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CONNECT THE WORLD

Talking Tough Over Iran; U.N. Humanitarian Chief Visits Syria; Chelsea Fires Another Manager; International Observers Call Russian Presidential Election Unfair; Protests in Moscow; Putin Supporters Celebrate; Guarded Reaction to Putin's Election; Russian Tycoon Considering Return to Politics; A Tsar is Born; Young Japanese Rebuilding Japan; Prince Harry's Royal Caribbean Tour; Parting Shots of Iditarod Sled Dog Race

Aired March 5, 2012 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD, talking tough over Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel remains the master of its fate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Israel says it's reserved the right to defend itself. But the U.S. president insists there is still time for diplomacy.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Tonight, as the UN's nuclear watchdog expresses serious concerns over Iran's ambitions, we'll attempt to separate the facts from the real politics.

Also this hour, Russian police break up a rally to protest Putin's victory. One of his most outspoken critics tells me why he now plans to enter the political fray.

And...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're still chasing Prince Harry. We'll finally get there at some point. We're now in a boat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: By boat and by bus, Max races across the Bahamas on a mission to track down Prince Harry.

Standing together against a perceived nuclear threat, but still at odds over some critical considerations.

We begin tonight with a high stakes meeting between the United States and Israel.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House today. Both were adamant about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

But they apparently haven't reached agreement on explicit red lines, actions by Iran that would trigger a military response.

Mr. Netanyahu says Iran must not be allowed even the capability to manufacture a bomb, saying Israel will do whatever it takes to erase the threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: Israel must reserve the right to defend itself. And after all, that's -- that's the very purpose of the Jewish state, to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny. And that's why my supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, the UN's nuclear watchdog voiced its own concerns about Iran today. The International Atomic Energy Agency says it cannot verify Iran's claim that its program is peaceful, saying it has -- and I quote -- "credible evidence of nuclear weapon research."

Well, President Obama says there is -- and I quote -- "still a window for diplomacy to work" here. But the U.S. and Israel apparently don't agree on how fast that window is closing.

We are covering every angle of this story for you tonight, as you would imagine.

Dan Lothian is at the White House.

Fionnuala Sweeney is in Jerusalem.

And Matthew Chance is covering the IAEA meeting in Vienna -- Dan, I want to start with you.

There's rarely been a more anticipated meeting between heads of state.

Is it clear yet whether there is anything like agreement here on the way forward?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, no. I mean I don't think that -- we weren't expecting any major agreement to come out of this meeting today. The meeting, by the way, in the Oval Office lasting for about two hours. Then both President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved on to a lunch meeting, as well.

But the message remains the same from this administration, is that one of being patient, to let diplomacy work, believing here at the White House that sanctions will force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Nonetheless, though, President Obama being very clear with his message here at the White House today, that the U.S. continues to support Israel and, as the president puts it, has Israel's back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all know that it's unacceptable, from Israel's perspective, to have a country with a nuclear weapon that has called for the destruction of Israel. But as I emphasized yesterday, it is profoundly in the United States' interests, as well, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We do not want to see a nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right. Well, that was Obama, Dan.

I want you to stay with us for a moment.

And I want to step back from the rhetoric now and take stock of some of the realities on the ground.

Israel and some others say the world can't risk a nuclear Iran, predicting a doomsday scenario.

But are these fears well-founded?

Here's Reza Sayah with a fact check.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many U.S. politicians, Western and Israeli leaders call a nuclear-armed Iran the greatest danger to world peace.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: An Iranian nuclear weapon is one of the most frightening things we have to confront for the future of every young person up here and every young person out there.

NETANYAHU: The greatest danger of all could soon be upon us -- a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons.

SAYAH (on camera): The narrative by those who fear Iran most goes something like this. Iran is ruled by mad mullahs and a deranged president, who are secretly building nuclear bombs and won't hesitate to use them. Therefore, they must be stopped, even if that means attacking Iran first.

(voice-over): But top U.S. military officials and analysis say the often frightening rhetoric doesn't always match the facts. One of the most alarming claims is that Iran poses an existential threat to U.S. ally, Israel. That's a view called into question by top U.S. officials, including the nation's highest ranking military officer, General Martin Dempsey.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I also understand that Israel has national interests that are unique to them. And, of course, they consider Iran to be an existential threat in a way that we have not concluded that Iran is an existential threat.

SAYAH: U.S. officials say they believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear capability that could lead to production of a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, powering plants to generate electricity.

Some analysts say the conflicting claims create an atmosphere of uncertainty that serves as a deterrent in a keep them guessing defense strategy.

(on camera): Neither Washington nor the UN's nuclear watchdog have actually said Iran is building a bomb.

But what if Iran had nukes?

(voice-over): U.S. officials and other analysts say they don't believe their leaders, widely seen by the West as extremists, are trigger happy.

KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: They haven't shown themselves to be suicidal. What's paramount for Iran's leadership is to remain in power. And so if you're a suicidal regime, you usually don't survive for 33 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS")

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": When you observe Iranian behavior, does it strike you as highly irrational?

DEMPSEY: That is a great question. And I'll tell you that I've -- I've been confronting that question since I came into the Central Command in 2008. And we -- we are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor.

PROFESSOR VALI NASR, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: They have ambitions of grandeur, not ambitions of destruction.

SAYAH: But hasn't Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said repeatedly he wants Israel wiped off the map?

Yes. But despite his confrontational tone, neither he nor other leaders have threatened to directly wage war against Israel.

NASR: No, they've never used language that is as explicit as -- as that. But they have talked in very -- in terms that are -- basically deny Israel's right to exist.

SAYAH: What Ahmadinejad initially said was misinterpreted, according to several analysts. They say he was not calling for an attack against Israel, but the ouster of its government, in favor of one Palestinian state, with Israel no longer recognized as a nation.

SADJADPOUR: Iran has consistently rejected Israel's existence since the 1979 revolution and they've supported groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, who agitate militarily against Israel. And for that reason, Israel fears that were Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, it would simply embolden Iran to double down on these rejectionist groups.

SAYAH: It could also lead to a major shift in the balance of power, creating instability in what is already one of the world's most volatile regions.

(on camera): And that's enough for Israel, the U.S. and their allies to be very worried.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Some context for these discussions.

Let me bring back my colleagues, Dan in -- in the U.S., Matthew in Vienna and Finn in Jerusalem -- Matthew, let me get -- come to you.

Tell us more about this credible evidence the IAEA says that it has, of a -- of nuclear ambitions.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a lot of intelligence that was handed, essentially, to the IAEA some time ago. They compiled it in their last report, which was -- which was put out in November of last year, where it sets out all these documents and all these intelligence assessments that have been given to the IAEA by Western intelligence agencies, basically setting out the kind of experimental work that Iran had done to try and develop, potentially, nuclear detonators and things like that.

At one of the key sites involved in that, Becky, the site the Parchin, it's a military installation to the southeast of the capital, Tehran. It's inside that Parchin military base that the IAEA say they have intelligence which suggests that Iran conducted experiments on trigger devices for nuclear weapons.

Now, they've been trying to get access to that site, but they haven't been given it. And so that's one of the sort of unanswered sort of issues, unanswered questions that -- that the IAEA are saying is, you know, one of the reasons they -- they need to get Iran's compliance -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Finn, the Atomic Energy Agency, then, with serious concerns. That's the backdrop, at least, to this meeting in Washington.

Now, last time this pair, the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister, met, it was the Middle East peace process, of course, taking center stage. That now, at least in principle, seems to have been sidelined.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, absolutely. And much to the Palestinians' chagrin. Today, a news conference was held in Ramallah by Hanan Ashrawi, a veritable and long-time veteran of the Palestinian and Israeli political scene. And she bemoaned specifically what Barack Obama had to say yesterday at the AIPAC meeting in the United States, describing his tone as demeaning and saying she was extremely disappointed with the words that he had to say, that, in a sense, America was the only country that had the moral clout to do anything about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and that Israel had been extremely adept at sidelining the issue, which is still bubbling under here, of course, and putting Iran front and center.

As to the IAEA reports that came out earlier today, this will obviously give the Israeli government more grist to the mill in terms of their viewpoints that, really, it's only a question of time as to when Israel should be -- Israel should strike Iran.

And a recent opinion poll over the weekend from the Brookings Institution said that some 19 percent of Israelis believe that there should not be a strike by Israel without U.S. support. And that figure rose to 42 percent once there was any kind of U.S. backing for such a strike.

But overall, even if there was a strike by Israel now or in the future, some 68 percent of Israelis believe that Hezbollah would have a reprisal attack.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating.

Finn, thank you for that.

Let's get back to Dan in Washington -- Dan, the headline out of this meeting is certain to be where these red lines are drawn on Iran, so far as the U.S. and Israel go.

So is it any clearer, remind us, at this point?

LOTHIAN: Well, you know, according to U.S. officials, they tell us that the position of this administration remains unchanged, and that is that President Obama does not want Iran to get a nuclear weapon. That is a much larger threshold than what the Israelis' position is. And that's that Iran not get nuclear capabilities.

The message was clear to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. position would not be changing at all. So perhaps that gives a bit more clarity, but still shows that there's distance here when it comes to that issue.

ANDERSON: Dan Lothian in Washington for you this evening, along with our colleagues around the world.

We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Our top story this hour, Israel and its biggest ally say they are both determined to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran's hands, but they don't agree on what these red lines would be that would trigger military action. The U.S. still wants more time for sanctions and diplomacy. But Israel making it clear this evening it will strike, if necessary, and if it must, it will do it alone.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, live from London. still to come, never in question -- the outcome of Russia's presidential election and the angry reaction to it.

Plus, a very familiar face in global diplomacy is getting ready to travel to Syria. A live report on that.

And later, the view from the top -- we're going to take a look at how Rory McIlroy became the best golfer on the planet.

That and much more after this.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Seventeen minutes past nine in London.

I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Welcome back.

Now, a day after Vladimir Putin claimed an easy victory in Russia's presidential election, protesters are denouncing that vote. Reports say police arrested dozens of demonstrators in Moscow's Pushkin Square. Protesters calling the election illegitimate and international monitors say the results were skewed.

But Mr. Putin dismissed the criticism in his victory speech on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRIME MINISTER, RUSSIA (through translator): And this is a victory, honest, intense. And we're appealing to all people to unite for our people, for our motherland. And we will win. We have won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, later, you're going to hear from one of Russia's wealthiest businessmen and his thoughts about the country's future.

Two high profile visits announced for Syria today. We've learned the United Nations humanitarian chief will arrive in Syria on Wednesday, followed a few days later, by a former U.N. secretary general.

CNN's Nic Robertson watching events in Syria from Beirut in Lebanon.

And he joins me now live -- about time, I hear people saying. But it's not for want of trying, is it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not for want of trying. And you know what it took this time. It took, actually, Russia and China at the U.N. joining voices and saying that Valerie Amos, the UN's humanitarian chief, should be allowed into Syria after she was denied access just last week.

And her -- her -- the purpose of her visit, she says, is to bring some aid to the humanitarian situation. And no doubt, one of the questions she will be asking is why, when the government has agreed, last week, that the Red Cross should be able to go into the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, but after four days it is now, and she'll be visiting Syria in the next two days, why hasn't the Red Cross been allowed in?

Activists say in Homs that they've seen smoke rising from the Baba Amr neighborhood. They accuse the government of hiding its atrocities. They call -- accuse the government of summary executions there. The government says it's just cleaning up what the terrorists left behind.

The Red Cross say that they have been able to get out some humanitarian aid to people that have fled Baba Amr. It's unclear how many people have fled, but 2,000 at least, according to the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, have made their way here, across the border into Lebanon.

And the concern -- the humanitarian concern is that the more shelling the government does, the more people will be forced on the move and that, no doubt, this is something Valerie Amos is going to want to get guarantees from the Syrian government that this doesn't continue.

It will be a very, very tough job for her -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. We spoke to her last Friday, before she was hoping to go. She wasn't given permission at that point, Nic. Thank God she's got in. And we'll effort to speak to her while she's there.

Nic Robertson for you out of Beirut this evening.

Thank you, Nic.

Let's get a look at some of the other stories connecting our world tonight.

And a gang of gunmen dressed in military style uniforms killed 27 members of Iraq's police force. In a predawn attack on Monday, 30 disguised men entered Haditha and opened fire on checkpoints. The gang, carrying forged arrest warrants for two police commanders. Three of the attackers were killed in a gunfight with police forces. The rest fled after the attack.

Well, we are hours away now from what's known as Super Tuesday, the day Republicans in 10 U.S. states vote for the man they want to take on Barack Obama. Now, a new CNN/ORC Poll puts frontrunners Mitt Romney in a tie with rival Rick Santorum in the key state of Ohio. Romney has picked up an endorsement from former attorney general, John Ashcroft. That is the third prominent conservative to back Romney in two days. More than 400 delegates are up for grabs in Tuesday's primaries and caucuses.

China has cut its growth target to 7.5 percent, its lowest since 2004. Premier Wen Jibao's announcement comes as the country's leaders gather for the last parliamentary session of the current administration. The premier says that China still faces challenges in economic development.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEN JIABAO, CHINESE PREMIER (through translator): We are keenly aware that China still faces many difficulties and challenges in economic and social development. Internationally, the road to global economic recovery will be torturous. The global financial crisis is still evolving and some countries will find it hard to ease the sovereign debt crisis any time soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Iceland's former prime minister has denied the country's financial disaster was his fault. Geir Haarde was in charge of the country when the banks collapsed there three years ago. He said in court he rejected all accusations.

Iceland needed a $2 billion IMF bailout for a population of less than half a million. It's the world's first trial of a politician in connection with that global crisis.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Coming up, ringing in the changes at Chelsea again.

What next for the club as they sack yet another manager?

That's on your sports headlines, outside of football, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, live from London.

I'm Becky Anderson.

Now, Chelsea looking for its ninth manager in as many years. And owner Roman Abramovich, Andre Villas-Boas is the latest coach to be dismissed. The 34 -year-old sacked on Sunday, just 257 days into what was a three year contract. His fate sealed after Chelsea lost 1-0 to a team called West Brom. Very few of you will know (INAUDIBLE).

For more on the changes at Chelsea, let's bring in -- in Don Riddell, my lord.

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I interviewed a football manager once and he said the only thing you know for sure, Becky, the day you are hired is that one day, you're going to get sacked. And when you take a job at Chelsea, that's absolutely what's going to happen.

I mean it's just incredible, Roman Abramovich has now sacked six managers during his time there. Andre Villas-Boas going, as you say, just after 257 days.

Given their run of form, I don't think anybody was really that surprised.

They've only won three of their last Premier League games. It was obvious the players didn't really want to play for him. They're outside the Champions League places. And Chelsea just cannot afford to miss out on the Champions League.

So although it was, perhaps, expected, I think many within the game and certainly many fellow managers are rather disappointed that his contract has been severed there just so quickly.

This is what the Arsenal manager had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARSENE WENGER, ARSENAL MANAGER: I just can say I feel sorry for Andre Villas-Boas because I know him and I like him as a manager and as a man. And I feel sorry for him. And it's sad every time a manager loses his job, because it's a job that demands a full commitment. And I think he did that and that he -- I'm sorry that he was not given enough time to do his job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: Becky, you're a football fan.

Have you ever stood on the terraces and chanted, "What a waste of money!?"

ANDERSON: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON: Regularly at tournaments.

(LAUGHTER)

RIDDELL: Yes. Well, you're supposed to chant that at opposing players...

ANDERSON: Yes.

RIDDELL: -- who you don't think are very good. But I mean in Chelsea's case, what a waste of money. And I'm not criticizing Andre Villas-Boas, but they spent $20 million...

ANDERSON: Right.

RIDDELL: -- to break his contract at Puerto to hire him. Then they put him on a contract where they were paying him $135,000 a week and they've got rid of him...

ANDERSON: Yes.

RIDDELL: -- after less than a season (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: He was supposed to be there for three years. It was all about this new project, which was brilliant on the youngsters and sort of, to a certain extent, sidelining some of the older players brought in under Barilla, of course. Those players have been the ones who have made life really difficult for this 34 -year-old.

Player power, really important at these big, big clubs?

RIDDELL: Yes, well, it's really important to Chelsea. And you've got players like Frank Lampard and John Terry who really do have the ear of Roman Abramovich. And it really does sound like they have an awfully big say at what goes on at that club. And when you bring in a manager who has been successful in Portugal, but he's only 34 years old, that's the same age as some of these players. Some of those players are even older than him.

So I think it was a very, very difficult position for him to be in.

ANDERSON: One quiz -- quick question.

The chosen one, on his way?

RIDDELL: The special one (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: Oh, he's the special one?

RIDDELL: Yes.

ANDERSON: Well, let's just choose him.

RIDDELL: It was.

ANDERSON: The chosen one, if he gets the job.

RIDDELL: I mean he might be. I mean there are rumors that Mourinho, the former Chelsea manager, has been spotted house hunting in London. I think it would be quite something if he came back, but you never know.

ANDERSON: Yes. All right. The special one possibly on his way.

McIlroy, what a result in that golfing tournament...

RIDDELL: Yes.

ANDERSON: -- in the States.

RIDDELL: Just incredible. The Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy...

ANDERSON: Unbelievable.

RIDDELL: -- the man from Hollywood, Northern Ireland, who really does seem to have been destined to become a star. I watched him as an amateur at the British Open in Carnoustie in 2007. He was the best amateur at that tournament. And within less than five years, he has established himself as one of the best young golfers of all time.

There he is in action at the Honda Classic over the weekend.

You know, in just a few short years, he's established himself as a Ryder Cup star. He's won five tournaments. He's won a major, the U.S. Open. Now he is the world number one. And given his form and the way he's been playing over the last couple of years, you can see him really building on this.

ANDERSON: And to achieve that, he had to beat Tiger Woods or keep Tiger Woods at bay, who played the most remarkable round of golf.

RIDDELL: Absolutely.

ANDERSON: He's back.

RIDDELL: Well, it's -- well, he -- he's back, to a certain extent. He's still not winning like he used to.

ANDERSON: Yes.

RIDDELL: But, yes, Tiger shot a 62 yesterday, nearly broke the course record.

ANDERSON: Yes.

RIDDELL: He is a former world number one, of course.

Lee Westwood, another former world number one, shot a 63 yesterday. And McIlroy, we all saw the pressure that was put on him at the Masters last year and how he crumbled under that, how he can now handle the pressure. He kept both those guys at bay to win the tournament and become the world number one.

ANDERSON: Oh, unbelievable stuff.

We're going to hear from him on "WORLD SPORT" just about an hour from now with Mr. Riddell, Don Riddell.

Don Riddell in the house for you this evening here on CNN.

Stay with us for that.

Still to come here in the next half hour, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

And an easy victory, but a challenging response -- what Vladimir Putin faces in his next term in office.

Then, a year after scenes like these captured the attention of the world, we're going to introduce you to the young Japanese who are devoting their lives to cleaning up their country.

And later, Britain's Prince Harry makes it to the Bahamas, but not before taking an unexpected detour. Stay with us here on CNN and we'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back, and for those who are just joining us, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. It's time for a check of the world news headlines for you.

US president Barack Obama says the United States and Israel both prefer diplomacy in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat but are still considering a military option. He met today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

The UN nuclear watchdog chief says Iran's failure to cooperate with inspectors at its Parchin site makes it impossible to know if its program is peaceful. Meanwhile, CNN has learned that Iran offered inspectors a chance to check out another key site, but the IAEA declined.

Thousands of Russian's protested Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory earlier today. Reports say police arrested dozens of people who refused to leave a rally in Moscow. Mr. Putin won about 65 percent of the vote to return to office for six years.

A heavyweight diplomatic team is headed to Syria. Former UN boss Kofi Annan and the humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, seen here, will both visit as international pressure mounts to end the bloodshed. Amos said the Syrian government has agreed to the visit.

Super Tuesday is almost here, the day US Republicans in ten states will vote for their presidential candidate. A new CNN/ORC poll puts Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in a tie in the key state of Ohio. Four hundred delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday.

Well, now, on the criticism of Russia's presidential election, police breaking up a protest in Moscow's Pushkin Square. Thousands of people chanted "Russia yes, Putin no."

International observers are harshly critical. Monitors say they witnessed ballot-stuffing and other irregularities at about a third of the polling stations that they observed. They called the election unfair from the start.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONINO PICULA, OBSERVER CHIEF, OSCE: The biggest problem with this election is that there was no real competition. It was not a level playing field, and abused executive power as well as the inappropriate use of administrative resources ensured that ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt. The broadcast media was clearly biased in favor of one candidate and did not provide fair coverage of the other candidates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The anger sparked several protests in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, and police reportedly made arrests at all of them. CNN's Phil Black joining us now, live, from Moscow with the very latest.

And yesterday, we spoke at this time, Putin about to declare his victory with only 20 percent of the vote counted at that point. An enormous rally in support of the would-be president in Moscow last night. You said tonight we'd expect to see opposition rallies, and we have, but they haven't been peaceful.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. Well, there was one large rally, Becky, and it was largely peaceful. It resembled very much a lot of the opposition rallies we've seen in recent months.

It was, I think, around 20,000 people or so, peaceful but very determined, a bit more edgy than what we've seen in the past. Certainly a lot of anger directed specifically at Vladimir Putin, and it was a very clear signal of their intention to maintain this campaign.

But at the same time, in other areas of Moscow, and as you mentioned, in St. Petersburg, some more hardcore activists were conducting their own rallies. They were doing it illegally. They didn't have permission to do this in the first place, as the city authorities here require.

So, the police moved in, and they were arrested. And even at the end of this large, big rally in Pushkin Square, which was legal, a number of the protesters there decided they were going to try and occupy that space, set up some sort of camp.

Again, the police showed no tolerance for it whatsoever. They moved in in big numbers, forced most of the crowd out, arrested quite a few people, as well.

So, at the end of an evening of rallies, in which, I think, around 20,000 people --

ANDERSON: Yes.

BLACK: -- protested, around 250 people were arrested. What this shows is that there is an element within the protest movement who are looking to escalate their campaign, who want to take it just that little bit further, Becky.

ANDERSON: In the past, Phil, I think it would be correct to say that we might have seen these sort of rallies today, and that would have been the extent of if.

But given what you have seen of this opposition movement, the extent of the movement, the differing people that are in this movement these days, would you expect to see this opposition voice continue now?

BLACK: Well, I think from what we saw today, with this large crowd on Pushkin Square, then I think the answer is yes. I think that's what they were saying.

And you've got to remember just who the bulk of this crowd are. These are people who were not politically active just a few months ago. These are the comfortable middle class, urban-living people, the well-educated people who are very much fed up with Putin's rule.

There's been a lot of talk about this particular demographic in recent months and how they've suddenly woken up to the politics of the country, and they're prepared to show just how angry they actually are.

And yes, I think that they have signaled their intention to keep doing it, but there is a clear distinction between them and that more hardcore element of political activists, who are prepared to push the limit, provoke the authorities and, if necessary, become arrested or detained --

ANDERSON: Sure.

BLACK: -- just to try and provoke that further reaction.

ANDERSON: Phil Black's in Moscow for you this evening. Phil, thank you for that.

Not all the demonstrations were in opposition to the election results. CNN's Jill Dougherty reports, now, on a gathering of Vladimir Putin supporters in central Moscow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We're here at a party, a celebration party for Vladimir Putin. This is really the 64 percent. These are the people who voted for Vladimir Putin, and they definitely support him.

Some of the signs over here: "I'm for Putin and that is it."

We're right off Red Square, and up on the stage, there are singers, there are dancers. There are a whole lot of people who support Vladimir Putin. We talked with some of the people. Some of them are factory workers, some of them are students. Actually, I talked to one guy who said he's here because it's the biggest party in town.

And another thing, some of these kids actually were born after the end of the Soviet Union, so this was their first election, and they said they're going to be taking part in a lot more elections.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right. Well, reaction to Mr. Putin's election has been generally guarded, it's got to be said.

While the US said it was looking forward to working with the president-elect, Washington also urged Russia to conduct an independent probe of those election results.

France accepted the victory was not in doubt, but said the election was not exemplary.

Syria's embattled president Bashar al-Assad congratulated Mr. Putin. Russia's been a strong ally during Syria's year-long uprising.

Japan's prime minister also sent congratulations and expressed hope for a a "wise" solution to a territorial dispute over a chain of islands.

Well, one of Mr. Putin's most outspoken critics is billionaire Alexander Lebedev, an oligarch who has in the past accused the Russian authorities of targeting his business interests because of his vocal opposition to the Kremlin.

These days, Alexander lives in London, but says he is impressed the people of Russia have found their voice, and he says he believes it may be time to chuck in the business towel and get home to get involved. Here's what he said when I spoke to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER LEBEDEV, RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN: I plan to get out of business, to go more into politics, but it's not that easy. I've become to big. Hopefully, it's going to take me another three to four months.

ANDERSON: Three to four months?

LEBEDEV: Yes --

ANDERSON: Before you get back into politics?

LEBEDEV: And then, I would try to change this stereotype that being on the Forbes list, you cannot be doing anything positive.

ANDERSON: I wonder why you didn't stand this time, or at least try to stand. You could have got two million --

LEBEDEV: It's just a complete waste of resources. Even if you pay, say, like Zhirinovsky or Prokhorov, say, $100 for a second try, which means two million signatures. How much is it? It's $200 million US? You just throw it out of the window.

ANDERSON: That's nothing to you.

LEBEDEV: I don't have the cash, really.

ANDERSON: Your response to the result?

LEBEDEV: Well, the election is the election, but corruption is the corruption, and the deficiencies of the institutions, and this is why the people are protesting, are still there. So, it's up to Putin, actually, to change that or to leave it the way it used to be.

Until recently, we had no proper election, no proper parliament, no proper judicial system, no proper media, mostly controlled by Kremlin, by the state.

And putting aside the accusations, which are wrong, from the authorities, that these people are calling for a revolution, I would say the protests will continue, unless the authorities listen and change.

ANDERSON: It's been an interesting exercise, hasn't it? Because something like as many as 25 percent of the voting public now have voiced their dissent, certainly on the streets if not reflected in the vote.

What does a President Putin need to do now to legitimize his victory and/or quiet down this dissent?

LEBEDEV: Finish what has been promised, which is a new law on the protest, which would be liberalizing the possibility for everyone to organize a protest.

It depends how far Putin would like to go, because I think number one problem for him is corruption.

ANDERSON: For our audience, it's important to get a sense of who Putin will be on the international stage. For example, Clinton, Hillary Clinton, accused Russia only a week or so ago of "despicable behavior" over its UN veto on Syria. How will that have gone down with a President Putin?

LEBEDEV: It's a tricky question. If you look at what has been achieved in Libya by the international effort, and I doubt you would consider that a success.

Now, on Syria, until there is a proper consensus on what should be done, and I hear different voices from the Gulf, from the United States, from Europe, I think Russia's position is they're sort of trying to moderate the effort.

So, if Russia becomes a more European country, with proper democratic institutions, I do not object to Russia playing sort of a stabilizing role, a moderating role, in cases like Libya-Syria because, apparently, with all of the war expert faces in Iran, somebody has to play this role, which is not necessarily a negative one.

ANDERSON: So, do you think that a Russia under Putin will become a more European, more democratic country?

LEBEDEV: We have to become more European. There's nothing wrong about it. It's absolutely -- the protesters are completely right. We have to be a member of EC one day. It's a completely clear and proper position on the foreign policies. And I hope Putin would gradually accept that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Alexander Lebedev speaking to me earlier. Well, so far, Putin has spent eight years as president. Now, his recent win means he could potentially rule for another 12 years. Now, that has led some protesters to compare him with a Russian tsar.

Well, the president still has a while to go before he can compete with these notorious past leaders. There's Nicholas II, the country's last tsar, who ruled for 22 years. Then, Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for 42 years. And finally, there's Ivan the Terrible. He took the throne when he was just 3 years old and ruled for a phenomenal 51 years. Good luck, Vladimir.

Coming up next on CONNECT THE WORLD, serving their country. A year after that tsunami devastated parts of Japan, some young people have given up life in the big cities to give back to the smaller towns. That story, coming up. Do stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: It's been nearly a year since a massive earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown that crippled huge parts of the country. Scenes like these broadcast across the globe, showing the unstoppable waves smashing into the coast. 15,000 people were killed in that disaster.

Japan's struggles have inspired an unlikely group to take action. They are young adults from the big cities who've decided they can't sit by and watch small towns in their country disappear forever. CNN's Kyung Lah has this inspirational story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daybreak at the dock. Culturing oysters. And nurturing scallops, as families have done for generations in Ogatsu, Japan. But the student learning here today is not this fisherman's son or schooled in the trade.

LAH (on camera): Nothing related to fishing?

LAH (voice-over): "Nothing at all," says Takashi Tachibana. Tachibana studied political science and ran his own small business in Tokyo, a cushy full-time job and a life in the city he gave up to move to the tsunami-devastated town of Ogatsu.

LAH (on camera): Did you fundamentally change after the disaster?

LAH (voice-over): "I think so," he says. "I now act not just with my head, but with my heart." His heart was moved, he explains, by last year's destructive tsunami and the suffering of a ravaged region.

And it's not just him. These people in their 20s and 30s are part of a reverse migration and renewed volunteerism among the young, who are returning to the rural communities.

"I'm Japanese, too," says 27-year-old Ayumi Tashima. She's in Ogatsu volunteering on the weekend. She doesn't know anyone here, but just wants to help.

LAH (on camera): A year after the disaster, the town of Ogatsu looks like the tsunami and the earthquake struck just yesterday: 75 percent of the population left here, seeing no reason to rebuild, no economic future for this place. The people left behind say, without young people coming in, this town will die.

LAH (voice-over): Hiromitsu Ito is a third generation Ogatsu fisherman.

LAH (on camera): What happens to Ogatsu if you don't have this interface with these young people coming in?

LAH (voice-over): "Even before the quake, our town was losing people and disappearing," he says. "Our fishing industry would die out if they didn't come here."

But a few volunteers fishing on the weekend won't save a town, says Tachibana, who admits rebuilding a depleted town is an uphill climb. What's different about this reverse migration, he believes, is that they're taking city smarts and reforming rural ways.

Tachibana connects Ogatsu's fisherman to Tokyo's buyers, cutting out the expensive middle man distributor. Bigger profits return to the fishermen and to Ogatsu. The young here say they're not saving a town, the town is also saving them.

"I think 2012 will be a turning point in history for young people," says Tachibana. "We were raised to believe in mass consumption and improving the economy. Maybe there's more to life than that."

Kyung Lah, CNN, Ogatsu, Japan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: When we come back tonight, from Belize to the Bahamas, Prince Harry is turning out to be a big hit in the Caribbean. Royal Correspondent Max Foster has the inside scoop. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Well, his itinerary is a busy one, but check Belize done. Britain's Prince Harry now onto the Bahamas on his first overseas tour representing his granny, Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee.

Harry's voyage started in Belize before moving onto the Caribbean. It will end in Jamaica. CNN's Royal Correspondent Max Foster traveling with the prince. He tells us Harry's drawing huge crowds and cheers wherever he goes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, this was a big test for Prince Harry, the first time he's been entrusted by his grandmother, the queen, to represent her abroad. No less than the year where she's celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. Let's see how he did.

FOSTER (voice-over): A private jet for a very public visit. The red carpet, the guard of honor, all the formalities you'd expect from a royal tour, but with a Harry twist. Gesturing to the gathered media, he jokes, "They're not with me."

A motorcade took Harry to the capital, Belmopan, the route lined with well-wishers. A street party awaited him. He's here representing his grandmother, the queen, who is the Belizean head of state.

Then, we saw Harry the party prince. He sampled local dishes, including cow foot soup, and washed it down with some punchy local cocktails. After all that, how could he turn down an invitation to dance?

FOSTER (on camera): Well, Prince Harry didn't disappoint. He came to this street festival, he ate, he drank, he even danced.

FOSTER (voice-over): The next morning, Harry hit the great outdoors, climbing to the top of the Xunantunich Mayan temple. A prince clearly with a head for heights.

This was a whirlwind tour of less than 24 hours, and before we knew it, Harry was in the Bahamas and in tropical military uniform.

(CROWD SCREAMS)

FOSTER: A quick change, and time to tease his brother, William, about landing a trip to paradise.

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE HARRY, BRITAIN: I will certainly be showing off about it to my brother and sister-in-law when I return home.

FOSTER (on camera): You met Diana when she came to the Bahamas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

FOSTER: And now, you're going to meet Harry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Her baby, her baby.

FOSTER: The third generation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. So, it's wonderful

FOSTER (voice-over): Then, he was off again. It's difficult keeping up with him.

(POLICE SIRENS)

FOSTER (on camera): I think this is a first for a press bus, police escort to the airport to catch up with Prince Harry. He's always one step ahead.

Well, we're still chasing -- Prince Harry. We'll finally get there at some point. We're now in a speedboat on the way to Harbour Island in the Bahamas, hoping we're going to get there before him.

FOSTER (voice-over): Harry, meanwhile, was at breakneck speed in his boat -- until it broke down. Luckily, there was a spare.

We managed to beat him to Harbour Island, this small oasis of paradise, where they went wild for their prince.

After wowing this usually sleepy idyll, Prince Harry set off accompanied by his mother's bridesmaid, India Hicks, who helped show him around the island.

FOSTER (on camera): So, no doubt, this first leg of his first major overseas tour went incredibly well for Prince Harry. But the next leg will be a bigger test. He's heading to Jamaica, where the prime minister has vowed to oust his grandmother as head of state.

Also, he's going to race Usain Bolt on a track. A brave man. More details on that tomorrow. Becky?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: All right, good stuff, thank you for that. Brave? More like an idiot!

If sun, sand, and English princes aren't your cup of tea, maybe tonight's Parting Shots will appeal to you. I hope so. This was the scene in Anchorage, Alaska, over the weekend, as the Iditarod dog sled race officially got underway.

Dozens of teams signed up to begin the 1700 kilometer race across some of the most desolate terrain in the world. Each team has about 16 dogs and one musher, apparently. The winner should cross the finish line in Nome, in Alaska, in about 10 days time.

I don't know what a musher is. I'm going to go and find out. Leave you with the advertising break coming up. After that, your world news headlines and "BackStory." Stay with us.

END