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Crisis In Ukraine; Day Three Of Oscar Pistorius Trial; Entrepreneurs Look For Opportunities At Paris Fashion Week; China's Communist Party Declares War On Pollution; Rio's Carnival Extravaganza

Aired March 5, 2014 - 8:00   ET


PAULINE CHIOU, HOST: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

What will it take to end the standoff in the Crimea? Russia's top diplomat will meet his U.S. counterpart today.

At the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, a witness describes a separate incident where he was apparently grazed by a bullet.

And in Egypt, the trial of al Jazeera journalist accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood resumes. We will be live in Cairo.

Diplomats are in Paris looking for a solution to this showdown in Ukraine's Crimea region. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Ukraine's foreign minister earlier.

Russia's Sergei Lavrov arrives in Paris soon. And Hague says he'll push for a meeting between Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart.

Meanwhile in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Russia to deescalate the situation now.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What Russia has done is completely unacceptable. We should be clear about our national interests and our aim in all of this. Our national interest is that we have a strong interest in a world where the rule of law is upheld, where territorial integrity is respected, stability is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. And we should be clear that our aim is to deter further Russian military action and to deescalate this situation.

I think it's completely right to say that the action by the Russian government should be condemned by the whole world.


CHIOU: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it's regrettable that Russia's foreign minister didn't make this morning's meeting. But Sergei Lavrov did hold talks with his Spanish counterpart in Madrid. And he warned the international community against what he called double standards.


SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): There was a military coup and the legitimate president was removed by a method which is not in the constitution or in the legislation.

If we are too lenient to the people who are trying to govern our neighbor, everyone needs to realize that the bad example. It can be spread and there shouldn't be any double standards.


CHIOU: Now, on the ground we have standoffs at military bases across Crimea as the tense but calm situation continues. Reuters is reporting the Russian navy is blockading Ukrainian ships in Sevastopol. And uniformed men have arrived at the scene.

But Ukrainian flags are going back up in some places. In Donetsk in the eastern part of the Ukraine, Reuters reports that Ukraine's flag is now flying above the government headquarters there for the first time since Saturday. It had been flying the red, white and blue flag of Russia.

We're going to take you to Crimea right now where Anna Coren has more details for us live from Simferapol.

Anna, is it still fairly quiet where you are?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is quiet at the moment, Pauline, but obviously, you know, tensions are bubbling just beneath the surface. This is a very unpredictable, volatile situation.

You mentioned Ukrainian flags going up above government buildings. Well, I can tell you that the government building here in Simferapol, the capital of Crimea, there is the Russian flag that is flying next to the Crimean flag. There is no sign of the Ukrainian flag whatsoever.

It is important, Pauline, to note that this is a staunchly pro-Russian city. 60 percent of people here speak Russian. They've come to us throughout the day telling us that they want the Russian troops to come to Crimea, that they are scared of the fascists and the extremists who have taken over Kiev -- that's how they describe the pro-western Ukrainian government.

So, there is a real close link, if you like, you know, to Russia -- culturally, historically. This used to be part of the Soviet Union until 1954. And obviously when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 it just became part of -- stayed, I should say, with Ukraine.

So, Pauline, I can tell you that the people here are very pro-Russian and they certainly don't want to have any ties to the west.

CHIOU: So, they're very pro-Russian and they also must be watching closely what's going to be happening in Paris when the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. And there's also the threat of sanctions hanging over those talks.

What exactly to the people there in Crimea want from these talks, especially with the threat of economic retaliation?

COREN: Well, Crimea is an autonomous state. And if anything, they are going to hold a referendum at the end of the month, that is something that the new prime minister, a very pro-Russian, has announced. And that will decide on whether, I guess, Crimea becomes independent from Ukraine.

There are some people, some analysts who believe that Ukraine has lost Crimea.

So as far as the people here are concerned, they want to be their own independent state and have their own government, have no ties to Ukraine as such. If anything, they want to be closer to Russia.

So as far as these economic sanctions are concerned, I guess they don't see them affecting them, because they will be closer to Russia relying on Russian aid and -- yeah, that's where that relationship will be, that will be the status quo, Pauline.


A very quiet situation at the moment right now, but still tense behind you. Anna Coren there live in Simferapol in Crimea.

Well, Moscow and Washington paint very different pictures of the situation unfolding in Ukraine. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says Ukraine is in the grip of a military coup, but his U.S. counterpart John Kerry says Moscow is actually making up reasons to invade.

Chief U.S. security correspondent Jim Sciutto has more on that war of words.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today in Crimea, Russian and Ukrainian forces in a dramatic and dangerous standoff. Shots fired in the air, weapons drawn and here, a threat to open fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I said stop. I'm serious. I'll shoot at your legs.

SCIUTTO: And as secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, a war of words. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary Kerry trading diametrically opposed views of the crisis, back and forth...

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): The acting president, of course, is not legitimate.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The elected representatives of the people of Ukraine, they overwhelmingly approve the new government.

SCIUTTO: ...and back and forth.

PUTIN: Citizens of Ukraine, both Russian and Ukrainian, what worries them?

They're worried about unlawfulness.

KERRY: There has been no surge in crime, no surge in looting, no political retribution.

SCIUTTO: Despite the tensions on the ground, today, U.S. officials say they are focused on deescalating the crisis. The West is now opening a diplomatic off-ramp for Russia, offering to bring its concerns about the makeup of the new government and the safety of ethnic Russians in Ukraine before the U.N. and other international bodies.

Today, President Obama said President Putin may be listening.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been some reports that President Putin is pausing for a moment and reflecting on what's happened.

SCIUTTO: Still, with thousands of Russian troops deployed in Ukraine, the administration's fundamental position remains the same.

KERRY: It is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of a barrel of a gun, dictate what you are trying to achieve. That is not 21st century, G8, major nation behavior.

SCIUTTO: Now, President Obama refer to a possible pause in Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

So what did he mean by that?

When I asked the White House, officials pointed my attention to this quote from Vladimir Putin. He said, quote, "Regarding the deployment of troops, the use of armed forces so far, there is no need for it. Such a measure would certainly be the very last resort."

Now, Russia has already deployed troops in Crimea, though Putin hasn't admitted it publicly. The pause the president referred to is apparently that the Russians have so far not sent any more or sent those troops further into eastern Ukraine. And that is seen by some officials as a possible sign.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


CHIOU: And let's get the view from Moscow right now. CNN's Phil Black joins us live from the Russian capital. Phil, we've got this diplomatic meeting going on in Paris that's going to happen later on today between John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, also possibly between Russia and Ukraine. What are the expectations from these meetings?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: We've heard UK foreign minister, foreign secretary William Hague say this morning he's not feeling particularly optimistic about what is to come, but it's important to go through the diplomatic motions, to try and deescalate things.

And you've just been hearing, it is probably reasonable to expect that a breakthrough is not imminent given that the positions of both sides are diametrically opposed and especially given that Russia maintains this position that there are no Russian soldiers are on the ground occupying the Crimean peninsula.

Very difficult, you would think, to mount any sort of negotiation over a military occupation when the side accused of carrying out the military occupation simply refuses to acknowledge that that is in fact the case, Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah, they're calling those troops local self-defense forces.

Phil, there's also analysis out there that the west will offer something that they're calling an off ramp for Russia in order to save face, and that Vladimir Putin may have actually overplayed his hand as we see the west rallying around Kiev. Does that view hold any water there in Moscow?

BLACK: The key to this diplomatic off ramp, Pauline, is the idea of sending in international monitors to determine whether or not the Russian government's concerns about the safety of ethnic Russians in the east and the south are in fact valid. that is the key justification Russian makes for holding this position for either mounting military action in the future or perhaps having already mounted the military action -- although it does not acknowledge that.

We heard from President Putin say yesterday that this idea of international monitors is being assessed by relevant experts within the Russian government. Today, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said this isn't a question for Russia, because we're talking about Ukrainian territory. So therefore it is an issue that must be answered to by Ukrainian people, or relevant authorities, either those in Kiev or in Crimea or wherever specifically.

So it is certainly not a vote of confidence in that idea. We're hearing no noise whatsoever that the Russian government is prepared to jump on board this of ramp and choose that as an acceptable alternative to maintaining this options of military intervention -- Pauline.

CHIOU: And Phil, what does public opinion say, what do average Russians say about this whole situation? Are most of them behind Vladimir Putin?

BLACK: Yeah, very strongly. The mainstream public view here is very much behind the Russian president coming from the point of view that they see this region of Ukraine as really a natural extension of the Russian state. A lot of Russian people have never stopped seeing it as such, despite the fact that a sovereign border was drawn between them, despite the fact that Ukraine has been effectively an independent state for more than 20 years now. And they see these people as their compatriots, their fraternal Slavic brothers, very much other Russians that deserve and need to be protected by the Russian state.

And with Russian state media very much maintaining the Russian government line that these ethnic Russians are under some sort of threat because of Ukrainian nationalists, many Russians accept that and so many Russians are very much backing their president in his position and the action that he is prepared to take in Ukraine, Pauline.

CHIOU: All right, thank you for putting that all into context for us. Phil Black there live from Moscow.

Well, there are a lot of different perspectives on what's happening in Kiev and Crimea. Compare and contrast American, Russian and Ukrainian versions of events on our website. You can read what each of them say about who is in charge of Ukraine and how many Russian troops are inside the country. That's at

Well, still ahead right here on News Stream, the third day of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial has just wrapped up in Pretoria, South Africa. We will recap the days' events.

Plus, freedom of the press on trial. Three detained al Jazeera journalists return to court in Egypt facing charges of belonging to a terrorist group.

And Beijing makes air quality a top priority. More from China's NPC, or National People's Congress just ahead.


CHIOU: You're watching News Stream, and you're looking at a visual version of all the stories we have in the show today. We will continue to keep our eye on the top story, which is the ongoing standoff between Russia and Ukraine.

But now, we turn to South Africa. The third day of the Oscar Pistorius trial has just come to a close. He denies intentionally killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year. Witnesses have taken the stand saying they heard screams on the night of the fatal shooting and so has a character witness. But the defense is working to raise doubt about their testimony.

CNN's Nic Robertson has been following all the developments inside the courtroom. He joins us now live from outside the courthouse in Pretoria.

Nic, what has happened today in court?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPNDENT: Well, maybe one of the big headlines today is the fact that three hours of potential trial time almost has been lost here. There was an hour early break for lunch. So there was a two hour lunch break. And then this afternoon the proceedings finished barely 30 minutes after they picked up. There were no more witnesses to call. The early witness this morning, witness number three if you will, there has to be his computer found, notes taken from that computer before he can come back as a witness for cross examination by Oscar Pistorius' defense attorney.

One of the sort of important details to come out has been from witness number four, a professional boxer, a friend of Oscar Pistorius. And he has described how he went to a restaurant with Oscar Pistorius and two friends. One of those friends passed a loaded weapon underneath the table to Oscar Pistorius.

Now, it's illegal to pass a loaded weapon here in South Africa, illegal. And this friend had apparently said there's one in the chamber, meaning there's one bullet in the chamber. Oscar Pistorius apparently didn't hear that. He discharged the weapon.

Perhaps key for the prosecution here is that Oscar Pistorius asked -- or apparently asked or implied that his friend who owned the weapon should say that he fired the shot, because of the potential repercussions for Oscar Pistorius. This is an incident that happened in January last year before Valentine's Day and the killing of Reeva Steenkamp.

So, perhaps this is what the prosecution wanted to get across, that he was willing to get others to take the blame so that he could avoid taking the charge of breaking the law, one of the charges he's charged with here.

So it's been a shorter day than expected, but a day when we've seen a change from witnesses who were neighbors reporting what happened that night, to getting on Oscar Pistorius' character here, Pauline.

CHIOU: All right, so that was the fourth witness -- the boxer and the friend. But let's talk about some of those earlier witnesses that you just mentioned, the neighbors, because the defense has been hammering away on their testimony, casting doubt on what they're saying. How effective do you think the defense has been?

ROBERTSON: I think we can only judge the effectiveness of the defense later in the trial. But we can clearly see what Barry Roux has done here, Oscar Pistorius' defense attorney, he introduced some very detailed evidence today. Witness number three said that he called the security -- called the security company when he heard the disturbance, the screaming. What Barry Roux said was, you called at 3:16 am in the morning. The call lasted 58 seconds, phone records show that. At 3:17 am you went back to the balcony. He said at 3:19:50 -- 50 seconds am, these are these precise times very important he said that's when Oscar Pistorius himself phoned for help after he had broken down the door where Reeva Steenkamp was inside the bathroom, broken it down with a cricket bat.

So what the defense attorney is implying is that this witness who thought he heard gunshots, he's saying that actually the timings of these phone calls mean that you could have only heard him breaking the door down with a cricket bat. So trying to now sort of cast doubt on the testimony of witness number three and also of witness number one who is the wife of witness number three.

So getting into some real details that maybe very telling later on, Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah, precise details, timeline, also distance between the houses and how clearly they may have heard some of the noises and the gunshots and the cricket bat.

All right, very, very interesting details coming out of that trial so far on day three. Nic, thank you very much. Nic Robertson there, live from Pretoria.

Well, more political wrangling over Russia's role in Ukraine today. We will have live updates on the latest there just ahead.


CHIOU: Paris Fashion Week is in full swing. And the world's biggest labels are showcasing their new looks. But it isn't just the major names looking to make money, independent entrepreneurs are turning personal style into profit by using the internet. CNN's special correspondent Myleene Klass explains.


MYLEENE KLASS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fashion Week is a community coming together, showing off their latest wares.

(on camera): While all eyes are on the catwalk, it's easy to forget that business is happening everywhere. Every face in the crowd is trying to turn glamour into profit.

(voice-over): Meet Charlotte Collard, a former model turned web entrepreneur.

CHARLOTTE COLLARD, WEB ENTREPRENEUR: The idea behind my website is a human feel through virtual sale. So, you have a form on my website, and you upload your pictures and I give you styling advice via e-mail.

KLASS (on camera): Well, that seems very nice of you, but how do you then make your money?

COLLARD: A creation platform gives you a certain percentage, so this is how I make money, through commissions. And commissions are not little. They're quite interesting. This is actually why I found the business of the affiliation sale very interesting, because you have no risk.

KLASS: It seems so easy. Why can't everybody do this?

COLLARD: I don't know. I don't know, when I launched it, everybody was looking at me like, what are you doing? Can you just do something that everybody's doing? No, no, no. I think it's really interesting.

It's 10:00, and it's going to be a busy day in Paris.

KLASS (voice-over): Paris Fashion Week is a big opportunity to see and be seen. For Charlotte, preparations began a week earlier at home in Brussels.

(on camera): Each of Charlotte's outfits for Paris Fashion Week has been carefully chosen in advance. The idea is, you see it, you like it, you log on, and it's already available for you to buy through her website.

COLLARD: For this one, I chose to play with volumes. And what I want, actually, is the idea to have a belted hip instead of having a belted waist and to play with the volume of the skirt.

KLASS (voice-over): Fast forward a week or so, and Charlotte is showcasing her own styles and drumming up business.

COLLARD: So basically, during Fashion Week, we don't only look at fashion shows. Besides meeting people, networking, and everything, we have started this concept of the walking boutiques, and basically, I become shoppable from head to toe. You always have to think about the way you blog. Through social networks, networking, sending your face, who you are, what you do.

We're at the M Word, demi on demand, the show's about to start, and I'm really excited because there's one of my current designers.

Hi, we're at the City Hall of Paris (inaudible), and we're heading to Alex McQueen. We have half hour left, I have to rush. Bye.

KLASS: It's big business, from the established designers to the budding entrepreneurs. Everyone here is working hard to get their slice of the $1.5 trillion global fashion industry.


CHIOU: Still to come right here on News Stream, we continue our coverage of rapidly changing developments in Ukraine. Our correspondents are fanned out across the country and we will take you live to Kiev next for the latest.

And we have the latest from Crimea, the flashpoint of tensions in the region.


CHIOU: I'm Pauline Chiou in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Diplomatic efforts take center stage in Europe today as leaders look for a solution to the crisis in Ukraine. The EU is threatening sanctions against Russia if it does not pull back its troops. Russia was set to meet with western powers this morning, but its diplomats did not show up. British foreign secretary William Hague urged Russia to attend the talks later on today.

The murder trial for South African paralympic star Oscar Pistorius has just concluded its third day. The jury has heard from five witnesses so far. Pistorius denies intentionally killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day of last year.

In Cairo, the trial of 20 journalists is set to resume today. They're charged with spreading false information about Egypt and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Last week a global day of action was held to protest the detention of the journalists, several of whom worked for the Qatar based news channel al Jazeera.

Israel's military says it has intercepted a ship bound for Gaza carrying Iranian advanced weaponry. It says the boarding took place in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan with full consent of the crew.

Let's return to our top story right now, which is the situation in Ukraine. Diplomats are meeting today to try to resolve the crisis and ease the tension between Russia and the west. CNN's Atika Shubert is live outside the British prime minister's residence and joins me now with more details.

Atika, what's the message coming out of 10 Downing Street?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the message the same message we've been hearing across Europe, which is that Russia must deescalate tensions in Crimea. But where we are seeing splits in Europe is how to leverage Russia into doing that. Do they put in sanctions? What kind of sanctions should they put in? So this is what diplomats are now meeting over trying to figure out.

All the action is taking place in Paris, but we have just heard from British Prime Minister David Cameron during the prime minister's questions in Parliament. And he had some strong words saying that what Russia has done is unacceptable and Nothing should be taken off the table. Take a listen.


CAMERON: What Russia has done is completely unacceptable. We should be clear about our national interests and our aim in all of this. Our national interest is that we have a strong interest in a world where the rule of law is upheld, where territorial integrity is respected, stability is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. And we should be clear that our aim is to deter further Russian military action and to deescalate this situation.

I think it's completely right to say that the action by the Russian government should be condemned by the whole world.


SHUBERT: Now in terms of coordinating a global response we understand that the British prime minister will be speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama later this afternoon. In the meantime, British Foreign Minister William Hague is in Paris hoping to help coordinate that diplomatic response. And they are hoping to meet with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as it happened. Ukrainian foreign minister is also in Paris, but are they all going to sit down and talk? This is something they're clearly hoping, but it's not sure yet. Take a listen to what William Hague had to say about the meetings coming up.


WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We will at all times keep our channels of communication to Russia open. And today is one of the means by which we are doing that. It will be a test this afternoon of whether Russia is prepared to sit down with Ukraine. And we will strongly recommend that they do so.


SHUBERT: Now earlier in the day, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov met with Spain's foreign minister, made a few comments about the situation in Crimea and said he would be meeting with his British, French, German counterparts and Secretary of State John Kerry, but he made no mention of Ukraine's foreign minister. So we'll have to see whether or not he actually sits down for talks with him -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah, that's what everyone is wondering is whether or not Ukraine and Russia will actually sit in the same room later on today.

OK, Atika, thank you very much for the perspective from the western powers. Let's get more now on what's happening in Kiev on the ground. Our Michael Holmes is there and joins us live.

Michael, what do people there at Independence Square actually think about all of these talks that are going on today?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think it's probably fair to say they're hopeful but apprehensive -- skeptical is probably a good word. They're all waiting to see what comes out of this, like everyone else. And of course it matters very much to them where this all leads.

Here in Independence Square, it's been a fascinating day, really. The crowds, of course, nowhere near the size they were during the main time of the protest. But the protesters are still very much present. 24 hours a day they've got fires going, they've got soup kitchens going and a very sort of solemn feel here.

What we've been seeing, which has been interesting, is people coming from all over Ukraine -- Ukrainians coming here with their cameras and walking up and down, walking through the square, walking past the barricades that are still here now and taking their own photographs and coming and paying their respects to those who died during these protests.

When it comes to what is happening in Crimea, they are watching the way that everyone else is watching and hoping that nothing gets out of hand, that this is resolved peacefully, diplomatically. They're concerned that they might at the end of the day lose Crimea to Russia either not literally, but even if Russia were to get more influence under a more autonomous, if you like, Crimea that is run by a local administration that is Russia friendly.

So, very much a wait and see attitude right throughout this city today. It's a gloomy, cold, dark, dank day and it sort of matches the mood I think -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah. And in this dark and damp day and with that backdrop there, the interim government still has to keep on working. They have gotten help from the west. The U.S. brought a $1 billion loan guarantee package. The EU has just announced that it is going to be offering $15 billion in terms of a package.

What is next for the government there? What's their next step?

HOLMES: Yeah, that $1 billion was really a drop in the bucket. But there is obviously more in loan guarantees coming Ukraine's way.

There's a real caulking going on, if you like, I suppose, isn't there? You know, the Russians today were actually saying -- warning the west, you know, be careful of the Ukraine government because they're just using you to get more and more. I mean, this war of words between all the sides involved doesn't go away.

You know, it's interesting here with these barricades. Nobody is going anywhere. And I think that lends itself to this mistrust that we were talking about. The protesters are saying, you know, there's elections planned in May. They're going to be here right throughout that process, because they don't trust that things will go -- will not turn around, if you like. So they're going to stay put.

The interim government for its part was meeting today. They discussed things like how to help the Ukrainian troops in Crimea and in the east of the country. Some of them, of course, surrounded by those mysterious, let's call them Russian soldiers. And how to assist them. But one of the things that came up was they have no money with which to help them in a tangible sort of way.

Those sorts of discussions going on, you've got all the meetings going on in Europe. You've got European -- a couple of European foreign ministers coming here to Kiev tomorrow to have talks with the interim administration as well.

So a look of talking, but not much result yet -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah. And meanwhile the Ukrainian foreign minister in Paris says he would like to meet with Russia. Whether or not Russia will actually meet with Ukraine is a whole other story. So we're keeping our eye on that.

Michael thank you very much. Michael Holmes there live on the ground in Kiev.

As diplomats worked to diffuse the crisis, they are very mindful of the standoff on the ground. Diana Magnay reports from Crimea, which is the epicenter of this crisis.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is where two worlds collide. On the one side, an unmarked army -- the Russian president says they're not his men. Telltale signs suggest otherwise. On the other, Ukrainian troops trapped in their bases.

In between the two, army wives anxious to avoid war, who feel Crimea's new pro-Russian leader Sergey Aksyonov has put their husbands in an impossible situation.

"If they do not take the oath to the new Crimean authority, then they will be fighting. And if there is a drop of blood spilled on either side, then our husbands will be held responsible."

Relations between the two sides seem cordial. It's us they dislike.

Are we able to talk to the Ukrainian soldiers? Because you are clearly from Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They all refuse to talk to you.

MAGNAY: OK. So you're all taking orders from Aksyonov?


MAGNAY: This man has come to bring food to the Ukrainian soldiers. He says he wants Russian forces out of Crimea.

"I'm Russian," he says. "And I want to say I don't need any protection from any brother nation or anyone else on my land. We will solve our problems through talks, not fights."

Dropping food deliveries of the gates, this self organized band of brothers staunchly pro-Russian, they hope this month's referendum gives them a clean break from Kiev.

"It will mean either we have full autonomy or we disconnect from Ukraine and join fully with Russia," this man says. "That can only be positive."

Only the young have no agenda, no idea their playgrounds have become an international flashpoint.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Perevonaya (ph), Ukraine.


CHIOU: As Diana just showed us, Russia's Black Sea fleet is very much at the center of this crisis. So let's take a closer look at it now.

The Russian navy has four main fleets: the Pacific fleet based in Vladivostok and Kamchatka. There's also the northern fleet based in the Arctic Circle, the Baltic fleet based between Poland and Lithuania and the Black Sea fleet. Its value lies in its location right here. It's the only one of the four that has easy access to the Mediterranean Sea. And despite that, the Black Sea fleet is the smallest. As you've heard, Russia maintains a base in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, but that's not the fleet's only home. It has a second base to the east of Crimea inside Russia itself.

And you're watching News Stream. Still to come, on trial, accused of reporting false information, several journalists are back in court in Cairo. We'll be live from Cairo after this break.


CHIOU: Let's go back to our visual rundown now. A little later in the show, we'll show you what's on the agenda for China's leaders this year as the National People's Congress meets.

But first to Egypt and a trial that's being seen as a test of press freedom. 20 journalists are on trial in Cairo. They are charged with spreading false information about Egypt and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. The accused include several journalists from the al Jazeera news channel.

Well, the trial, which adjourned following its opening session last month is resuming today. Let's go live to Cairo right now and CNN's Reza Sayah joins us from outside the courthouse.

Reza, what is supposed to happen in court today?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Today he two sides, Pauline, are supposed to present their case, start presenting evidence. After a very long wait, roughly four hours, the hearing started about an hour. That's where it's taking place, Tora Prison behind us. And I believe we have some new video from inside the courtroom, also video showing some of the defendants entering the courtroom.

At this point, we have a CNN producer inside the hearing and she's updating us. We're keeping in touch via email. According to her, the defendants are being kept in a caged dock. They were handcuffed, according to our producer. Mohammed Fahmy, the al Jazeera producer, former producer here at CNN at one point telling the judge that he has a dislocated shoulder and asking the judge if someone can remove the handcuffs from the defendants. At that point, according to our producer, security officials did remove the handcuffs from the defendants.

Peter Greste, the Australian national, Mohammed Fahmy the Canadian- Egyptian and the al Jazeera cameraman Baher Mohamed, these three defendants have been in custody for 67 days, much of that time without having been charged, of course a clear violation of the most basic human rights and due process rights.

Eventually, they were charged. with aiding a terrorist organization, presumably the Muslim Brotherhood, broadcasting false information and working without a permit.

Again, the two sides expected to present their evidence today. And many people eager to see what evidence the state has.

There are many accounts that these individuals were working without a permit, because of the authority's crackdown against al Jazeera over the past several months. But when it comes to the more serious charge of aiding a terrorist organization, many rights groups say that that accusation is ridiculous and these journalists were doing nothing but doing their job trying to report the facts under very difficult circumstances. Our producer inside telling us within the past 20 minutes the state started producing evidence -- memory cards, camera, laptops. Much of the world watching this trial, Pauline, especially human rights groups who say this trial is a troubling sign that authorities here are cracking down on dissent, stifling press freedoms.

Also watching, many journalists in the region around the world, many of whom currently work with these journalists or have worked with them before. Many simply appalled at their treatment and their 67 day detention. And they look forward to their release -- Pauline.

CHIOU: Yeah, there's been an international outcry. And even the White House has stepped up and called for the journalists release as well.

Reza, thank you very much for a preview of what's happening in court. Reza Sayah there live in Cairo.

And still to come on New Stream, bright colors, elaborate costumes and cheerful crowds, it could only be Carnival. We'll take you inside Brazil's biggest party of the year next.


SAYAH: China has declared a war on pollution on the first day of the National People's Congress in Beijing. Officials also announced a new economic growth target and boosted the budget for defense.

David McKenzie reports.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: The National People's Congress has started at the great hall of the people. It's a gathering of nearly 3,000 delegates from across China. But it's largely a rubber stamp for decisions already made by the top Communist Party leadership. So it's really as much about the pageantry as it is about the policy.

And a chance for China's leaders to roll out their plans for the world's second largest economy and emerging power.

Premier Liqiang's work report promised double digit defense spending growth and sweeping reforms for an economy once built on breakneck pace.

The party wants the market to take a bigger role and hopes to encourage consumer spending.

But state owned giants will still dominate many industries. And there's little talk of the political reform that many China watchers yearn for.

PROF. WENGFANG TANG, UNIVERSITY OF IOWA: Keeping this kind of focus on economic development, there's consensus I think among the party officials that there should be continued political stability.

MCKENZIE: And a focus on combating public anger.

It's a beautiful blue sky day here in Beijing, but that's unusual for this winter. China is still suffering through terrible levels of smog. And that's a big challenge for the party.

At times, it's been dubbed the airpocalypse. Li has called for a war on pollution to bring the water, air and ground pollution to acceptable levels.

Some say the party is serious about its reform plans.

FRANK CHING, POLITICAL COMMENTATORS AND COLUMNIST; The party's leadership knows what the problems are. And they know what the solutions are. But still it's going to take I think quite a few years for them to act according to the plans that they've laid out.

MCKENZIE: But analysts believe that the economic reforms will be slow and deliberate and chiefly aimed at keeping the Communist Party in power.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


CHIOU: And the Chinese government is trying to help in curbing the pollution there. They're doing things like giving subsidies for electric vehicles, also giving preference to like the solar panel industry.

Mari Ramos is live at the world weather center with more on the situation in China.

But Mari, I think one of the big issues is actually coal burning in China, because burning coal is cheaper than other forms of energy. And you've got to heat these huge cities with millions of people.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Millions and millions of people, an estimated 500 million people live in that one area alone there of northeastern China, Pauline. That is one of the major polluted areas and one of the major pollutants, like you said, is coal.

We're going to go over some of those other sources of pollution in just a moment. But I want to star you off with this new smog policy that everyone has been talking about. This is some of -- these are some of the new things that are in place as of this year.

It all started back in October of last year when they started to put all of this together -- or finally but all of this together. And it -- when it comes to the smog, this contingency plan, it has several steps. And the first thing is to be able to warn people that it's going to get bad. They have the blue, the yellow, the orange and the red alert. The red would be the worst. We haven't seen a red alert yet, but we did get to the orange, remember, just a couple of weeks ago.

And so whenever they think that the smog due to weather conditions in particular, because that does make it worse, is going to be bad for at least three days in a row, that's when these heavy air pollution contingency plans will come into play.

Now the red warning, if we get to that. It would mean that schools would be closed and 80 percent of government owned cars would be taken off the road. And that's huge. Remember that you have a big economic impact whenever you do something like this. People have to be able to get to work or be able to still do their job somehow. And, you know, even with public transportation 80 percent of government cars, you're talking about a huge chunk of the population there.

No use of freight vehicles and those transporting material for construction. The thought is that heavy equipment, for example, would be - - would cause more pollution. Construction is one of the sources of pollution also in this area.

With the red warnings, schools would be closed, of course, so all of the things I told you plus all of these.

With an orange warning, schools would be closed -- or advised, anyway, to cancel outdoor activities. Factories must limit emissions or even close down. We saw several factories, several dozen companies closing down with the orange warning last time just to try to curb some of that pollution that's there and construction sites would also halt their excavation and their demolition policies.

When you talk about those sources of pollution -- vehicle emissions is huge: cars, trucks, buses all of those. That's why we heard about the construction vehicles there as well. But you have the factory emissions and the heating, the heating from coal is one of the huge things. But not just from factories, but from homes. That's one of the biggest ones. So that's going to be a pretty difficult one to be able to curb during these very harsh winter months that we have across northeastern China. And of course construction, exhaust from shipping and boats. This is something people don't normally think about.

Of course in Beijing you don't have a huge shipping industry, but in some of those coastal areas there are huge shipping lanes and the exhaust from shipping and from boats actually does come back out into the air.

And of course you have forest fires or wildfires -- it hasn't been a huge problem this year, but in other years we have had big problems with that across China.

As far as the air, we saw there in David's report that the air had been blue, and it had. We had pretty good couple of days there going, but now we're back to the unhealthy level, in Beijing anyway. Unhealthy for sensitive groups. Right around 130 mark for particles in the air.

So, we'll see what happens. But the weather definitely can help or hurt. But if those sources of pollutions are still there, there's only so much mother nature can do.

Back to you.

CHIOU: Yeah, it's such a big challenge. And you mentioned those port cities. You're right, there is a lot of pollution there.

You would think the sea breeze would blow it away, but it doesn't.

All right, Mari, thank you very much. Mari Ramos there live at the World Weather Center.

Now, one of the world's biggest parties has just come to a close in Rio de Janeiro of Brazil. The annual festival known as Carnival lasted for five days. And CNN's Shasta Darlington was right in the thick of it.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lady bugs and feathered ladies, twirling Virgin Marys and gold painted Indians, it can only be Rio de Janeiro's annual Carnival celebration.

The city's top 12 samba schools face off in elaborate parades at the specially built Sambadrome, a unique experience, had to give it a try myself.

That was absolutely amazing and exhausting. We were dancing for a straight hours singing for a straight hour. I've lost my voice, but really amazing.

A labor of love for the samba schools that represent Rio's poorest neighborhoods. They prepare all year spending millions on each presentation.

"Carnival is bringing people together regardless of where they come from or who they are."

But Carnival in Rio is also a five day non-stop street party, more than 400 blokos (ph) or block parties fill the streets with live music free of charge.

Every blocko (ph) has its own traditions, its own flavor. This one is (inaudible), or Sergeant Peppers. So you can imagine, it's all about the Beatles.

The biggest blockos (ph) attract more than a million revelers as Carnival winds down before Rio's next big event, the World Cup. Revelers brace for a hangover. Mountains of trash left behind thanks to a sanitation worker strike.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.


CHIOU: Before we go, a reminder of where we stand in our top story. Diplomats are in Paris right now looking for a solution to the showdown in Ukraine's Crimea region. Russia is not at the table yet, but Russian and Ukrainian officials could meet later on today. So we'll be on top of that story.

And that is News Stream. Next, we'll join our partner network CNN USA for special coverage of the Ukraine situation.