why is that a problem?

DOLGOV: Well, it has been agreed. It has been -- well, it has been agreed with the Red Cross and the statement from the headquarters of the Red Cross

was as far as I know quite clear, that first of all the -- all the items which are contained in the convoy have been communicated to the ICRC. And

secondly, that ICRC remains in touch with the Russian authorities, with the Ukrainian authorities, which is positive. We are definitely open to any

discussions, additional discussions which might be necessary. But once again, the main focus is on the humanitarian crisis, dramatic crisis.

We need support. And I think people need --


GORANI: And I think both of you agree -- both of you, sir, agree on this. I just want to -- I just want to make sure I get Kiev, because as I

mentioned at the top here, we want both of you to have the exact same amount of time on the air.

Oleksandr Scherba, you're hearing from Moscow, here from Konstantin Dolgov, saying this has been coordinated. It's all about the civilians. It's all

about helping these people in such dire humanitarian need.

How do you react to that?

SCHERBA: Well, at no point of this crisis was Russia concerned about alleviating the pain of the people on the ground. If Russia was concerned

about it in the first place, it wouldn't have brought this tragedy on Ukrainian ground.

But we are in the kind of situation here where we have to go by the honest words of the aggressor. And in order to basically avoid the worst

expectations, the worst fears -- and some of us do have fears that these 300 military trucks driven by military personnel to Ukraine might

constitute a threat. In order to avoid this threat, we really need to agree on every detail of this convoy. And I hope we will.

GORANI: Right. And Oleksandr Scherba, do you have any concerns that this is, in fact, at least in part a military operation on the part of Russia?

Do you -- do you have those concerns?

SCHERBA: Of course we do have concerns about it, absolutely.

GORANI: All right.

So Konstantin Dolgov, you heard it there.

And by the way, you mentioned the ICRC, Mr. Dolgov. I have a tweet from them, which is minutes old, saying, "We are still waiting for Ukraine and

Russia to clarify practical details of this aid convoy."

It doesn't sound to me, reading that, as though they are very clear on what is exactly going on here.

DOLGOV: Well, it had a vantage point. You are reading tweets. I am not right now. But as I said, obviously we have been in touch with all the

interested parties. And it is a huge hypocrisy to present Russia's role, a particular humanitarian role in this -- in this particular case, as a guise

for a -- some military plans.

You know, it's particularly amazing to hear it from the -- from a representative for -- or the representatives of the Ukrainian government,

which continues to bomb and shell its own cities and its own citizens, you know. I -- we have heard from, I guess, prime minister of Ukraine,

concerns about the need to send the humanitarian convoy from Kiev to the eastern part of the country.

Well, maybe not a bad idea. But even better idea is to stop the punitive iteration (ph), the military campaign --


GORANI: Oleksandr Scherba --

DOLGOV: -- start political dialogue.

GORANI: -- Oleksandr Scherba, I'll just let you respond to that, please.

SCHERBA: Well, hypocrisy is the first word that comes to my mind, too, to start this whole tragedy, to foment this fire and then to send some water

to extinguish it, it is -- it is a hypocrisy and to speak about people dying on the ground and shelling from a representative of a country who

basically eradicated Chechnya some years ago, it is a hypocrisy. But we are used to it.

GORANI: We're going to have to leave it there. Konstantin Dolgov from Moscow and from Kiev Oleksandr Scherba, thanks, gentlemen, to you both this

evening for coming on CNN.

And we will be right back. Stay with us.




GORANI: Welcome back. I'm Hala Gorani. Christiane is off today.

As Egypt's leaders are getting a reputation as peacemakers in Gaza, hosting talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives in Cairo, they are

being accused of crimes against humanity at home in a damning report by Human Rights Watch.

The organization has just released a report into the killings at Rabaa al- Adawiya square in Cairo last year. That's when more than 800 people died when security forces cleared the camp of Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Protesters were rallying against the overthrow of the then president Mohammed Morsy. Human Rights Watch called it a premeditated attack equal

to or worse than China's Tiananmen Square killings.

The executive director of Human Rights Watch is Kenneth Roth. On Monday, he flew to Cairo to try to present this report to Egyptian officials.

However, he didn't have much luck. He was held at the airport overnight, denied entry and sent back home on a flight. He's now back in New York and

joins me now live.

Ken Roth, thanks for being with us.

Were you surprised -- you -- were you surprised that you were denied entry into Egypt?

KENNETH ROTH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: I was. I've been going to Egypt for over 20 years. Human Rights Watch has never in our

history been denied entry into Egypt. But of course we had shared this devastating report about the Rabaa massacre with the Egyptian government in

advance. They knew why we were coming. And I went to the airport like I always do and got my visa and actually got visas stamped until my name

popped up on the computer saying they didn't want me in. And so I got to spend a lovely 15 hours in the Cairo airport.


GORANI: Spend the -- I've had an overnight in the Cairo airport. It's not the most comfortable experience. But then you went back home.

Let's talk about the report itself. And tell us what the standout highlight headline is of this report on those killings a year ago.

ROTH: Well, the government's line is that this was going to be a gradual dispersion of the tens of thousands of demonstrators in that sit-in, that

they would give warnings, that there would be safe exits.

In fact, none of that happened. Within minutes, there were basically bulldozers and armored personnel carriers plowing into the square. And the

use of lethal force started right at the outset.

Now the protesters did use violence in return. There were some throwing Molotov cocktails and there were actually 15, 1-5 firearms found amongst

these tens of thousands of protesters. Eight police officers were killed. But there was no real effort on the part of the police to simply target the

people who were using violence. Instead, snipers were shooting indiscriminately into the crowd; at one point they were killing anybody who

tried to enter the hospital. Other soldiers were simply firing willy-nilly into the demonstrators. This was a massive use of force designed to crush

the Muslim Brotherhood movement, not a narrow effort to deal with the threat of violence.

GORANI: So you're saying this was deliberate and it was premeditated.

Is -- are things worse now for Egyptians in terms of human rights now than during the presidency of Hosni Mubarak, do you think?

ROTH: Sad to say, yes. This is actually the darkest moment that I remember in Egypt. It's not only the massive use of violence against

demonstrators. There have been some 22, 000 Muslim Brotherhood alleged supporters who are now in prison. There are these mass trials with mass

death sentences. NGOs are being attacked; human rights groups are being shut down.

This is a very dark moment in Egypt's history. But nonetheless, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry keeps talking about this progress toward

democracy, which only he somehow sees.

GORANI: Now the Egyptian government is saying essentially that you do not have any legal sort of right to operate in Egypt, that this was based --

this report -- on identified sources essentially that it was loosely sourced.

How do you respond to Egyptian officials accusing you basically of doing a bad job in compiling this report?

ROTH: Yes. Well, I thought it was interesting, somewhat rich, that they would say it's OK to kill 817 demonstrators, but it was illegal to

investigate the massacre.

But in terms of their specific allegations, this was a very carefully documented report. We interviewed 200 witnesses and not simply the

participants in the demonstration itself, but also neighborhood residents who are actually mostly unsympathetic to the demonstrators. We talked to

independent journalists who were there. We visited hospitals and morgues. And the broad accounts that we received largely corroborated each other and

told the story not of a careful effort to deal with the specific threat of violence, but rather a broad effort to simply mow down demonstrators.

GORANI: And Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations have their hands full these days with everything that's going on in the Middle

East. Of course there's also Iraq, the advance of ISIS in Syria as well, these terrible, terrible images we're seeing come from those areas

controlled by ISIS.

It seems as though this -- you talk about the darkest time for Egypt, also a very dark time for that part of the Middle East.

ROTH: Yes, that's absolutely the case. I mean, much of the attention is on Iraq, where it seems that every minority group is in jeopardy from ISIS.

The Yazidi, who have, you know, were in such desperate straits, they took to the Sinjar mountain area, which has 120 degrees during the day and no

water and no food. They were so desperate they had to get away from ISIS. But it's also the Chaldean Christians, the Kurds, the Shia in that area.

And of course next door in Syria, the people increasingly are stuck between Assad's barrel bombs on one hand and ISIS' brutality on the other. It's a

sad moment.

GORANI: All right, Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch, thanks very much for joining us this evening from New York.

ROTH: Thanks, Hala.

GORANI: Appreciate your time.

Now after all the violence, abuses and suffering, we'll take to you a place designed to give some respite, particularly to the youngest victims, a

circus of hope when we come back.




GORANI: And a final thought tonight, with children so often in the crosshairs of modern conflict, imagine a world where the world's war zones

become playgrounds. It's an idea that is gaining ground.


GORANI (voice-over): In Afghanistan, this is a mobile mini-circus for children. It provides a chance for kids from refugee families and

orphanages to tumble, juggle and learn circus feats.


GORANI (voice-over): The youngsters then put on a show, a (INAUDIBLE) to prepare for a peaceful future, as the organizers describe it.


GORANI: Let's hope that happens for them.

In Iraq, along with vital aid and support for refugees, UNICEF has also delivered 105 recreation kits for children. Play, now more than ever

perhaps, vital to the children of Iraq with all they're going through.

And after so many shocking images of children harmed in the war in Gaza, an image of beauty and joy as the cease-fire allows schools and playgrounds to

open again.

And let's hope that cease-fire holds.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter @HalaGorani. Thank you

for watching and goodbye from London.