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Kerry's Unannounced Visit to Afghanistan; Former Pakistani President Returns Home; Rise and Fall of A Russian Tycoon; China's First Lady Makes Her Debut; Children Attend School Under Tree

Aired March 25, 2013 - 12:30   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to AROUND THE WORLD. Here are the top stories to the minute.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: In Cyprus, a $13 billion deal saves the country's financial system from collapse. The deal taxes the biggest bank accounts, anything more than $130,000.

HOLMES: Yeah. The European Union is also going to kick in several billion dollars to help keep the banks afloat. One of them is shut down.

Let's go to Afghanistan, Secretary of State John Kerry dropping in to meet with President Hamid Karzai.

MALVEAUX: The unannounced visit coincided with the handover of a military prison to full Afghan control, also comes at a time of tension, as you can imagine, between President Karzai and U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. That actually really escalated this month after a bomb went off in Kabul that killed nine people.

HOLMES: In Syria, a rebel army chief is targeted in an apparent assassination attempt. That's according to opposition sources. They say Colonel Riad al-Assad was injured when his car was targeted in an explosion.

MALVEAUX: They would not confirm reports that his foot actually had to be amputated. Now, al-Assad, he's head of the Free Syrian Army. He is not related to the Syrian president. What the video shows is what is said to be the aftermath of that blast.

HOLMES: Also in Syria, opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib tried to resign yesterday, but the national coalition's executive committee said no, so he agreed to stay on until the group's next meeting.

MALVEAUX: Al-Khatib says powerful countries are using the Syrian crisis to advance their own interests. He plans to talk about it at the Arab League summit. That's going to happen later this week.

HOLMES: And now to a man who has defied threats on his life to return home.

MALVEAUX: We're talking about Pakistan's former president. He arrived in the port city of Karachi. That was on Sunday. Pervez Musharraf spending almost five years in self-imposed exile.

HOLMES: Yeah, mainly in London, also Dubai. He actually faces criminal charges at home. And get this, the Taliban, well, they're threatening to kill him.

MALVEAUX: So Musharraf, he arrives in Pakistan, says he's willing to put his own life in danger to save the country.

Want to get the latest from Saima Mohsin who is talking about this. Clearly, the big question Michael and I have is why.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Why now? Let's forget that he came to power in Pakistan as a military dictator in a bloodless coup, no challenges there. Now he wants to return and try and pull those votes into the ballot box as a politician.

There's a general election coming up here in Pakistan, the first time, potentially, that one democratic government would hand over to another democratic government, believe it or not, for the first time in country's history.

He believes that he's going to be a key player, but given the muted response he's had to his landing here so far and very little media coverage, it would seem that he has an uphill battle to make that race to the front, so to speak, here in the election coming up here.

He -- as we said, he was unchallenged in the past, but now he wants to try and challenge all the big boys in Pakistan's politics. Well, it remains to be seen if he can manage that.

HOLMES: well, that's the thing. He comes back. He says he's coming back to, in his words, save the country. And yet, I think he hasn't got a seat. He hasn't got much of a chance of getting 170 seats in the election, one would imagine.

What -- meanwhile, what are the charges he's facing? And then, as we said, he's a guy that the Taliban wants to take out.

MOHSIN: Yes. Absolutely. A couple of reality checks there, aren't there? Not just the political one, but some harsh ones for him.

He's facing legal cases surrounding, most notably, the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, another one of Pakistan's very famous politicians, who was assassinated in 2007 under General Musharraf (INAUDIBLE) accused of not providing adequate security.

Incidentally, there's a bit of irony there. As he landed, there was security concerns around him, too.

Another political leader that was killed during a military operation in Belajistan (ph). There's a case against him for that.

And, of course, the Pakistani Taliban, this is not a popular man. He supported the United States in the war on terror, post-9/11. They say they have a death warrant waiting for him.


HOLMES: Indeed. Good to see you, Saima. Saima Mohsin there in Karachi.

MALVEAUX: We used to see a lot of Pervez Musharraf at the White House ...

HOLMES: Oh, yeah.

MALVEAUX: ... when I covered the president. And, you know, they had a really -- I mean, he had to really maintain that relationship very, very closely.

HOLMES: The U.S. liked him.

MALVEAUX: They loved him, but at the same time, he was a very controversial figure, but desperately needed in the Iraq war.

HOLMES: And it's still hard to understand why he's going home.

MALVEAUX: He has no power.

HOLMES: He has no power. Not everyone likes him.

MALVEAUX: No. There's a bounty on his head.

HOLMES: Really.

MALVEAUX: All right. He got on the Russian president's bad side, so now the mysterious death of Boris ...

HOLMES: Berezovsky. Yeah, he's in London, and that's raising a lot of questions. Berezovsky, a controversial man over the years, we're going to look at the rise and fall of this Russian tycoon.


HOLMES: All right. "Around the World' to England now, the story of a powerful and ultra-wealthy Russian businessman, Boris Berezovsky, one of those oligarchs we used to hear about.

MALVEAUX: Amazing.

HOLMES: Yeah, Boris Berezovsky.

MALVEAUX: He was forced into exile in England after getting on Russian President Vladimir Putin's bad side, on his last nerve. His death this weekend in London is raising a lot of questions. There's an autopsy that is taking place today.

We've got more on this story from Phil Black.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People who knew Boris Berezovsky in the 1990s described him as frantically energetic, driven and ambitious, not your average mathematician.

He became one of the country's hated oligarchs, a small number of ruthless businessmen who quickly built enormous personal wealth, snapping up state resources cheaply as Russia chaotically embraced capitalism.

He also charmed, pestered and lobbied his way into the Kremlin, becoming an influential political player.

And as President Boris Yeltsin, Berezovsky was said to have played a role in helping to install Vladimir Putin as his successor.

This was Berezovsky speaking to CNN in January 2000, just days after Putin took over.

BORIS BEREZOVSKY, RUSSIAN BUSINESSMAN: I think that Putin will continue the way which President Yeltsin established in Russia.

BLACK: He was wrong. Putin quickly cut all the pushy oligarchs out of Russian politics.

Six months later, Berezovsky told CNN Vladimir Putin was creating a dictatorship.

That year Berezovsky was investigated for corporate crimes which he denied and he fled Russia, never to return.

Berezovsky's death after 12 years in exile has not softened many Russians' opinion of him.

This woman says he betrayed Russia and wrecked many things for the country during its hardest times.

Damien Kuriyotsev (ph) used to work for Berezovsky and remained a family friend. He was one of the first to learn of his death.

DAMIEN KURIYOTSEV (PH), FRIEND OF BEREZOVSKY: Selfish, but positive. He was very difficult, but good friend. He tried to be a good friend and good man. Sometimes, he didn't succeed.

BLACK: Despite those flaws and failures, Kuriyotsev (ph) says he's proud to witness Berezovsky's efforts to change Russia.

KURIYOTSEV (PH): Business wasn't important for him. He relate to the money, to the business as resources to make changes.

BLACK: Kuriyotsev says his friend was unhappy, and he was in financial trouble, but he wouldn't have harmed himself. And he says Boris Berezovsky had always hoped to some day return to Russia.

Phil Black, CNN, Moscow.


HOLMES: Always seems to be mystery with some of these cases out of Russia. And we've got another one for you, too. Moscow, the legendary Bolshoi Ballet hit with another scandal.

MALVEAUX: This is unbelievable. You might remember this one. In January, somebody threw acid in the face of the artistic director, right? So that happens. And then earlier this month, one of the ballet's most popular dancers charged with ordering that attack.

HOLMES: That's right. And, if that wasn't enough, now a top ballerina tells Russian state television the Bolshoi has been forcing its dancers to act as escorts. She says there have been what they call assignments where girls were paired with rich businessmen.

MALVEAUX: This is crazy. The company's director has dismissed the allegations, but it all sounds like a hot mess to me.

HOLMES: There is more to come. Yeah, one of the world's great ballet companies.

MALVEAUX: China's new first lady, she is grabbing some attention.

HOLMES: She sure is.

MALVEAUX: So not only a singer, but a major general in China's army.

HOLMES: She's bigger than her husband.


MALVEAUX: This is in Tanzania. It's a sign of just how important Africa is to China.

HOLMES: Very important.


HOLMES: A lot of resources there. China's president is there. The second stop on his first overseas trip. Xi Jinping hailing Africa as a continent of hope and promise as he addressed leaders in Dar es Salaam.

MALVEAUX: Now, China gets many of its raw materials from Africa. And Xi heads to South Africa. That is happening tomorrow.

As China's president tours, it is actually -- it's his wife, as you can imagine, whose stealing the show. We steal the show.

HOLMES: She's big -- this --

MALVEAUX: Women steal the show.

HOLMES: That's right, you always do. This is the first sort of real first lady in a public sense that China's had. So she's being a big deal. Her name is Peng Liyuan and she is winning rave reviews for her style and elegance.

MALVEAUX: And she might even give Michelle Obama a run for her money as well.

HOLMES: That's what they say.

MALVEAUX: Yes, you know, a lot of talk. Monita Rajpal reports on -- she's a pretty unusual first lady.

HOLMES: She is.

MALVEAUX: Check it out.


MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you've just been put in charge of more than a billion people, image is everything. And while there was no shortage of ceremony to mark Chinese President Xi Jinping's international debut in Moscow, that's not what was grabbing attention back home. Enter Peng Liyuan, China's first lady, in more than one way. Graceful, elegant and fashion forward, Mrs. Peng is defying the trend of her predecessors and taking a central role on the international stage. And China is loving it.

If the words of one official are anything to go by, the nation finally feels it has a first lady who's presentable to the outside world. And as suggested by this trip to a Russian boarding school, it is PR gold for China's new leadership, giving them the chance to present a softer image for the country as it charges ahead with trade talks in Russia and Africa.

After all, a strong image certainly hasn't hurt the Obamas. U.S. First Lady Michelle is always on hand to help out her husband's reputation, but is more importantly a positive role model for American women in her own right. And who doesn't want a bit of "Sam Cam Glam" (ph) every now and then? The British prime minister's wife is not just a style icon, but a successful businesswoman. And it looks as though Peng Liyuan is beginning to turn the heads of China's growing ranks of female consumers too.

RAJPAL (on camera): Here in Hong Kong and China, it is fair to say fashion tends to be big, bright and bold. So Mrs. Peng's more demure look has been something of a welcome change. Outfits similar to the one she touched down in Moscow have been a big hit with online fashion stores like this one, Taow Bow (ph). The banner here reads, "miss out and you'll weep."

RAJPAL (voice-over): Peng Liyuan has come a long way from her days as an '80s folk singer. But while some may have raised eyebrows when this video first emerged, it's worth remembering she holds a masters degree in music and is, believe it or not, a major general in the People's Liberation Army. All in all, Mrs. Peng seems to be exactly the sort of super woman the world's next super power is crying out for.

Peng is also known for her charity work, being appointed ambassador for the fight against tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS for the World Health Organization. That will be an added significance as the couple continues their foreign trip in Africa. There's a saying in China, women hold up half the sky. In Peng Liyuan, it seems China's leaders have finally found a woman they can hold up to the world.

Monita Rajpal, CNN, Hong Kong.


MALVEAUX: Wouldn't you love to see the two of them meet, Michelle Obama and --

HOLMES: Michelle Obama, yes.

MALVEAUX: And her. Wouldn't that be great?

HOLMES: Well, she -- she's actually huge in China before -- better known than her husband before all this president stuff happened.



MALVEAUX: Now she's pretty big as well. All right.

HOLMES: Who else is big?

MALVEAUX: Britain's Prince Harry. He's going to be visiting the United States. That's happening in May. And it's an official visit to promote some of his causes here, eliminating land mines and helping war veterans.

HOLMES: Yes, among other things, he's going to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He's also going to tour some areas in the northeast that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

MALVEAUX: The prince is also going to visit Denver and Colorado Springs just to kind of check out some of the amazing sights in this country.

An earthquake destroyed their school. This happened in Costa Rica.

HOLMES: Yes, but these kids want their education and they're willing to hold classes without a classroom. Stick around.



This is our favorite story of the day. Off the coast of South Africa, some tourist getting a little too close for comfort with one of these great whites. Check it out.



(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: I love the beeps. I would absolutely be beeping. And the guy under water in that cage, he's beeping into his mask, I tell you.

MALVEAUX: Look at the close-up of the shark's teeth.


MALVEAUX: The mouth there. I mean, they thought they were actually safe inside the cage. OK, that is just way to close.

HOLMES: Yes. They had -- what they do is they put bait outside the boat to attract the great whites and they're meant to come along and put on a show and bit the bait. This guy just headed straight for the little gap there in the divers tank and tried to get in and get the real thing.

MALVEAUX: The entire head inside the cage. Narrowly missing the tube that was there. This is amazing, though, Michael, because like nobody was actually hurt in all of this.

HOLMES: Yes, which is why we may chuckle at their misfortune. That would have given them a bit of a shock but --

MALVEAUX: I'm just waiting for the theme song to "Jaws," to play that next, because --

HOLMES: Imagine being in there and you're looking at and think, oh, this is great. I'm getting a great view. And then, whoop, in he comes. Oh, boy.

MALVEAUX: Got a little bit more than they bargained for I bet.

HOLMES: Yes, indeed.

Well, children who are determined to learn can put up with almost any obstacle, including, in this case, having no school.

MALVEAUX: And this was because there was an earthquake that destroyed and damaged about 300 school buildings. This happened in Costa Rica. This was last September. And so, of course, everybody had to improvise, figure out what to do. And Rafael Romo, he actually found out what it was. Very unique. Check it out.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Young children eager to start the new day at school and learn new things. A normal class except that it's being held under the shade of a leafy tree. No walls, no floor and no roof.

Teacher Maria Jesus Cruz tries to give the students a sense of place. "I want you here every day on time," she says. But she knows it's hard for her students to ignore the harsh reality their school is gone.

This was the scene in Costa Rica last September when a powerful earthquake shook the country. Several people were injured. Fortunately, no one died. One hundred and eighty schools sustained damage and 101 were destroyed, including Paonis (ph) school in the rural community of Nandajura (ph).

YOCELYN ROSALES, STUDENT (through translator): I love my school and I don't want to go anywhere else. When I grow up, I want to work hard and make things happen. I want to be somebody who can help people in need.

ROMO: The most affected areas are in rural Costa Rica, where buildings were more vulnerable and access for construction crews more difficult.

MARIA JESUS CRUZ, TEACHER (through translator): We have a lot of economically disadvantaged families here. Most people depend on jobs at cantaloupe farms, but everything was destroyed by the earthquake.

ROMO (on camera): Government officials are scrambling to help communities devastated by the earthquake. The new school year in Costa Rica begin in early February. An education ministry official says they have already allocated funding for new school buildings, but chances are many won't be ready for the end of the school year in December.

MARCELA CENTENO, COSTA RICAN EDUCATION MINISTER (through translator): Construction will begin around June of this year. And we're expecting that by November or December the new buildings will be ready. At this school, we have to demolish classrooms, repair restrooms and improve the infrastructure in general.

ROMO (voice-over): Yocelyn Rosales, the girl who wants to help people in need when she grows up, is glad it's sunny again in Nandajura. Today, she's polishing her public speaking skills as part of a school project, while the other children listen under the shade of the tree they will call our school for the rest of the year.

Rafael Romo, CNN, (INAUDIBLE).



MALVEAUX: Want to take a look at what is trending AROUND THE WORLD right now.

HOLMES: People on Twitter talking about the talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Why? Well, she's smarter (ph). She's gone to Australia to tape her show.

MALVEAUX: Your home (ph) country of Australia. Gotta love it.

So Ellen, she loves the graffiti there, especially in Melbourne. So she's actually having a contest for the best dressed folks - the person in the audience -

HOLMES: Or undressed.

MALVEAUX: Undressed, look at that. We said it at the same time. Spray-painted clothes! Here's what she tweeted: "You've got talent, Melbourne. For my event tomorrow, I want you to spray paint an outfit. The best outfit's going to win $5,000."

HOLMES: And her wife Portia de Rossi is -

MALVEAUX: She's from there, right?

HOLMES: From Melbourne.

All right, that'll do it for me. Gotta go.

MALVEAUX: They're yelling at us that you've got to (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: They're yelling at us. I've gotta go. You carry on.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Michael. See you tomorrow.

HOLMES: See you tomorrow.